Добрый день! I want to start by thanking Mikhail Gusman for the warm invitation to participate in this event today. I also want to thank the organizers of this initiative and the museums that are participating.
The Alaska-Siberia air route is an historic example of how Russians and Americans can work together. During World War II and many times before and since then, our countries have cooperated to bring the world of peace and prosperity.
This air route, and the brave servicemen who participated in the Lend-Lease program, serve as a reminder of the bravery, selflessness, and tremendous sacrifice of the people of our two nations. This was a route of heroes. Heroes who overcame incredible difficulties and dangers. Heroes who worked and lived together in the hardest conditions, and were pioneers in exploring an air route that seemed previously unimaginable.
Americans have deep respect for the tremendous sacrifices made by the people of the Soviet Union during World War II. Having served as Ambassador in Russia and other former Soviet states, I am acutely aware of the price that victory cost our countries. I have made an effort throughout my diplomatic career, and in particular this year to pay my respects by laying wreaths at memorials in nearly every town I have visited in Russia.
The Alaska-Siberia air route was part of our shared victory because it provided needed military supplies to the Soviet Army during the Lend-Lease program. Even though the political and economic systems of the United States and the Soviet Union were worlds apart during the Second World War, we were still able to cooperate in those years to achieve a greater good – the defeat of Nazi Germany. Today there are many global challenges that require the same type of coordinated action.
Despite the current tensions in our relationship, I am confident that Americans and Russians will continue to find common cause on issues of mutual interest. And initiatives like this serve as an important reminder that our countries can, have, and do work together. Let us commit ourselves to ensuring that this will always be the case.
Good luck with the flights. Thank you for inviting me here today.