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May 22, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8764

Russia's Foreign Intel Chief Naryshkin: Common Historical Memory In WWII Serves As Foundation For Current Strategic Partnership Between Moscow And Beijing

May 22, 2020
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8764

On May 7, 2020, who doubles as Chairman of the Russian Historical Society and Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, addressed an audience of Russian and Chinese historians in a teleconference, devoted to the 75th anniversary of the victory in WWII.

During his speech, Naryshkin expressed satisfaction that Russia-China relations are strong and stable. “The memory of the Great Victory unites and binds together Russia society it its entirety… It is heartening that the people of China share this great holiday with us. A common historical memory serves as a solid foundation for our countries' strategic partnership… History teaches us how important it is to maintain unity in the face of such global threats,” Naryshkin said.

Naryshkin also used the occasion to defend China against American charges that Beijing bore responsibility for the pandemic:  " Aware of their responsibility, Russia and China have consistently adhered to the principles of international solidarity and reject any attempt to use the pandemic to settle political accounts and all the more so retroactively."

It is worth noting that Naryshkin used his speech to push a slightly sanitized version of Sino-Soviet cooperation during the Second World War (Russia's non-aggression pact with Japan and belated entry into the Pacific theater are glossed over). This solidary between the two principle victims of WWII, serve as the foundation for the current strategic partnership.

Naryshkin emphasized the official Russian position in the polemic with the West – it was the Munich Agreement that surrendered Czechoslovakia to Hitler and not the Molotov-Von Ribbentrop Pact that triggered WWII.

The text of Naryshkin's speech follows below:[1]


Sergey Naryshkin (Source: Kommersant.ru)

'History Teaches Us How Important It Is To Maintain Unity'

"Good afternoon, dear colleagues!

"I am sincerely pleased to welcome all participants in the Russian-Chinese teleconference dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory. I would especially like to welcome our friends and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Today, the Russian Historical Society unites more than a hundred leading organizations in education, science and culture. Our priority is broad historical awareness, support for humanitarian education and the development of international contacts between historians - including between Russia and China.

"During today's meeting, I would like to discuss with you our country's approaches to the history of the Second World War or, as they say in China, the World Anti-Fascist War.

"Dear Colleagues!

"75 years ago, on May 9, 1945, the Great Patriotic War ended victoriously.

"The defeat of Nazi Germany, to which the Soviet Union made the decisive contribution, brought the final outcome to the Asia-Pacific theater of operations closer. The triumph of the anti-Hitler coalition sent the idea of Nazism, militarism and racial intolerance to the trash heap of history. The criminal plans of world domination went to oblivion.

"The memory of the Great Victory unites and binds together Russia society it its entirety. For us, May 9 is truly a national, sacred holiday. Each year, we pay tribute to the victorious warriors who managed to defend our country's freedom and independence, liberate the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and crush and destroy fascism at the cost of incredible sacrifices.

"It is heartening that the people of China share this great holiday with us. A common historical memory serves as a solid foundation for our countries' strategic partnership, motivates us to adhere to intimate moral principles, and strongly cherish sovereignty and national dignity.

"Unfortunately, this year's Victory Day festivities are being held against the backdrop of restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

"History teaches us how important it is to maintain unity in the face of such global threats. Aware of their responsibility, Russia and China have consistently adhered to the principles of international solidarity and reject any attempt to use the pandemic to settle political accounts and all the more so retroactively.

"These days, when millions of people around the world are in trouble, sowing discord among nations is immoral. I am convinced that only trust and mutual assistance will facilitate overcoming the consequences of coronavirus infection and maintaining stability in this challenging time. I hope as well that the victory over the pandemic that we will undoubtedly win, just as the victory over fascism in its time, will allow humanity to draw the necessary lessons and avoid similar crises in the future.

'Any Attempts To Downplay Russia And China's Contribution To The Victory Of The Anti-Hitler Coalition Are Not Merely False, But Criminal'

"Dear Colleagues!

"In 1937, China was the first to assume the blow of militaristic Japan, which was one of the so-called Axis countries. I know that every year on December 13 in China is a national day of remembrance for the victims of the Nanjing massacre. This tragedy, undoubtedly, ranks equally with the greatest crimes against humanity.

"By 1939, the number of victims of the struggle with the Japanese militarists was calculated in the millions. I believe that the position of Chinese historians, who propose considering these bloody battles as a full-fledged part of World War II is warranted. It is fair to pose the question: if we all agree that the Second World War ended in the East, then why do we still disagree that it started there?

"Historians know that the true nature of fascist regimes was far from immediately recognized by the international community. With the tacit agreement of the then Western leaders - Britain and France - Hitler invaded Austria with impunity and invaded Czechoslovakia, and the Japanese militarists unleashed a war in China and Mongolia. A separate and very cynical role in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia was played by Poland.

"Since the end of 1937, Soviet military experts began to arrive in China. The supplies of military equipment, ammunition, and weapons were rapidly increasing.

"In 1939, in the vicinity of Urumqi, an entire aircraft factory was built from scratch, supplying the Chinese army with the legendary I-16 fighters.

"Soviet ace pilots also fought aboard them, hand in hand with the Chinese comrades. More than 200 of them gave their lives in unequal battles with the Japanese militarists.

"One can agree that in 1941 the actions of the Chinese patriots tied down significant Japanese forces, preventing them, in particular, from complying with Hitler’s demands to invade the Soviet Union.

"At the final stage of World War II, seeking Japan's unconditional surrender, the Red Army also helped the Chinese Communist Party's armed forces clear north-eastern China of the invaders. During the defeat of the Kwantung Army, more than 12 thousand Soviet soldiers were killed. We are grateful to the Chinese people, who carefully preserve the memory of these heroes.

"The Soviet Union and China paid the highest price for victory in World War II. The memory of the colossal sacrifices encourages us to value peace and serve as watchdogs of historical truth.

"I am convinced that any attempts to downplay Russia and China's contribution to the victory of the Anti-Hitler coalition are not merely false, but criminal. Equally we categorically do not accept Nazism, irrespective of the garb that they try to dress it up in.

'The Architecture Of International Security Should Certainly Be Improved, But There Is Still No Alternative To The United Nations Venue'

"Dear Colleagues!

"Following the results of World War II, all five victorious powers, including Russia and China, formed the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, which bears special responsibility for maintaining international peace. For 75 years, this system has allowed avoiding large-scale military conflicts, while considering the interests of most sovereign states.

"The architecture of international security should certainly be improved, but there is still no alternative to the United Nations venue, neither in [terms of] legitimacy nor universality. As you know, this year, President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin proposed holding a meeting of the UN Security Council permanent members' heads of state, designed to provide answers to numerous questions related to strategic stability.

"Concluding my speech, I recall that back in September last year, on the sidelines of the Russian-Chinese conference of historians at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, a preliminary agreement was reached on concluding an agreement between the Russian Historical Society and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Historical Studies. When circumstances permit, we, of course, will hold a face-to-face meeting and sign this document.

"Meanwhile, I propose to develop our cooperation immediately and prepare for a meeting in advance of the anniversary [commemorating] the end of World War II.

"Thank you for your attention."

 

[1] Historyrussia.org, May 7, 2020.

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