Russian, US diplomats honor WWII victory together
US and Russian tensions were briefly forgotten as diplomats from both countries honored World War II veterans. They took part in a joint wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, marking the anniversary of the “Meeting at the Elbe.”
The Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland accompanied hundreds of Americans and Russians who laid flowers at the “Spirit of the Elbe” memorial. It was opened in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting of Soviet and US troops in Germany.
“Today is a very special day. On this day we remember all those who gave their lives for victory, thanks to which we are free from Nazism,” said Ambassador Kislyak. “I am very glad our American friends are with us here today, despite of any issues that might exist between our two countries. We are united in remembering the great victory.”
“This is an important day to remember the sacrifices and remember our joint efforts in defense of a more peaceful world,” Nuland told reporters.
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After the ceremony, the Russian Embassy presented a number of former Soviet citizens now residing in the US with medals commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory in the Second World War.
There are approximately 5,000 former Soviet citizens currently living in the US, who took part in the war, or experienced it in some form. Nikolay Zaytsev, 91, who was originally from the Altai Region, but now lives in New York, uses the Victory Day celebrations to try and raise awareness amongst the younger generations about the war.
“People in America do not know the truth about the war; they do not know us.” Zaytsev told RIA Novosti. “I am ashamed to hear it when pupils in US schools say ‘America won the Second World War.’ I shook hands with a US lieutenant in Czechoslovakia, when our reconnaissance team came across their tanks. So how is it that he won the war and I didn’t?”
Soviet and American troops operating in Germany met up on the River Elbe near the town of Torgau in Saxony, on April 25, 1945. By May 2, Soviet troops had accepted the surrender of Berlin. Germany had fully capitulated by May 9, ending World War II in Europe.