West's absence at parade was wrong
Updated: 2015-05-11 07:44
By Fu Jing(China Daily)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev (L) and China's President Xi Jinping take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the Victory Day by the Kremlin walls in central Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015. Russia marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe on Saturday with a military parade. [Photo/Agencies]
With a military parade in Red Square and other activities over the weekend, Moscow, indeed the whole of Russia, has been remembering the sacrifice the country made in the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany (1941-45).
It was reported that Kremlin sent out more than 60 invitations to various world leaders to attend the parade, but less 30 turned up to watch on Saturday.
Sources say the Kremlin sent invitations to Washington, London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Tokyo. But the leaders of Russia's key World War II allies, the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the other leaders all declined to attend.
One leader who did attend the parade was Chinese President Xi Jinping. From his writing published in the Russian media and also judging from his agenda, Xi sincerely wanted to honor the dead, the veterans and their families, and remind the world not to make the same mistake again. It is thought that around 70 percent of Russian families had at least one member who was killed or went missing during the war.
Like Russian President Vadimir Putin, Xi also looked forward to the appearance of the global leaders on this significant occasion.
But the Western leaders have shunned. They have extended their sanctions against Russia, due to Ukraine crisis, to boycotting participation in this celebration. This is a continuation of the conflict after the West excluded Russia from the G8 shortly after the start of the Ukraine crisis.
It should be noted that although German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not attend the parade, she flew to Moscow on Sunday to lay a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier and meet the Russian president.
Admittedly, Germany should be respected for doing so, for at least, it made the gesture to fully remember history, though Merkel arrived one day later. It is still uncertain how Japan will respond when Chinese people celebrate the 70th anniversary of Victory in the War of Chinese People's Resistance against Japanese Aggression in coming months.
The collective absence of Western leaders in remembering Russia's massive contribution to the fight against fascism is wrong. They should not link the current souring of ties with Russia with the remembrance of victory in the Great Patriotic War.
The leaders of the United States, France and UK, key members of United Nations, should actively have added their voices to the calls for greater efforts to achieve world peace.
As global leaders, they should have acted as "gentlemen", and accepted the possibility to maneuver a compromise with Moscow, which may have lead to a solution to the current crisis.
Having failed to attend the event, they should at least listen to what Putin said on Saturday. He greatly thanked the allies for their contribution during the Great Patriotic War. But he also criticized the US for trying to make the world unipolar.
One consequence of the Western leaders boycotting the parade, which they may not have foreseen, is the discontent it has triggered among young Russians. Some young Russians told me it is totally unacceptable, and the leaders of the West were "disappointing and mean".
The Western politicians should heed the words of these young people.
The author is China Daily chief correspondent in Brussels. firstname.lastname@example.org
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