Opinion- What Russians really think – FT.com – John Gelmini

English: Victory Day (Russia)

English: Victory Day (Russia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

RED SQUARE, MOSCOW. At the military parade cel...

RED SQUARE, MOSCOW. At the military parade celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of victory in World War II. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Dr Alf, I take a keen interest in the history of World War II, and in addition, military history at an official and unofficial level.

Often things we were told about events are only complete when we know and have access to additional facts.

Russia in World War II, lost about 25 million men, a figure which included 10 million or so murdered by Stalin’s secret police.

Even at this level of casualties, they lost far more men than the UK, France and America combined.
Their tradition first developed under Peter the Great, was to build an empire and then remain independent.

They even helped the Union under Abraham Lincoln, during the American Civil War, by dint of the Czar sending the Russian fleet to their aid at a time when the UK wanted to help the Confederacy but then thought better of it because of a lack of appetite for fighting Russia.

In World War II, the American General, Patton wanted to continue the war by attacking Russia and died in mysterious circumstances, some speculate that Patton was assassinated at Stalin’s orders.

What the Russian people think and what we think of them is probably different to what their leadership thinks of our political elite and vice versa.

One hopes that we can all live together on the same planet with a bit more harmony than we are in at present but until then we should remember the sacrifices they made when wider-Russia destroyed the flower of Hitler’s best army on the Eastern front.

John Gelmini

Opinion- What Russians really think – FT.com

MOSCOW. During the Victory Day celebrations.

MOSCOW. During the Victory Day celebrations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his...

Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his famous ‘V’ sign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

RED SQUARE, MOSCOW. Military parade celebratin...

RED SQUARE, MOSCOW. Military parade celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of victory in World War II. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MOSCOW. Victory Day fireworks display.

MOSCOW. Victory Day fireworks display. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This outstanding article is currently top of the FT’s most-read list. The author is Kathrin Hille, the FT’s Moscow bureau chief. It’s a long article but in my view, very much, a must-read. Check it out!

via What Russians really think – FT.com.

Ahead of Moscow’s Victory Day celebration, May 9, the article takes a subjective viewpoint, interviewing a large number of people, discussing their feelings and perceptions, dipping into the histories of their families.

This article is very much in contrast with the stereo-typed, oversimplified themes on modern Russia that are typically to be found in the mainstream Western media.

The Victory Day celebrations are really important to the Russian people. It is highly significant that China’s president Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are attending official celebrations in Moscow – however, many Western leaders are not accepting invitations, presumably because of the situation in Ukraine.

I have two personal observations on Victory Day.

Firstly, I remember celebrating Victory Day with a Russian family and after much alcohol my host explained how Russians have very warm feelings towards the UK. He explained that Russians will always remember how Prime Minister, Winston Churchill kept open the sea lanes to Russia in the darkest days of WWII – vital supplies of food and munitions were able to help Russia survive.

Secondly, I have recently taken a keen history in WWII history. There is no doubt in my mind that the Russian victories on the Eastern front were critical to bringing WWII to an end. The Russian Army’s causalities were far higher than those the UK or the US.

In my mind, the World does owe Russia a thank-you and should respect Victory Day. There is also room to respect the past, and still disagree over the present, including Ukraine.

Thoughts?