By Agence France-Presse
The Allied invasion on D-Day 75 years ago did not determine the course of World War II and its importance should not be exaggerated, Russia’s foreign ministry said Wednesday.
Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists that it was the efforts of the Soviet Union, which entered the war in 1941, that secured victory.
“According to historians, the Normandy landing did not fundamentally influence the result of World War II,” she said.
She spoke as Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday led Britain’s commemorative events to mark the largest amphibious assault in history that left 4,400 troops dead on its first day.
Dozens of world leaders including US President Donald Trump attended, while President Vladimir Putin — who attended 70th-anniversary celebrations five years ago — hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Moscow.
The main commemorations will be held in Normandy on Thursday.
“The contribution of the Allies to victory over the Third Reich is understood,” Zakharova said while cautioning that “it should not be exaggerated nor should we downplay the titanic achievements of the Soviet Union, without which this victory would simply not exist.”
Russia regularly accuses the West of failing to properly understand or acknowledge the enormous human losses — estimated at 27 million deaths — the Soviet Union suffered and the significance of key engagements such as the long-drawn-out Battle of Stalingrad.
Zakharova said Russian historians consider the Allied forces delayed opening a second front to allow heavy fighting with Soviet troops in the east to weaken Nazi forces.
Russians in turn often know little about the Western Front or the aid that the Soviet Union received from the United States to fight the war.
Zakharova said that WWII victory was “predetermined as a result of Red Army victories”, citing the battles of Stalingrad in 1942 and Kursk in 1943.