Can Russia be proud of postwar history?


The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

Russia’s hard-line stance of showing off its military might and indicating its readiness to allow the prolongation of its confrontation with the United States and European countries was conspicuous. Russia held a ceremony in Moscow on Saturday to celebrate the 70th anniversary marking the triumph over German Nazism in World War II. The military parade �X the largest of its kind ever �X was held with about 16,000 officers and soldiers, 190 tanks and military vehicles, and 140 aircraft taking part. Also appearing in the parade was Russia’s latest land-based intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. It was a provocative display that reminds us of the era of the Cold War between the East and the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech delivered at the start of the parade, called for building a non-bloc international security system. His comments were meant to indicate his intention to counter the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Leaders of the group of seven major advanced countries were all absent from the ceremony this year. The cause of their absence is Russia. Its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in March last year amounted to seizure of territory of a sovereign state. Such an act cannot be overlooked. It was only reasonable that most European countries refrained from having their heads of state attend the ceremony. Only about 20 heads of state or their equivalents, including some from newly emerging economies, participated in the ceremony. A comparison with a similar ceremony held 10 years ago with more than 50 top leaders �X including Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, U.S. President George W. Bush, and Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder �X attending makes the seriousness of the rift between Russia and Japan, the United States and European countries obvious.

Russia, China Show Cozy Ties Putin invited Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a guest of honor to stress Russia’s intimate relationship with China. Following their talks, Putin and Xi issued a joint statement criticizing ��German Nazism and Japanese militarism�� and opposing attempts ��to distort history.�� Xi may have aimed at holding Japan in check, bearing in mind that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce a statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Putin seems to have been trying to prevent Russia from becoming isolated in the international community by joining forces with China over issues related to historical perceptions. Russia and China have apparently been attempting to behave as if they were the guardians of the postwar international order, by emphasizing their status as ��victorious nations�� 70 years ago. But it is Russia and China that are attempting to unilaterally change the postwar order and international rules. Russia is moving ahead with its intervention in Ukraine both on the military and diplomatic fronts. And China continues its maritime advance heavy-handedly in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Any attempts to ignore the ��rule of law�� with the use of force and to justify them with self-righteous logic can never be tolerated. Russia’s meddling in Ukraine also makes us recall the former Soviet Union’s control over East European nations. Unless Russia changes its stance, sanctions imposed by Japan, the United States and EU countries will never be lifted, possibly perpetuating the confrontation in relations. This is an editorial published by The Yomiuri Shimbun on May, 13th