Posted on May 10, 2020
A U.N. Security Council meeting conducted online on Friday, the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War II in Europe, saw clashes between Russia and European delegates, with a thinly veiled threat from Russia’s Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia warning that a new global war “may become the final for mankind.”
Nearly 70 speakers, including more than 45 foreign ministers and the European Union’s top diplomat, took part in the informal video meeting organised by Estonia, which holds the council presidency this month, on lessons learned from the war for preventing future atrocities and the Security Council’s responsibility.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the hope for a better future after the war that killed over 60 million people led to the creation of the United Nations and the European Union, “and it found its expression in the forgiveness that my country has received from its former enemies,” which “to this day ... fills us with immense gratitude and humility.”
He said Germany’s commitment to global solutions and multilateralism “is based on our historic experience — that nationalism leads to destruction.”
Maas said that during the last months, “we have witnessed attempts to stir up nationalist feelings by trying to rewrite history.”
“Those who try to turn the victims into perpetrators and the attacked into attackers are violating the memory of the victims,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”
Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, who chaired the meeting, rejected Russia’s recent attempts “to manipulate historical events” and justify the August 1939 non-aggression treaty between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, with its secret protocol dividing Europe into spheres of influence for each of them.
Reinsalu said the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact “paved the way for the outbreak of World War II.”
“We should remember that after the war, for half a century, many European nations remained under direct Soviet suppression, deprived of freedom, sovereignty, dignity, human rights and free development,” Reinsalu said.
He stressed that World War II “taught us to protect our freedom, to reject and condemn the illegal use of force and to cooperate in order to achieve and preserve peace.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia countered that “the Soviet Union was the main victim in that war and at the same time it made the biggest sacrifice.”
He also said that claims that the Soviet Red Army didn’t liberate countries from Nazism but put them “into enslavement” are also an “insult".
Rewriting history, something that Vladimir Putin has been recently accused of by the EU institutions, "has become a popular trend,” Nebenzia stated ironically. “The aim is clear, to shift the blame to deprive Russia retroactively of its status as one of the heroes of World War II.”
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“What fortunately the world has not seen is another world war which would have been nuclear and catastrophic, but we shouldn’t be complacent about it,” he said. “Current international relations show some trends that are reminiscent of those before World War I and World War II - deep distrust among major international players, attempts to achieve hegemony, unilateral actions, scapegoat — to name a few.”
Nebenzia expressed hope that the wisdom and will to act together against common threats and challenges will prevail today as it did during World War II, before issuing his warning that a new global war “may become the final for mankind.”
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