Remarks by Ambassador John F. Tefft at the opening ceremony of the VI International Forum “To the Glory of Fleet and Motherland” in Arkhangelsk

Remarks by Ambassador John F. Tefft at the opening ceremony of the VI International Forum “To the Glory of Fleet and Motherland” in Arkhangelsk


August 30, 2016

Seventy five years ago, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk witnessed something incredible – British ships unloading American weapons to be handed over to Soviet troops.

It was an act of solidarity that proved decisive to the Allied victory in WWII. As Stalin himself once put it, “Without assistance from the Americans, we would not have been able to defeat the enemy.”[1]

Despite the differences of ideology that separated their governments, when faced with the mortal threat of Nazism, our parents and grandparents were able to support one another in the struggle for victory.

The American and Russian people justifiably look back on that period in our history with great pride.

The sacrifices that that victory required seem almost unimaginable — hundreds of thousands of American, British, Canadian, Australian, NZ, Polish and other allied soldiers; tens of thousands of French and Polish resistance fighters; tens of millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and others who so bravely and courageously defended their Soviet homeland.

It is a sacrifice we will never forget, it is a sacrifice that we must never forget.

There have been times since those days when we have not worked so closely together. That is why commemorations like one we’re having today are so important.

When we remember the Arctic Convoys, we are reminded of all that we can accomplish through mutual support and solidarity.

Just as it was our parents’ and grandparents’ great achievement to join forces to defeat fascism, our great achievement can be to show the world what we can achieve when Americans, Russians, Britons and others work together in times of peace.

The American and Russian people now have the chance not simply to rescue one other from a dire threat, but to build each other up.

Today we have the opportunity in many areas to work together again — not simply to save the world, but to make it a better world.

We already know how much our peoples can achieve when we work together.

For example our astronauts and cosmonauts work side by side in orbit to explore the outer reaches of the cosmos and the limits of human endurance.

Our scientists work together to expand the horizons of knowledge and invent new miracles of technology.

Our poets, and artists, and musicians inspire one another as they explore the frontiers of human imagination.

While previous generations of Americans and Russians had to set aside differences of ideology in order to defeat a common enemy, we face no such obstacle today.

We know the truth which ideology obscured from them: that deep down, the Russian, American and other people share common values, including a deep respect for the lessons of history and a commitment to making the world a better place for our children and grandchildren.

Together, we have the opportunity to live up to those ideals — but making the effort to improve the world requires a conscious choice on our part.

I know that we can make that choice. I see every day how powerful it can be when people strive together toward a common goal. That is why I believe we must do everything we can to ensure that the bond between our peoples remains as strong today as it was 75 years ago.

Thank you very much!

[1] “Без американской помощи мы не смогли бы победить врагов.” (Russian)