GRAND VISION: Chinese President Hu Jintao and other state leaders join Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in observing the military parade on May 9 at Moscow's Red Square marking the 65th anniversary of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany (FAN RUJUN)
Russia's high-profile celebrations of the 65th anniversary of its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II earlier this month, said analysts, offered strong messages of peace, unity and confidence.
The celebrations culminated in a military parade in Moscow's Red Square on May 9. More than 11,000 service personnel took part in the parade, which featured 161 tanks and missiles as well as 127 aircraft.
Leaders and dignitaries from more than 20 foreign countries—including Chinese President Hu Jintao—joined Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the ceremony. Beyond Red Square, 19 other cities in Russia and in parts of the former Soviet Union staged similar military parades that day.
A show of confidence
These celebrations had powerful implications both domestically and around the world, said Zhao Mingwen, an expert on Russian studies at the China Institute of International Studies.
At a time when the devastating effects of the global financial crisis have yet to be fully resolved, the military parade in Moscow gave a badly needed boost to the Russian people's morale.
The proceedings highlighted Russia's recent military modernization efforts through the displays of sophisticated weaponry. But they would also likely help bolster the Russian public's confidence in the government, Zhao said.
From an international perspective, the parade sought to show Western leaders with a Cold War mentality that Moscow's priority concerns national defense rather than aggression.
This message struck a particularly important tone against the backdrop of the United States' planned deployments of anti-missile systems and interceptors in Eastern Europe, Zhao said.
In addition, by inviting veterans from former Soviet republics to partake in the Red Square parade, Russia, said Zhao, also enhanced its solidarity within the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The Great Patriotic War the Soviet Union fought against Nazi Germany and its allies from June 1941 to May 1945 is regarded as one of the most important parts of World War II—and one of its deadliest. In all, it is believed that 27 million Russians died before the Red Army beat back Adolf Hitler's forces to Berlin after their initial drives to take Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The Soviets helped the Chinese, too. At a crucial stage of China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), the Soviet Red Army marched into the battleground in northeast China to help fight Japanese invaders. During the eight-year war, China resisted 70 percent of Japanese fascist forces at a cost of more than 35 million lives.
Views of history
President Hu reflected upon the alliance in Moscow. "It is an iron-clad fact that China and the Soviet Union have made exceptional contributions to the victory of the world's anti-fascist war," he said, while meeting Russian war veterans who fought in the battles for the liberation of China's northeast.
The Chinese people, he said, continue to value highly the Soviet Union's role in World War II—and will by no means forget the Soviet Red Army's help.
World War II inflicted immeasurable losses on the Soviet Union, and almost every Russian family lost a loved one in the war, said Evgeny Tomikhin, Minister Counselor at the Russian Embassy in Beijing.
Nations around the world should neither forget these wars, he said, nor the circumstances surrounding them, to avoid the repetition of such a tragedy.
The celebrations were also a tribute to the veterans, of course. For instance, Russia has announced plans to establish a database for World War II veterans consisting of 30 million entries by the end of 2012. On May 9, the Russian Ministry of Defense began the endeavor by posting the first 600,000 entries on its website.
Russia is also in the process of tracking soldiers who went missing during World War II. For this undertaking, Russian military officials recently opened an office at the Russian Embassy in Beijing to search for missing soldiers in China.
It has thus far identified the remains of some 600 missing Russian soldiers in China, Tomikhin said.
The victory of the Great Patriotic War must continue to be a consolidating factor between Russia and many other countries in the world community—one that should also serve to erase any efforts at distorting the history of fascist aggression in Europe and Asia, he said.
There remains a heated debate in Eastern Europe about the Soviet Union's role in World War II, said Zhao. But there can be no doubt it was the Soviet Union that defeated Nazi Germany and played a pivotal role in helping secure a victory over fascism in World War II.
China also supported for the world's anti-fascist efforts by fighting Japanese aggression.
President Hu's presence in the Red Square parade was deemed as a sign showing China's backing for Russia from a diplomatic point of view. As strategic partners, the two countries always support each other on major issues, Zhao said.