70th Anniversary of the End of World War II: Lessons from History and New Vistas

In the current complicated international situation marked by a high level of turbulence and more pronounced manifestations of crisis, we must not forget the lessons of the past in order to avoid making irreparable mistakes in the future. The world’s future cannot be determined by one state or a small group of states.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article for Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Renmin Ribao, 24 August 2015

The current year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. This anniversary has special significance for Russia and China. Our countries fought Nazism and Japanese militarism together, they bore the brunt of the aggression and sustained the greatest casualties. The unprecedented courage and self-sacrifice, as well as the mobilisation of all forces, enabled our nations to hold out during that terrible battle and to win.

The aggressive actions of Japan, which occupied Manchuria in 1931 and unleashed large-scale hostilities against China in 1937, served as a preamble for World War II. The Soviet Union became the only state to provide real assistance to China. The USSR delivered modern warplanes, tanks, artillery systems, small arms, machine guns, communications and various types of military materiel to China. About 5,000 Soviet military experts, including a large group of pilots, were involved in combat operations.

After Tokyo refused to surrender, the USSR, loyal to its allied obligations, entered the war in the Far East. Soviet forces swiftly defeated a powerful Japanese army group. Northeastern China and Korea were liberated from Japanese occupation.

Tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers gave their lives for the freedom and independence of China. We are happy to see that Beijing honours the memory of our compatriots. In 2015, Heilongjiang Province hosted the first joint search team expedition, whose members managed to locate the remains of Soviet soldiers.

Today, we are witnessing an undisguised desire to falsify the history of the war and to put henchmen and their victims on an equal footing. Not only is this an insult to our nations, but it also undermines the foundations of the modern world order, which is formalised in the UN Charter. Therefore, it is vitally important that our states share the commitment to continue resolutely defending the historical truth and the fruits of Victory. In this context, it is hard to overestimate the participation of Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, in celebrations of the 70th Victory Day anniversary in Moscow and the fact that a unit of the PRC Armed Forces marched in formation during a military parade in Red Square.

In the current complicated international situation marked by a high level of turbulence and more pronounced manifestations of crisis, we must not forget the lessons of the past in order to avoid making irreparable mistakes in the future. The world’s future cannot be determined by one state or a small group of states. The bombing of Yugoslavia, the occupation of Iraq, chaos in Libya and the fratricidal war in Ukraine prove convincingly that a deviation from this textbook wisdom, as well as the desire to dominate the world, to impose one’s own will, views and values on other states lead to tragic consequences.

Seventy years ago, the members of the anti-Hitler coalition managed to rise above their ambitions and disagreements and to unite for the sake of defeating their common enemy and destroying its criminal ideology. The establishment of the United Nations Organisation, whose 70th anniversary is widely celebrated this year, was the most important result of those joint efforts.

This spirit of cooperation and the overall lessons of World War II confirm that there is no alternative to working together to find effective answers to large-scale threats facing the international community. They also highlight the value of equitable and mutually respectful partnership, which, in effect, is the only way to prevent new conflicts.

This philosophy lies at the foundation of Russian-Chinese ties, which are currently at the highest level in their entire history and which continue to develop steadily. They are based on feelings of sincere friendship and sympathy between our nations, profound mutual respect and trust, consideration for each other’s key interests and mutual concern for the prosperity of our countries. In effect, we can talk about a new type of inter-state relations and a cooperation model for the 21st century.

Our interaction on the international stage became an important factor of maintaining international and regional stability. Russia and China voice coinciding or similar approaches to key current issues, they consistently advocate the creation of a new polycentric world order resting on international law, respect for unique national identities, the right of nations to independently choose their own development models. We resolutely oppose efforts to impose one’s will on sovereign states, including by force, unilateral sanctions and the overall use of double standards.

We are effectively coordinating our efforts at various multilateral venues, including the UN, the G20, as well as BRICS and the SCO, which held successful summits in July 2015 in Ufa. We invariably provide support to each other.

Increasing interdependence in conditions of globalisation, the emergence and assertion of new centres of power and influence are calling for unconventional and innovative approaches to guarantee sustained global economic development. And this task can only be accomplished through joint efforts, logic of partnership and mutual benefits.

The Eurasian Economic Union, which started operating on January 1, 2015, is called on to become a crucial factor in ensuring sustained economic development of its members. At the same time, we don’t oppose Eurasian and other integration processes, but are ready to help correlate them and to build bridges between Europe and the Asia Pacific region. China’s Silk Road Economic Belt concept has the same constructive essence. These projects stipulate the creation of a common economic infrastructure, and this vector provides wide-ranging opportunities for harmonising our efforts.

An important milestone in this area was the Russian-Chinese joint statement on cooperation to integrate the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt, which our countries signed on May 8 in Moscow. This essentially implies a long-term strategy to ensure the mutually complementary nature of these initiatives, so that all the participants would reap maximum benefits. It is important that in our joint work we will adhere to the principles of transparency, mutual respect, equality and openness for all the concerned parties in Asia and Europe. This, of course, will be a lengthy process, but as the ancient Chinese saying notes, a strong man will overcome an obstacle, and a wise man will get to the end.

Strengthening regional stability is an essential condition for expanding fruitful cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, which will continue to play an increasingly crucial role in the global economy and politics. This explains the need for creating reliable regional mechanisms for guaranteeing equal and indivisible security, and such mechanisms should be based on non-aligned approaches. In September 2010, Russia and China advanced an initiative for Asia Pacific security and cooperation aiming to accomplish this task. With due account for its principles, Russia, China and Brunei suggested launching efforts to create a regional architecture that would correspond to the current environment. In October 2013, this proposal was supported at the 8th East Asia Summit.

We are planning to do everything possible together with our Chinese friends in order to elevate our cooperation to new historical levels for the benefit of our nations and for the sake of asserting the ideals of justice and equality on the international scene. Detailed and trust-based top-level dialogue is a highly important factor of success. I’m confident that the upcoming visit of President Vladimir Putin to China, scheduled for early September, will provide a powerful additional impulse to our multifaceted strategic partnership and will help further unlock its truly inexhaustible potential.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.