Ambassador Andrei Kelin’s address on the occasion of the ceremony dedicated to the veterans of the Arctic Convoys
Dear friends and guests!
It is an honour for me to welcome you all at this very impressive ceremony dedicated to the veterans of the Arctic Convoys. Whatever the circumstances may be around us, like the coronavirus and the due lockdown today, we should never forget the much more severe conditions that our nations had experienced in World War II. The courage and bravery, the strength and the will of our people, as well as the sacrifices they had to go through should remain an example for the future generations.
Today we not only celebrate the shared history and joint achievements of Russia and the UK in World War II but also the true brotherhood in arms of our people, a bright example of which were the Arctic Convoys. The Allied seamen showed true heroism in their long and perilous sea passages, being constantly attacked by enemy forces in the appalling weather conditions of the Arctic. Delivery of over four million tons of supplies for use by the Soviet forces has contributed to the defeat of the German Army on the Eastern Front.
Despite everything, you, dear veterans, stood to the end to deliver the much needed aid. We sincerely admire, respect and thank you for this.
Starting from 2014 right up to this year, upon the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation, the Embassy has presented the Russian state award – the Ushakov Medal – to around three and a half thousand Arctic Convoys veterans. The coronavirus has indeed introduced certain restrictions to these activities, yet once the lockdown is over we shall continue to make sure that each award finds its hero. In 2020, to mark the anniversary of the Victory, we also awarded the special commemorative medals ‘75 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War’, honoring the military merits of British veterans, your contribution to our common victory over fascism, you fight in the name of truth and justice. The memory of these and other heroic examples of joint combat and mutual support continues to live in our hearts.
I would also like to thank the British Embassy in Moscow for organising this event so that we could celebrate the veterans and acknowledge the success of our two countries’, as of the Allied Forces’ in general, cooperation – something that the world desperately needs today to tackle the various challenges and threats it faces.
Allow me to wish you and your relatives good health, joy and peace!