Category: USSR
Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia
worker | May 31, 2021 | 7:40 pm | Fascist terrorism, Red Army, USSR | No comments

https://www.rt.com/russia/525251-mass-grave-soviet-prisoners-voronezh-region/

Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia

Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia
Volunteers in Russia’s Voronezh Region have discovered a mass grave with the remains of hundreds of Soviet prisoners at the site of a former concentration camp that housed workers building a railway from Berlin to Stalingrad.

That’s according to Mikhail Segodin, the head of Don, a group dedicated to finding the remains of people killed by the Nazi occupiers during World War II.

Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia

Segodin explained, “640 people have been discovered. We also found four death medallions. Two of them were empty, and two had inserts, one of which is fully legible. We also found a Red Army book, which we will send for examination, and a spoon marked with a surname.”

During World War II, Red Army soldiers were issued with metal medallions, in which they were supposed to put a piece of paper with their personal details on it for identification purposes, in case they were killed.

RT

Prisoners at war at the camp, named DUGAG-191 and located near the village of Lushnikovka, were being used to build a secret railroad called ‘Berlinka’, which was intended to link Germany to Stalingrad, now called Volgograd. The Nazis created at least 17 camps along the route in the Voronezh Region, killing thousands in the process of construction.

The decision to build the railroad was taken after the Battle of Stalingrad, where the German army suffered a crushing defeat. The Nazis were left low on manpower and supplies and desperately needed an improved logistics network to get ammunition and food to the front line.

ALSO ON RT.COMGenocide has no statute of limitations: Russia reopens case into Nazi murder of 214 disabled kidsIn 2010, Segodin’s group Don began to focus on those killed building the railroad. The excavations are also being conducted with the help of the local Investigative Committee.

READ MORE: Russia seeks Canada’s aid in probing 95-yo Nazi death squad member over mass murder of vulnerable children

Speaking to Russian weekly newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, Segodin explained that most of the bones are in poor condition, making it difficult to establish the gender of the remains. According to Segodin, there was also a nearby camp for women and children.

“The only thing we can say for sure is that almost all the dead people were young,” he said.

RT

 

Elon Musk heaps praise on Soviet space program at Moscow educational conference & reveals his admiration for Russian pioneers
worker | May 25, 2021 | 7:10 pm | USSR | No comments

Elon Musk heaps praise on Soviet space program at Moscow educational conference & reveals his admiration for Russian pioneers

https://www.rt.com/russia/524421-musk-praises-tsiolkovsky-new-knowledge-event/

Elon Musk heaps praise on Soviet space program at Moscow educational conference & reveals his admiration for Russian pioneers
South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk has revealed his admiration for the USSR’s space program and its achievements, telling Russian students he had named some of his company’s conference rooms after Soviet engineers.

Speaking to the New Knowledge event via video link on Friday, the creator of SpaceX noted his reverence for Sergey Korolev and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, two influential 20th-century pioneers.

“[Tsiolkovsky] was amazing. He was truly one of the greatest,” the entrepreneur said. “At SpaceX, we name our conference rooms after the great engineers and scientists of space, and one of our biggest conference rooms is named after Tsiolkovsky. And [another after] Korolev.”

ALSO ON RT.COMRoscosmos names Russian cosmonaut expected to fly to ISS aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon shipMusk also had kind words to say about the Soviet space program as a whole, noting that he admired the achievements of the USSR in the field of rocket science.

The SpaceX creator has long had an interest in Russia, and has previously shown reverence for its accomplishments in the cosmos. Last year, a tweet to the head of Moscow’s space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, went viral after Musk replied in Russian. “We hope for mutually beneficial and prosperous long-term cooperation,” the tech billionaire wrote.

The Twitter post came after Musk’s successful SpaceX launch, when his company sent the Crew Dragon capsule on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). It marked the first time since 2011 that NASA had sent its astronauts into space on a US-made spacecraft.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov would become the first Russian to fly to the ISS in a SpaceX craft.

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Victory’s Test of Time
worker | May 9, 2021 | 8:28 pm | struggle against fascism, Struggle for Peace, struggle for socialism, USSR | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202105081082833275-victorys-test-of-time/

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The Russian people have every right to proudly proclaim victory over Nazi Germany and fascism in Europe. Every year, celebrations of Victory Day remain as vibrant as ever. And for good reason.

This weekend marks the 76th anniversary of the Nazi defeat on May 9, 1945. Victory parades are held all across Russia with the most splendid display of honor in Moscow’s Red Square.

What is rather telling is how commemorations in the United States and Britain have become relatively dimmed over time. Every year there seems to be less importance given to the anniversary. Why is that? In Western news media, there are even reminder articles about the history of Victory Day and why events are held to mark the occasion.

The contrast with the vibrant and dedicated celebrations in Russia is down to one main fact: it was the Russian people and the Soviet Red Army that were the main victors over the Nazi regime. It is crucial to reiterate that and to never lose sight of the historical truth because Western politicians and media would have us believe otherwise.

The Soviet Union’s allies during World War II, the US and Britain, played a role in defeating Nazi Germany, but that role was secondary in the achievement. Put in another way: essentially, the defeat of the Third Reich would not have happened without the Red Army hammering the eastern front all the way to Hitler’s Berlin bunker. Whereas the Western allies were more auxiliary in the victory.

It was the Hammer and Sickle that flew over the smoldering Reich Chancellery not the Stars and Stripes nor the Union Jack.

The Banner of Victory on the Reichstag building in Berlin, May 1, 1945.
© SPUTNIK / VLADIMIR GREBNEV
The Banner of Victory on the Reichstag building in Berlin, May 1, 1945.

In short, it was the Soviet people who liberated Europe from Nazi tyranny and fascism. It was the Soviet people who largely brought an end to the infernal death camps.

  • Soviet tank crew during Victory Day Parade on Red Square.
  • Soviet and Polish Armia Krajowa soldiers in Vilnius, July 1944.
  • Soviet soldiers liberating Auschwitz
  • US soldiers congratulating Soviet officers with the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
  • Czestochowa (Poland) residents meet Soviet soldiers. January 1945. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945
1 / 7
© SPUTNIK / RIA NOVOSTI
Soviet tank crew during Victory Day Parade on Red Square.

 

In spite of that glorious fact, the American and British political establishments have the arrogant audacity to claim that they were the liberating heroes. Based on this distortion of history, these Western powers claim a false moral authority. 

We saw this arrogance displayed this week in London at the so-called G7 summit. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British counterpart Dominic Raab declared that their countries had established the rules-based international order that followed WWII. As always, the Americans and British imply that they are the moral superiors, which is derived from their false belief or delusion about their role in defeating Nazi Germany.

Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945 marking the defeat of Nazi Germany during WWII (1939-1945)
© SPUTNIK / EVGENY HALDEI
Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945 marking the defeat of Nazi Germany during WWII (1939-1945)

What is even more reprehensible, the US and Britain use this historical fraud to disparage and demonize Russia. They accuse Russia of “aggression” and other malign conduct when in fact no other two countries have waged as many wars and killed as many people in the 76 years following WWII.

Indeed, it can be argued that the American and British-led NATO military alliance is posing an existential threat to Russia by encircling its borders with increasing forces. Ironically, the last time such a threat was manifest was when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

There are other reasons why Russia’s commemorations of Victory Day are far more important to its people than in the West. The war destroyed the lives of many more Russians – nearly 27 million – and therefore the memory of families and the sacrifices of their loved ones is that much stronger. Each year, there are fewer and fewer war veterans alive to commemorate the anniversary, but in Russia, millions of families carry on the memory with heartfelt devotion. The incomparable suffering of the Russian people is testimony to the fact that they bore the burden of defeating Nazi Germany and liberating Europe from fascism.

The test of time shows clearly who were the primary victors in the worst war that the world has ever seen.

The leaders of nations that claim otherwise are imposters and frauds. Their dimming victory parades over time evince their hijacking of history and the hollowness of their presumed role of “liberators” and champions of “international order” and “virtuous values”. Most damningly, these same people are capable of starting another world war from their arrogant delusions of superiority over Russia.

Which raises disturbing questions about the history of postwar fascism.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Victory day belongs to the Russian people: Westerners must realize it celebrates destroying the Nazis, not honoring Stalin’s USSR
worker | May 9, 2021 | 8:26 pm | Russia, USSR | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/523304-victory-day-stalin-crimes/

Victory day belongs to the Russian people: Westerners must realize it celebrates destroying the Nazis, not honoring Stalin’s USSR

Victory day belongs to the Russian people: Westerners must realize it celebrates destroying the Nazis, not honoring Stalin’s USSR
With tanks rolling through Red Square and jets screaming overhead, Russians are marking Victory Day on Sunday with a colossal parade, 76 years on from the surrender of the Third Reich and the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops.

These celebrations are often portrayed in the West as an effort to rehabilitate the USSR and its wartime leader, Joseph Stalin. In reality though, Moscow is far from eager to rewrite history, and most Russians are more than capable of commemorating the Soviet victory without endorsing Stalinism.

However, as preparations for the anniversary got underway, the Georgian strongman has again been making news. Just a week ago, in the Caucasian town of Dagestanskiye Ogni, a bust in honor of Stalin was erected. Unlike much of his legacy, it was short lived, and local authorities ordered its removal only four days after it was unveiled.

At the same time, the revolutionary’s record has been making waves in other ways. In the eyes of most Russians, the USSR deserves credit for liberating Europe from Nazism. Many people living in other former Eastern Bloc states, however, take a different view on things, and see the Soviets as occupiers. In their opinion, communism and Nazism are reprehensible in equal measure.

ALSO ON RT.COM27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives fighting the Nazis, Westerners comparing USSR to Hitler’s Germany insult their memoryThat historical debate has decidedly political consequences. Attempts to portray the Red Army not as a liberating force but as a brutal occupier serve as a means of pushing modern Russia out of European politics. Russian celebrations of the victory over Germany are portrayed as an endorsement of Stalinist oppression, and therefore as a sign of Russia’s malign character and its supposed ambitions to reassert Moscow’s control from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

In response to this growing campaign, the Russian State Duma began considering legislation last week which, if passed, will forbid people living in the country from comparing the USSR to Nazi Germany. This follows an amendment to the constitution last year stating that, “diminishing of the significance of the people’s achievement in defending the Fatherland is not permitted. Any pronouncement which smears the achievement of our citizens is unconstitutional.”

To opponents of the Kremlin, such acts are proof that the Russian state refuses to accept the crimes committed by the Soviet Union during WWII, such as the massacre of Polish officers at Katyn. This in turn is taken as evidence that Moscow has still not turned its back on Stalinism and its bloody methods.

Add to this the occasional efforts of modern-day Russian communists to put up statues to Stalin, and the result is an accusation that the country is working to legitimize its own government by invoking the memory of the USSR’s most famous leader.

ALSO ON RT.COMRussia celebrates WWII Victory Day with traditional grand military parade in Moscow (FULL VIDEO)For instance, when communists in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk erected a monument to the former Soviet premier in 2019, the Western press responded with a series of articles claiming that the state itself was attempting to “rehabilitate” Stalin. The Washington Post, for instance, published an article claiming that President Vladimir Putin “attempts to position himself” as “Stalin-lite… the Russian president is actively rehabilitating the Soviet dictator’s record, working to paint him as a strong leader who save the world from fascism. The goal is to bolster Putin’s own ‘strongman’ leadership style [sic] in the eyes of ordinary Russians.”

In a similar article, the Guardian declared that “Putin’s rise to power came accompanied by a new version of patriotism relying on ‘heroic’ and ‘bright’ aspects of the Soviet past. An image of Stalin as a strong leader who had ensured victory in the second world war and led a Soviet superpower re-emerged.”

It concluded that, “in Russia, it is obvious to many of us that our country’s return to democracy will be impossible as long as we fail to condemn Stalin and the system he created.”

The reality is rather different. While there is some admiration for the Georgian revolutionary in Russia on account of his wartime leadership, people are also acutely conscious of the negative aspects of his rule. Furthermore, initiatives to “rehabilitate” Stalin come not from the state, but from ordinary citizens, and Moscow’s response has been far from warm.

ALSO ON RT.COMUkrainian Neo-Nazis parade through Odessa on seventh anniversary of post-Maidan massacre in which dozens were burned aliveWe can see this in recent efforts of groups to erect statues to the former leader. In Novosibirsk, communists were unable to obtain permission to erect a statue of Stalin in a public place. In the end, the mayor gave permission only on the condition that it be put up on private land. In Dagestan, as we have already seen, the local government took a new installation down after just four days. Clearly, the authorities do not view such initiatives very positively.

Nor do those same officials attempt to play down the negative side of Stalin’s rule. The “Concept of State Policy on the Immortalization of the Memory of Victims,” confirmed by the Russian government in August 2015, stipulated that, “attempts to justify the repressions by the particular circumstances of the time or generally to deny them as a fact of our history are not permissible.”

In July 2019, the Permanent Commission on Historical Memory of the Council of the President of the Russian Federation issued a statement saying that its members did not “call for the establishment of statues to Stalin on private plots of land to be banned.” However, it noted, “civil servants of all levels must know that it is impermissible to allow state or municipal land or buildings to be used for this purpose. Such acts not only contradict morality and respect for our deceased, innocently suffering predecessors, but also contradict official state policy.”

As for Putin himself, he made his position clear when he attended the opening in October 2017 of the ‘Wall of Grief’, a monument in Moscow dedicated to the victims of communist repression. This is not even the only state-backed monument to this purpose. Others include the Sretensky Monastery, devoted to the ‘new martyrs’ (i.e. Christians killed by the communists), and the Butovo Shooting Range Memorial, located on the site of what was an NKVD execution ground during Stalin’s Great Terror.

ALSO ON RT.COMAdvanced 4th-gen nuclear-powered submarine Kazan joins Russia’s Navy Northern Fleet (VIDEO)In short, the idea that the Russian state is working to rehabilitate Stalin is far from true. Equally false is the idea that commemorating the Soviet victory in WWII is tantamount to celebrating communist repression. By the same token, when Britons celebrate their country’s role in that war, they’re not condoning the crimes of the British Empire. And when they praise Winston Churchill for his wartime leadership, they’re equally not endorsing the more questionable aspects of his personal character and past.

Similarly, Russians are capable of separating the good from the bad in their shared history. Victory over fascism in 1945 came at enormous cost, but was also a huge national achievement. Millions of Russians will choose to mark the anniversary this Sunday, and so they should. Victory Day is theirs, not Stalin’s.

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76 years on from historic Elbe meeting, Moscow says Russia & US should come together to fight against modern rewriting of history
worker | April 26, 2021 | 8:10 pm | Red Army, Russia, USSR | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/522144-history-rewriting-nazi-victory/

76 years on from historic Elbe meeting, Moscow says Russia & US should come together to fight against modern rewriting of history

76 years on from historic Elbe meeting, Moscow says Russia & US should come together to fight against modern rewriting of history
Russian and American soldiers fought to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II, and it is now the duty of both nations to stop unfair readings of history. That’s according to Sergey Koshelev, Russia’s Charge d’Affaires in Washington.

On Sunday, at a ceremony in the US capital commemorating the 76th anniversary of Elbe Day, Koshelev spoke about the alliance of the US and the Soviet Union during the conflict. On April 25, 1945, after fighting the Germans from both East and West, troops from the Red Army met with their American counterparts at the River Elbe, in Saxony. The encounter meant the war in Europe was effectively over, and Adolf Hitler committed suicide five days later.

“We will always pay tribute to the courage of our comrades in arms, honor all those who sacrificed their lives in the fight against the worst evil of the 20th century. We consider any attempts to rewrite history a betrayal,” Koshelev said, as cited by news agency TASS, noting that it is a “common duty” to prevent “unfair readings” of the lessons of World War II.

ALSO ON RT.COMMoscow promises Washington a ‘SERIOUS TALK’ about its V-Day message that omits Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazis“Our countries need to preserve the spirit of the Elbe. The memory of our alliance should help us build a partnership in the fight against the common challenges and threats of the 21st century,” he explained.

One of the ceremony’s participants, American veteran Frank Cohn, told the TASS news agency that he completely supports Koshelev’s position.

“I hope it isn’t rewritten,” he explained. “We met on the Elbe and shook hands. Moreover, we embraced. They tried to buy me some vodka, but I was 19 years old, and I had never tasted vodka.”

Both Moscow and Washington have been accused of revisionism of World War II history in recent years. The most recent serious accusation came last year, when a tweet from the White House claimed that “America and Great Britain had victory over the Nazis,” deliberately omitting the Soviet Union.

The tweet was roundly criticized, and led to the Russian Foreign Ministry promising a “serious talk” with American officials on the “distortion” of history.

“The US officials have found neither the courage nor the desire to … do justice to the indisputable role of the Red Army and of the Soviet people, and to the enormous sacrifices they made in the name of humanity,” its statement said.

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Unlearned History Lessons
worker | April 25, 2021 | 9:00 pm | struggle against nuclear war, Struggle for Peace, USSR | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202104231082704184-unlearned-history-lessons/

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“Avoiding a clash with great powers does not indicate cowardice, but wisdom, because sacrificing oneself is never an advantage anywhere”. Preface to “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu by N. Konrad

In recent years, relations between Russia and the US have shifted from competitiveness to confrontation, effectively going back to the Cold War era. The sanctions pressure, threats, conflict behaviour and defence of selfish interests are plunging the world into a state of permanent instability.

If relations between the two countries have been in the situation described above for a long time, it is called a crisis. Such crises provide a fertile ground for even more acute periods in the relationship – a “crisis of all crises”. Under such circumstances, any faux pas, any lack of patience, and any strategic understanding of the “weight” of each word could plunge not just two countries, but the entire world, into an abyss of the gravest challenges, threatening it with a direct military clash.

This has happened before in our common history. The time was a little different than now, and the scene was in the Caribbean, but the spirit of what was going on was very similar.

US foreign policy at the time forced our country to respond accordingly. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, it manifested itself in the deployment of American missiles in Turkey, in South Vietnam, and in Lebanon. And, as well, in the failed policies toward Cuba that sparked the revolution and then again, in an attempt to regain control of the Island of Freedom. And, in many other things.

Today, it has manifested itself in anti-Russian sanctions, an orchestrated harassment campaign against Russia, US policy towards our neighbouring countries, NATO’s final approach to our borders, opposition to Nord Stream 2, concerns about our country’s development of the Northern Sea Route, and finally the Ukrainian crisis. We see examples of such policies on a daily basis.

The Russia of today, as with the Soviet Union of the past, has always been in a catch-up position with the United States on the level of threats to its counterpart.

CIA reference photograph of Soviet medium-range ballistic missile (SS-4 in U.S. documents, R-12 in Soviet documents) in Red Square, Moscow. The weapon was deployed to Cuba in October 1962, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis.
© CC0 / CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
CIA reference photograph of Soviet medium-range ballistic missile (SS-4 in U.S. documents, R-12 in Soviet documents) in Red Square, Moscow. The weapon was deployed to Cuba in October 1962, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union responded to the Americans by deploying strategic offensive weapons to Cuba. The United States, as we know, had taken a further confrontational step by bringing in warships, imposing a naval blockade on the island and even preparing for a full-scale invasion. That became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There are two key points in its framework.

  • The first, a long-term response, involved more than just the deployment of missiles off the coast of the United States. Above all, it was a demonstration and, more importantly, a realisation by Western countries of our state’s infrastructural capabilities to deploy military bases anywhere in the world at short notice.
  • The second, a situation, just “five minutes from war”, was saved by the leaders of the two superpowers retaining a sober assessment of the standoff, who recognised and accepted the “wisdom” of compromise and hence were prepared to make concessions.

At some points, the leaders communicated directly, at others – they did not, but in any case, there was dialogue between the Soviet Union and the US on an equal footing, pursued not through the language of threats and ultimatums.

After the resolution of the 20th century Cuban Missile Crisis, there has never been a situation since where the two countries were this close to war. Because both had learned the lesson that cooperation in solving international problems was better than confrontation.

But today the situation is somewhat different: the US has slid into an unstable foreign policy. This manifested itself in the rejection of the Iran nuclear deal. And in the US withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty and several other international treaties. And, at this moment, in the rhetoric of the new US president.

The new strategic reality – the instability of Washington’s foreign policy – is largely caused by domestic reasons but also by a certain decline in the credibility of the US as the leader of the Western world.

Police release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
© REUTERS / SHANNON STAPLETON
Police release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.

A new tactic of the American administration is to signal the need for dialogue, on the one hand, and increase pressure with the other. It can speak both of the fulfillment of the Democrats’ campaign promises and a lack of unity in policymaking and decision-making in the new team, and of an American “holy mission”. “We are always right, you must listen to us”. Both partners and opponents ought to take this course for granted, with a sense of gratitude for the “lesson” learned.

We heard the call for dialogue during a telephone conversation between the two presidents. And then tough rhetoric kicked in, new anti-Russian sanctions were imposed, diplomats were expelled, and an executive order on the ‘Russian threat’ was signed. This should also include the artificially-fueled conflict in eastern Ukraine, militaristic statements by the US leadership, and the redeployment of military equipment to our region. To put it simply, the situation is escalating.

It was clear that the United States perceived the Soviet Union as an equal opponent, which should undoubtedly be reckoned with. This was because the parties had military-political parity, and the system of international organisations was set up to preserve this balance. Two military blocs – NATO and the Warsaw Pact – accounted for this, too.

But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this parity was lost for a while. The US, having lived for one and a half decades in a coordinate system where no other country in the world not only had no comparable power to it, but not even the hypothetical right to have such power, had simply become unaccustomed to equitable dialogue.

The new US administration, re-establishing its position as the world leader and protector of the Collective West (while in parallel persuading itself of this), does not have the fortitude to recognise that someone in the world may have infrastructural capabilities and military-political capacity comparable to them. For example, China or Russia.

The question on the agenda is whether the current US administration will find the “wisdom of compromise” that the leaders of the Caribbean crisis of the 1960s reached?

And what can help to defuse problems when the situation is heated to the breaking point?

There are three such points.

  • First, an understanding of the price of a “fatal decision”. If the damage from winning is so extensive that it raises doubts about the continued existence of the winner, then it is not a victory.
  • Second, direct communication. It is not just a phone you can use, but an opportunity to speak frankly and, more importantly, to hear your counterpart. And to understand their logic and arguments.
  • And third, which is most important. Not only an understanding of the necessity and possibility of compromises but also a willingness to make these compromises. A willingness to reject the language of ultimatums and disgraceful behaviour that drives the dialogue down below ground level.

This is why rhetoric boiled down to the crude phrase “Russia will pay the price”, while sounding very American, leads straight to a dead end. There is no way out of this tunnel. This mantra will offers no enlightenment to anyone.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Gagarin’s history-making flight, 60 years on: How a bizarre Russian dream to resurrect the dead led to a Cold War victory in space
worker | April 12, 2021 | 8:38 pm | USSR | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/520774-gagarin-cold-war-victory-space/

Gagarin’s history-making flight, 60 years on: How a bizarre Russian dream to resurrect the dead led to a Cold War victory in space

Gagarin’s history-making flight, 60 years on: How a bizarre Russian dream to resurrect the dead led to a Cold War victory in space
“Poekhali,” or “Let’s go.” With those words, Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan 60 years ago today. His historic flight stunned the world and turned the smiling Russian into a superstar.

Gagarin’s rocket, Vostok 1, carried him into orbit, after which he circled the Earth for 108 minutes before returning to the ground. With this, Gagarin became the first human to successfully travel into space.

The Soviet space program had strange origins. In the dying years of the old Russian empire, an eccentric librarian in Moscow dreamt up the idea that humanity’s “common task” was to resurrect the dead. Humanity would have to scour the universe to find the dust into which our ancestors had dissolved, and then colonize other planets to provide room for their newly revived bodies.

Few people read the work of Nikolai Fyodorov, but one who fell under his spell was a student named Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who studied at the library where Fyodorov worked. Tsiolkovsky went on to become the pioneer of modern space travel, being the first person to develop the theoretical mechanics of rocketry and spacecraft. His work influenced future space engineers, including the German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and Soviet space program chief Sergei Korolev.

ALSO ON RT.COMFrom wood cabin to orbiting Earth: How Yuri Gagarin’s improbable journey into space defined a decade, but nearly ended in disasterIn the eyes of Fyodorov and Tsiolkovsky, space travel was a tool for the common cause of humanity. After 1945, however, the Cold War turned it into a facet of the global struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States. Both countries sought to achieve technological ‘firsts’ that would demonstrate the superiority of their respective economic systems – communism and capitalism. Gagarin’s flight was a phenomenal propaganda victory for the Soviet Union.

In the early 1960s, communism’s economic failings were not yet clear to everybody. Under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union enjoyed an economic boom, encouraging the belief that it could eventually catch up and even pass the United States. Images abounded of ‘red plenty’ resulting from the application of scientific knowledge and rational economic planning. Meanwhile, Western states were in constant retreat; great colonial powers rapidly abandoned their empires, and Western countries suffered a series of humiliating defeats, such as those of both France and the United States in Vietnam.

Gagarin’s flight symbolized America’s vulnerability in the face of a future that seemed to belong to communism. It induced something like a sense of panic in the United States. As Newsweek wrote“Time and space are running out for the United States. The first man into orbit was a Russian. And next? A rocket to Mars? The Russians won’t pass up the chance when the firing conditions are right. The first man on the moon? Most likely, he’ll carry the hammer and sickle.”

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Beyond’: UK author presents ‘exciting’ new book on Yuri Gagarin at Russian embassy in London, 60yrs since 1st manned space flightNewsweek got it wrong. Gagarin spurred the US into action, with the result that in 1969, an American, Neil Armstrong, became the first man to step on the moon. Nevertheless, Gagarin represents a moment in time when the bubble of American superiority was temporarily burst. It also remains a symbol of national pride for citizens of Russia.

Gagarin’s achievement did not come out of nowhere. The Soviet Union invested huge sums of money into science, going so far as to create specialized scientific towns where the intellectual elites of the country could devote themselves to pure and applied research. Science, it was believed, was the key to the future.

Unfortunately for the Soviets, “the invisible hand of the market” proved to be a stronger force, and when the Soviet Union collapsed, funding for science in Russia dried up. A 2010 report by Thomson Reuters noted “the total neglect of fundamental science by the post-Soviet governments in Russia, especially from 1992 to 2002.”  Since then, the situation has improved somewhat, but the neglect of the 1990s has left its mark. In 2018, Russians published 81,579 scientific and technical journal articles in fields such as physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics. This compares with 528,263 published in China, and 422,808 in the United States. Clearly, Russia is well behind.

That said, it is far from being a scientific minnow. Its 81,579 articles put it in seventh place in the world, after China, America, India, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. When the dust settled after the collapse of the Soviet Union, something remained of the old scientific infrastructure. Russia retains some world-class areas of specialization. These include nuclear physics, aviation, and military technology. Russia’s success in rapidly producing three vaccines for the Covid-19 virus is a sign that the country retains considerable scientific-technological potential.

ALSO ON RT.COMPoekhali! Russian spaceship named after Yuri Gagarin blasts off almost sixty years after Soviet cosmonaut’s record-smashing flightAnother field of expertise is space. A week ago, the Russian government approved an extension until December 2030 of its agreement with the United States on space cooperation, and on Friday a joint Russian-American crew launched successfully from Baikonur and joined the International Space Station. Meanwhile, in March, Russia and China agreed to work together to build a joint lunar base.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos declared that the lunar outpost would provide an opportunity for “the use of outer space for peaceful purposes in the interests of all mankind.” Once an area of competition, it would appear that space is now a sphere of international cooperation. In this sense, it is perhaps at last meeting the dream of humanity pursuing a “common task,” rather than being a source of rivalry, as it was 60 years ago when Yuri Gagarin undertook his heroic journey into orbit and opened a new era in human history.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.