Stolen victory: How Russia appropriated defeat of Nazism

For the EU, WWII is a tragedy and a crime against humanity never to be repeated. Having chosen to be a European nation, Ukraine is becoming more principled in treating history fairly.

WWII began as a result of a conspiracy between two totalitarian giants – Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR. These juggernauts have separated and destroyed Central and Eastern Europe. None of the two regimes were moral in their ways of war: Katyn’ and Babyn Yar, Holocaust and Holodomor are comparable crimes against humanity. Every fifth Ukrainian has perished as a result of war. For Ukraine, both regimes are criminal according to the law.

Every European nation that has learned from the WWII atrocities to never again repeat them has the right to be part of the victory. May 8 is an important day for Germany and Italy because they share the grief and recognise their crimes. Russia’s cynical attempts to appropriate and exploit the memory of the victory over Nazism and to use it for justifying this full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been condemned in a joint statement of Permanent Missions of 50 states in the UN.

The Russian Federation has no right to claim victory for itself, because it has not learned the lessons of WWII. It appropriated the military achievements and the moral right of a joint victory. The Russian aggression and rhetoric against Ukraine clearly demonstrates that Russia adopted the spirit of revanchism and militarism as its contemporary state ideology. Russia’s manipulation with “victory over Faschism” started in the USSR, where the unity of Soviet peoples brought the Nazi coalition down. Only three victory parades took place in the USSR after 1945: 1965, 1985 and 1990. In 2010, Putin’s rhetoric shifted from solidarity of peoples to recognising Russian people’s sole role in the victory. Since then, there has been a victory parade in the Red Square every year. Russian nationalism, not post-WWII humanism drives Russia’s victory frenzy.


  • Volodymyr Vyatrovych, historian, Ukrainian MP Ivan Patrylyak, phD in history, writer, dean of the history department at the
  • Taras Shevchenko National University
  • Yurii Mytrofanenko, historian and activist

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