A historic memorial dedicated to the Red Army’s victory over Nazi forces during World War II will open next week in Netanya, Israel.
The monument is believed to be the first memorial dedicated to the Red Army’s victory over German forces during the second world war, outside of former Soviet Union states, and is the official basis for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Israel next week.
A number of Russian billionaires, including Mikhail Fridman, Boris Mints, and German Khan, donated $600,000 to create the memorial, in conjunction with efforts made by the Russian Jewish Congress, the World Forum on Russian Jewry, and United Israel Appeal.
Israeli President Shimon Peres will join Putin and Yury Kanner, who heads the RJC, along with other state officials from both nations and Jewish leaders from around the globe, to mark the memorial’s opening in Netanya on June 25.
“May 9th is ‘Victory Day’. It is very important for Russian Jews and important for all Russians. We are sponsoring a monument in Netanya, to all the Russian Jews living there – May 9th is their holy day,” Kanner told The Algemeiner in May, referring to the day in which Russians commemorate their defeat of Nazi forces during World War II.
Approximately 11 million Red Army soldiers were killed during World War II, including 120,000 Jews who were serving for the Soviet Union’s forces.
Following the event in Netanya, Putin is scheduled to travel to Jerusalem for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the issues of Iran’s nuclear program and Russia’s continued support for Syrian President Bashar Assad are expected to dominate discussions between the two leaders.
In an interview with the Washington Post this week, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated that if Russia and the United States worked together to combat Assad’s crackdown of the Syrian opposition, a viable solution to the conflict could be reached.
If “America and Russia talk[ed] together about who can use what leverage, that could be extremely effective… It’s time for the world to dictate to Mr. Assad to move out of power or else. But the ‘or else’ can be convincing only if America and Russia will join hands,” Barak told the paper.
Putin’s last visit to Israel occurred in 2005, marking the first time a Russian president stepped foot on Israeli soil.