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On memory of Great Patriotic War, Stalin and Hitler (TASS interview)

March 10, 2020

The tenth part of Vladimir Putin's interview to TASS News Agency has been published.

The 20 Questions with Vladimir Putin project is an interview with the President of Russia on the most topical subjects of social and political life in Russia and the world. Total recording time is 3.5 hours.

Andrei Vandenko: Victory. The 75th anniversary. Do you believe that it is fundamentally important that all leaders come?

Vladimir Putin: Not at all. It is our holiday. But I think that for our former allies in the anti-Hitler coalition the right thing to do would be to come here, from both a domestic policy stance and a moral one. We look forward to seeing them and we will be glad if they come. If not, well, that is their choice. But I think that would be a mistake for them.

Andrei Vandenko: Do you get the feeling that they want to deprive us of this victory?

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not. That is impossible. It would go against common sense. You see, there are some ignorant people who cannot even write or read. They spout all kinds of garbage in the European Parliament about the ‘equal’ responsibility of Hitler and Stalin. Complete nonsense. You have to look at the chain of events starting around 1918–1919, and at what was going on then, who signed what with Hitler. Incidentally, Stalin, regardless of what anyone thinks of him (that he was a tyrant or whatever), never disgraced himself by having direct or face-to-face contact with Hitler. What is more, not a single document was ever signed by both Stalin and Hitler.

In contrast, there are documents signed by both Hitler and the British Prime Minister, Hitler and the Prime Minister of France. And also by both Hitler and the leader of Poland. And they worked with him, with Hitler, held numerous meetings with him, and betrayed Czechoslovakia. Poland carved up Czechoslovakia with Hitler. In fact, they agreed on invading Czechoslovakia. The only thing that Hitler told them was, ”Do not do it on the same day with us. Let us not get in each other’s way. We do not want what you are after, Tesin Region.“ This was outright collusion. Just read it. Everything is in the documents. I dug them up from the archives. I looked through them and read them.

Andrei Vandenko: Yes, we read and heard about it.

Vladimir Putin: Of course, everything is in there. And after that they tell us who is to blame. They are the ones who are guilty starting from 1938. It was precisely the Munich Betrayal that was the first step to ignite World War II.

Andrei Vandenko: Poland places the Soviet Union on the same footing as… Warsaw officially equates the Soviet Union to Hitler’s Germany, equally blaming both sides and accusing both countries of unleashing World War II. And we immediately reach for our boxing gloves.

Vladimir Putin: We are not doing that. We have condemned the Molotov–Ribbentrop secret protocol. Russia has done that. In turn, other countries could also honestly say how they feel about the way their leadership acted back then. Let them honestly open up about it, instead of hurling some fictitious, absolutely baseless accusations and allegations.

Andrei Vandenko: You are talking about the past, while I am focusing on today. Look…

Vladimir Putin: No-no-no.

Andrei Vandenko: Polish leaders did not invite you to the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.

Vladimir Putin: This is not a big deal.

Andrei Vandenko: However, Zelensky attended the event and was talking about the 1st Ukrainian Front, the 100th Lvov Division…

Vladimir Putin: We all know this is nonsense. We know that this is about today's political landscape. But what about the millions of Ukrainians who fought against Hitler, and against Nazism? To them, this is a slap in the face. I assure you. They are just afraid to open their mouth because they know they will immediately be subjected to intimidation. I know how people feel in their hearts, those who took up arms to battle Nazism. This is a slap in the face to them. But Ukraine’s incumbent president wants to look good in the eyes of Poland’s current government, and in my opinion, this is a terrible mistake.

Andrei Vandenko: And what do you think of slogans like ”We can do it again“ in the run-up to May 9…

Vladimir Putin: What slogans?

Andrei Vandenko: You know, the ones usually seen on the back of a BMW or a Mercedes on May 9, ”We can do it again“, ”To Berlin!“, ”Thank you Grandpa for the Victory“…

Vladimir Putin: “Thank you Grandpa for the Victory” is a good one.

Andrei Vandenko: What about ”We can do it again“?

Vladimir Putin: You know what? It could be interpreted in many ways. The Soviet Union was subjected to a dreadful, horrible, unforgivable attack by Nazi Germany. We lost 27 million people. No other country in the world sustained such an enormous loss. Therefore, if anyone ever dares to try anything like that again, “we can do it again”.

Andrei Vandenko: Well, it would have been better if we never had to.

Vladimir Putin: Of course, we never wanted it and never will. Accordingly, the Russian leadership has never looked at this issue from that angle. Therefore, if we consider the slogan you mentioned from this perspective, it is enough to recall the words of Alexander Nevsky, ”Whosoever comes with a sword will fall by the sword.“

March 10, 2020