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Putin to visit Israel for unveiling of monument to Leningrad Siege victims

Putin to visit Israel for unveiling of monument to Leningrad Siege victims
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come to his country and take part in the unveiling of a new monument dedicated to those who perished in Leningrad.

The monument is currently under construction in Jerusalem and will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the siege, which is marked this year. Russia held several events dedicated to it earlier in January, on the date the city was fully freed in 1944.

The Siege of Leningrad during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was one of the most tragic and heroic episodes of World War II. The nearly 900-day blockade took a heavy toll on the city’s population and defenders.

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They had to endure a shortage of fuel in the winter and constant bombing and shelling by the Nazi troops and their allies, but starvation was the deadliest threat. While estimates vary, between 700,000 and 1,200,000 civilians are believed to have died during the siege, in addition to as many as one million troops defending the city and trying to rescue people.

During the winter of 1943, Soviet troops managed to establish a lifeline over the frozen Lake Ladoga, providing supplies and evacuating some of the civilians trapped in Leningrad.

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The decision to defend the city and only partially evacuate civilians as opposed to allowing the Nazis to raze it to the ground as planned remains a matter of controversy in Russia. Some people argue that the city was not worth the cost.

Others say that without Leningrad to distract Nazi troops in the north, they may have succeeded in other places like Stalingrad and Moscow, potentially defeating the Soviet Union in the end. This would have resulted in even greater suffering of the people who the Nazi leadership considered racially inferior and wanted to exterminate.

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