Russian President Vladimir Putin penned an article Be open despite the past for the German weekly Die Zeit. The article is dedicated to the 80th anniversary since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The Russian translation of the article was posted on the official website of the Kremlin.
Vladimir Putin wrote that the Great Patriotic War was the most violent conflict in Russian history that claimed the lives of tens of millions of people, and caused overwhelming damage to economy and cultural heritage.
"We are proud of the courage and resilience of the heroes of the Red Army and front workers, who not only defended the independence and dignity of the Motherland, but also saved Europe and the world from enslavement,” Putin wrote.
Despite the current attempts to rewrite history, "the truth is that the Soviet soldier came to German land not to take revenge on the Germans — he came with a noble and great mission of the liberator."
Putin also pointed out contribution of the allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, resistance members and German anti-fascists that made victory over Nazism possible.
After World War II, the peoples of the continent managed to regain mutual trust and respect and started a movement towards integration to draw a final line under the European tragedies of the first half of the 20th century.
"I want to stress it out here that the historical reconciliation of our people and the Germans, who lived both in the east and in the west of modern-day united Germany, played a huge role for the formation of Europe,” Putin said.
He recalled that it was German businessmen who laid the foundation to Europe's cooperation with the USSR in the second half of the 20th century:
"In 1970, the USSR and the FRG concluded the "deal of the century” about long-term natural gas supplies to Europe, which laid the foundation for constructive interdependence, which launched the beginning to numerous ambitious projects afterwards, including the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline.”
According to Putin, Russia was striving to build one single continent, from Lisbon to Vladivostok, as Charles de Gaulle used to dream.
"However, a different approach prevailed. It was based on the expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance, which itself was a Cold War relic. After all, it was set up to confront the times of that era," Putin wrote.
It was NATO's eastward expansion that became the main reason for the growth of mutual mistrust on the continent. More than a dozen states became new members of the bloc, including former union republics of the USSR.
"Moreover, many countries were faced with an artificial choice — either to be with the collective West or with Russia. In fact, it was an ultimatum,” the Russian president wrote.
The consequences of such an aggressive expansion of the alliance can be seen in the Ukrainian tragedy of 2014," he wrote.
"Why did the United States organize a coup, and European countries weakly supported it, having thus triggered the split of Ukraine and the secession of Crimea?" Putin wrote, noting that the entire system of European security has degraded considerably.
Vladimir Putin urged to remember that post-WWII history of Greater Europe proves that the prosperity and security of the continent can only be guaranteed through cooperation between all European countries, including Russia.
"Russia is one of the largest European states. We feel our inseparable cultural and historical connection with Europe. We are open to honest and constructive interaction,” Putin wrote, noting that Moscow advocates the restoration of comprehensive partnership with Europe.
Many in Russia reacted painfully to the disappearance of private military company Wagner from the information field