Bush Observes World War II Victory Ceremonies in Moscow
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2005 President Bush joined Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders today in Moscow's Red Square to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe during World War II.
The celebration, known in Russia as Victory Day, honors what Putin called a "victory of good over evil" and a remembrance of an estimated 27 million Russians who died during the conflict.
Today's observance included a parade in Red Square, with some 2,500 World War II veterans participating. Afterward, Bush joined others in laying red carnations at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall.
On his May 8 arrival in Moscow, Bush called the celebration "a moment where the world will recognize the great bravery and sacrifice the Russian people made in the defeat of Nazism."
Bush noted that despite suffering "incredible hardship" during World War II, "the Russian spirit never died out."
Other World War II allies celebrate V-E, or "Victory in Europe," Day May 8, the day Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies in 1945. Bush participated in V-E Day ceremonies May 8 at the American cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands.
However, Russia has historically waited until May 9 to celebrate the end of what it calls the Great Patriotic War.
During his address today, Putin praised the sense of teamwork that led to the Allied victory in Europe six decades ago. "Dear friends, we never divide the victory into ours and theirs," he said. "We'll always remember the help of the Allies, the United States, Great Britain, France and other countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, the German and Italian anti-fascists."
Today's ceremonies followed what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called "straightforward" May 8 talks between Bush and Putin about a wide range of issues. In addition to prospects for peace in the Middle East, the two leaders discussed North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia's ascension into the World Trade Organization, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a joint press briefing with Rice following the talks.
Bush and Putin also discussed Bush's call for democratic reform in Russia, Rice said.