As the United States, Great Britain, and France were busy celebrating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the Russians decided to revive an old complaint of theirs by throwing some shade. According to the Hill, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted:
“The Normandy landings were not a game-changer for the outcome of WWII and the Great Patriotic War. The outcome was determined by the Red Army’s victories – mainly, in Stalingrad and Kursk. For three years, the UK and then the US dragged out opening the second front.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry continued, “Even if it was late, the opening of the second front was aimed at supporting Soviet troops in their combat missions. In fact, we ended up helping our Western allies who were defeated by the Nazis in the Ardennes. We hope our partners remember this.”
A kernel of truth exists in the complaint. The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the fury of Nazi Germany ever since Hitler invaded that country on June 21, 1941. The Germany armies fought their way to the gates of Moscow before Red Army troops finally stopped them.
The victories at Stalingrad the following year and at Kursk the year after that were just as impressive and just as bloody. By the time the war in Europe ended, soon after the Soviets took Berlin, the USSR lost 20 million people.
On the other hand, the complaint leaves out a lot of details as Hot Air mentions:
“Ahem. It’s true that Russia had to contend with more German units than the Allies did in France. This ignores the fact that the Allies had fought the Nazis in North Africa and up the Italian peninsula for several years prior to D-Day, not to mention the naval warfare that the US and UK conducted. Furthermore, even after the Soviets allied with the US, UK, and Free France, they pointedly refused to declare war on Japan, where the US and the Commonwealth were committing massive forces against Hitler’s ally. Stalin declared war on Japan only after the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to demand territorial gains.”
“Even apart from that, this ignores the fact that Stalin made a greedy agreement with Hitler to divvy up Poland. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in August 1939, a craven and disgusting act, guaranteed the start of World War II. Would Hitler have invaded Poland without the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? Probably, but it would have meant keeping his eastern front prepared for a Soviet reaction. Instead, Hitler overran the Netherland, Belgium, and France … all without Stalin opening up a ‘second front.’
“The Soviets made the mistake of not taking Hitler’s demand for lebensraum seriously and thought they could seize land on the cheap until Hitler finally turned on Stalin when he thought the time was right. Until then, Stalin’s communist proxies in France, the UK, and the US argued not for a ‘second front’ but for isolationism and a hands-off approach to the conflict in eastern Europe.”
The second tweet is pure fiction. The Germans did penetrate allied lines during the Battle of the Bulge that started on December 16, 1944. But the battle ended in a decisive victory for the allies thanks to a counterattack mounted by General George Patton.
Aside from that, after the war was over, the Soviets occupied eastern Europe, including half of Germany, and threatened to take the rest of the continent, causing the United States and her allies to create the NATO alliance that kept the peace for forty-five years. Even today, NATO has to stay intact to counter Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambitions.
Indeed, aside from the notion that aside from D-Day the Nazis might have been able to deploy enough troops to stop the Red Army, the invasion of Europe stopped the Soviets from eventually marching to the English Channel had Hitler failed. Russia must remember that.
According to the Washington Examiner, a number of veterans and military historians reminded the Russians that without the massive lend-lease program that flooded the USSR with supplies, Hitler might have overrun the Soviet Union.
The Russians call World War II “the Great Patriotic War,” an event that was very convenient for the Kremlin to rally the people it ruled not only during that conflict but afterward, when it confronted the civilized world with nuclear weapons. Only the United States replaced Nazi Germany in the narrative of Soviet propaganda. The Russian leadership has always been somewhat unappreciative of the western allied help that saved the USSR from Nazi conquest.