Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Western leaders should attend victory day parade in Kyiv, not Moscow

It has recently been reported in the press that Downing Street is yet to comment whether or not the British prime minister is planning to attend this year's 70th anniversary celebrations of allied victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow in May.

Many of my Ukrainian forebears fought in the Soviet Army. Ukraine's contribution to the defeat of Hitler's Germany was enormous, as was the suffering inflicted on Ukraine's population during World War 2. As eminent historian Timothy Snyder recently noted:

"World War II on the eastern front was fought chiefly in what was then Soviet Ukraine and Soviet Belarus, not in Soviet Russia. Five percent of Russia was occupied by the Germans; all of Ukraine was occupied by the Germans. Apart from the Jews, whose suffering was by far the worst, the main victims of Nazi policies were not Russians but Ukrainians and Belarusians. There was no Russian army fighting in World War II, but rather a Soviet Red Army. Its soldiers were disproportionately Ukrainian, since it took so many losses in Ukraine and recruited from the local population."

In view of the on-going Russian-Ukrainian war and the international outrage President Putin's aggression has caused, the British prime minister should only attend such an event in Moscow on the condition that Ukraine's President is also invited, and Ukraine's enormous contribution to the defeat of Hitler's Third Reich properly recognised.

The prime minister should discuss and co-ordinate his action in this matter with Chancellor Angela Merkel when they meet in a few days time. Perhaps in light of the comments above they should both attend analogous celebrations in Kyiv instead of in Moscow?

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