Today, those democratic states that were part of the alliance that defeated Nazi Germany and its allies in Europe in 1945 observe Victory in Europe  – VE – Day. And today in Ukraine, the sacrifice and heroism this involved are also being remembered.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has reminded the world that “on the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism… we commemorate the millions of Ukrainians who fought and gained victory together with other nations.”

Ukraine and its population suffered terribly during World War II, and what occurred will never be forgotten or forgiven.

In mid-1945, as the full horror of what had occurred was becoming clearer, the victors created the United Nations to prevent wars and confidently proclaimed, “Never Again!” But unfortunately, that has proved to be wishful thinking.

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From that very moment of victory, the totalitarian Soviet Union, which had been Nazi Germany’s ally and accomplice in crime until June 1941, began imposing its totalitarian order on the countries and lands its forces had “liberated” from the fascists. Moscow’s domination and control over them was to last until the end of the 1980s, when the new Russian empire in a Soviet garb started collapsing.

Putin has borrowed generously from Hitler and the Nazis, transforming post-Soviet Russia into a latter-day variant of a fascist state.

In the remainder of Europe, totalitarianism was rooted out in Germany through a program of denazification, democracy bolstered, economic life restored through the Marshall Plan and the creation of the European Economic Union, collective security ensured by the creation of NATO, accompanied over time by the relinquishing of empire and processes of decolonization.

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In 1991, when the USSR fell apart, hopes were again raised that a rapacious anti-Western Russian empire in whatever form would never reappear to pose a mortal danger to peoples near and far.

Unfortunately, many were lulled into a false sense of security and complacency, for within a relatively short time, on gaining power, former KGB officer Vladimir Putin proclaimed, “Let’s make Russia great again” and strove to revive its traditional despotic and imperial goals and methods.

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Putin has borrowed generously from Hitler and the Nazis, transforming post-Soviet Russia into a latter-day variant of a fascist state. He achieved this by means of totalitarian methods at home, complete with the Fuhrer principle, disinformation and propaganda from the Goebbels school, aggressive expansionism abroad based on the notion of Russia’s greatness and the indivisibility of the “Russian world,” regardless of borders, and total disregard for international law and the Statute of the UN.

Hitler singled out the Jews as Germany’s main enemy and condemned them to extermination. Today, Putin has targeted the Ukrainians as the nation he’s determined to destroy because it jars with his imperial vision and schemes. His war against Ukraine is not simply about acquiring territory but is genocidal in its intent, as can already be seen from the ruthless methods being used and atrocious consequences.

The denial of the existence of a distinct Ukrainian nation with its own language culture, history, and right to independent statehood is being effected by ethnic cleansing, mass abduction of children, suppression of all forms of Ukrainian identity, and enforced Russification, which accompanies the mass killing and destruction being carried by Russian forces in Ukraine.

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As President Zelensky emphasizes: “Ukrainians are once again standing up to evil, which reemerged, returned, and wants to destroy us again. It’s an army of a fiend that kills, tortures and wipes peaceful cities and villages off the face of the Earth. This evil is called Russian fascism” – equated with Nazism.

The Ukrainian leader elaborates: “And everyone on Earth knows history and remembers how to fight Nazism. It’s done with humanity united to oppose Hitler, not with buying oil from him or attending his inauguration… A part of our territory is still occupied, and some of our people are held in captivity, which means that our battle continues.”

So, on VE-Day, we salute the example of those who liberated us from Nazism and draw inspiration, but also lessons, from them. We realize that today the scourge of fascism in its latest “Rashist” form has reappeared and is no less of a mortal challenge to our generation. As then, this monster must be defeated by our joint efforts.

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Forward towards a second VE-Day!

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