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Putin, Peres Unveil WW2 Memorial in Netanya: Russia, Israel Honour Red Army for Ending Holocaust

1y ago
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a quick "one-day" official state visit to Israel. It's Putin's second trip -- he first visited the Jewish State back in 2005. The Russian leader made his first stop in the coastal city of Netanya to inaugurate a memorial to the soldiers of the Red Army who died during World War II. Designed by Russian sculptor Salvant Sherbahkov, the 2- part memorial follows a traditional Jewish motif of moving from darkness to light... Disturbing images of the pain and destruction of the war and the Holocaust line the dark walls of the first part of the memorial... Close by, two soaring white wing-like sculptures perched over the ocean are meant to represent hope... Speaking at the inauguration, President Shimon Peres said Israel owes a deep debt of gratitude to the Russian army for its decisive role in the triumph over Nazism...if not for their bravery, he said, there's no certainty we would all be standing here today... Peres said he was convinced that Russia, which fought facism, would not tolerate threats from Iran or bloodshed in Syria. Many expect Israeli leaders to ask Putin to take a tougher stand on stopping Iran's nuclear program. Putin said the memorial made a strong emotional impression on him and that it represented the immortal heroism of the war generation. He praised the Red Army for putting an end to the atrocities of the Nazis and for saving from destruction not just the Jewish people, but other peoples. 500,000 Russian Jews fought in the Red Army. Some veterans who moved to Israelcame to the inauguration, like 90 year old Roman Yagel. Together Putin and Peres placed a wreath for the fallen soldiers at the foot of the memorial...a solemn moment for the two leaders. Putin stayed away from the hot-button issues, saying nothing about Iran, Syria or the peace process where his policies diverge from that of Israeli leaders. This first stop in Netanya was what we could call the symbolic part of Putin's trip. Later today the real political work will begin as he meets The Prime Minister, The Defense Minister, The head of the Israeli Army and holds more meetings with the Israeli President. There is still much that divides Israel and Russia even though the relationship is getting stronger. Of course the primary concern is Israel and Russia can come together in solving the nuclear dispute with Iran. Jordana Miller, JN1, Netanaya.