Following is Russian President Vladimir Putin's address at Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, Monday, May 9, 2005, as translated by and posted on the Kremlin Web site:
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Dear citizens of Russia!
Comrade soldiers and sailors, sergeants, sergeant-majors and warrant officers!
Comrade officers, generals and admirals!
I congratulate you on this, the sixtieth anniversary of our great victory! I congratulate you on this celebration of peace and triumph of justice, this day that marks the victory of good over evil and of freedom over tyranny.
Sixty years have now passed. But every year on May 9 the memory of the war appeals to our reason, committing us to great responsibility and making us realize with more acuteness just how close the world came at that time to plunging into an irreversible abyss. On this day we see more clearly just what monstrous consequences violence, racial intolerance, genocide and outrage committed against people could have had.
We will never forget that these enormities bring people nothing but fear, humiliation and death.
We will always honor all those who fought on the front lines and those who selflessly toiled in the rear.
We will mourn the dead and pay them the debt of gratitude of those who they saved.
The Second World War caught up 61 countries and almost 80 percent of the Earth's population in its inferno. This hurricane of fire blazed a trail of destruction not only across Europe but also across Asia and Africa. It reached all the way to Novaya Zemlya (search) and Alaska, to the frontiers of Egypt and Australia.
But the most ruthless and decisive events — the events that determined the drama and the outcome of this inhuman war — unfolded on the territory of the Soviet Union. The Nazis counted on rapid enslavement of our people. Their intention was to destroy our country.
Their plans failed. First, the Soviet army halted the Nazi advance outside Moscow. Then, over the next three years, not only did they hold the enemy in check but were able to drive it back, back into its own lair.
The battles of Moscow and Stalingrad (search), the courage of besieged Leningrad and the successes at Kursk and on the Dnieper decided the outcome of World War II. Through the liberation of Europe and the battle for Berlin the Red Army brought the war to its victorious conclusion.
We never divided victory into ours and theirs. We will always remember our allies — the United States, Great Britain, France and the other countries who fought in the anti-Nazi coalition, the German and Italian anti-fascists. Today we pay tribute to the courage of all Europeans who resisted Nazism.
But we also know that the Soviet Union lost tens of millions of its citizens during those years of war. And people of every nationality in the former Soviet Union were among the soldiers who gave their lives on the battlefields.
All the peoples and all the republics of the Soviet Union suffered irreplaceable losses. Grief entered every home, every family. May 9 is therefore a sacred date for all the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
We all share a common grief, common memory and common duty to future generations. It is our obligation to hand down to our descendants this spirit of historical kinship, common objectives and hopes.
I am sure that there can be no alternative to our brotherhood and friendship.
Russia seeks to build relations that are not only forged by the lessons of the past but that are also reaching out towards our common future, both with our closest neighbors and with all countries of the world.
History teaches us that states and peoples must do everything they can not to let their eyes close to the emergence of new lethal doctrines, to anything that can become fertile soil for new threats.
The lessons of the war send us the warning that indifference, temporizing and playing accomplice to violence inevitably lead to terrible tragedies on a planetary scale. Faced with the real threat of terrorism today, we must, therefore, remain faithful to the memory of our fathers. It is our duty to defend a world order based on security and justice and on a new culture of relations among nations that will not allow a repeat of any war, neither "cold" nor "hot".
Since the era of global confrontation came to an end, we have made considerable progress towards the noble aim of ensuring peace and tranquillity in Europe.
Our policy is based on the ideals of freedom and democracy and the right of every nation to choose its own path of development. Our policy is founded on trust and the search for future progress and development prospects for all peoples, including those who have traversed the difficult experience of the last confrontation and have been able to find a new road to international dialogue and cooperation.
The historic reconciliation between Russia and Germany is a shining example of this policy.
I see it as one of post-war Europe's most valuable achievements and an example worthy of emulation in modern world politics.
Dear citizens of Russia!
May 9 was and always will be a sacred day for our country, a celebration that not only inspires and elevates us but also fills our hearts with a most complex mix of feelings — joy and sorrow, sympathy and nobility.
It is a celebration that inspires us to the most lofty moral acts and gives us the opportunity once again to bow down before those who gave us freedom, the freedom to live, work, feel joy, create, and understand each other.
Victory Day is our closest, sincerest and most truly national holiday.
For the peoples of the former Soviet Union it will always be the day celebrating the great feats they achieved together.
And for the countries of Europe and the entire planet it marks the day when the world was saved.
Our fathers and grandfathers were willing to lay down their lives for the honor and freedom of their country. They were united and they defended their Fatherland.
I bow low today before all veterans of the Great Patriotic War (search) and I wish them a long and happy life.
Glory to the victorious soldiers of the Great Patriotic War and the Second World War!
To the Victory Day!
Glory to Russia!