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Presentation of awards to Arctic Convoys veterans

June 16, 2013, London

Vladimir Putin's visit to the UK began with the presentation of state awards to veterans who took part in the Arctic Convoys.

In a joint ceremony, Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron presented to 20 veterans the two countries' state awards: the Ushakov Medal and the Arctic Star.

The Arctic Convoys were special formations of transport and escort ships organised during World War II for the delivery of goods from North Atlantic ports to the northern ports of the Soviet Union (Arkhangelsk and Murmansk).

Address at the awards ceremony

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, friends, veterans,

In Russia we pay special attention and respect to all those who contributed to the fight against Nazism. We have entire state support programmes devoted to our veterans. We pay tribute to all those who have made a contribution, including our allies.

In this context, we have always felt a special consideration and respect for you and your comrades in arms. That is not only because of the enormous amount of material assistance that arrived in the Soviet Union with your help during World War II, but also because you and your comrades in arms displayed unprecedented courage and heroism, and thus gave all the nations of the world confidence in the final victory over Nazism.

I would like to speak here about your personal courage and heroism, rather than the general grandiose goals that united us. It is hard to imagine that in the winter and autumn, in the freezing cold with temperatures at 20–30 degrees below zero, during storms – and the waves in that part of the world ocean can reach 3, 5, 6, 7 metres – it is hard to imagine that in those conditions, convoys that were sometimes unarmed stayed the course and performed their sacred duty as allies.

Russians remember you and consider you heroes. For me it is an honour and a pleasure to see you here today and present you with the Russian Ushakov Medal. Let me remind you that Admiral Ushakov was a great Russian naval commander. In 1800, he, too, fulfilled his obligations as an ally and fought alongside your legendary naval commander Admiral Nelson.

Dear veterans,

I want to express my respect, appreciation and gratitude for all that you have done. Thank you very much.

June 16, 2013, London