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Russian awards presented to British veterans of Arctic convoys

Russia's Ushakov Medals were awarded on Thursday to British veterans of the Arctic convoys which delivered allied aid to the Soviet Union during World War II.

The award ceremony took place at the Russian Embassy in London and began with the playing of the national anthems of the two countries. The veterans, most of them well over 80, stood up. Then Minister Counsellor Alexander Kramarenko made a speech and thanked the veterans for their heroic exploits during the war.

"Many thousands of sailors died when British ships were voyaging through the stormy waters of the Arctic Ocean under the constant threat of attacks from the German Navy and aviation. Your heroism will always be remembered in Russia and Great Britain," he said.

"During the Second World War the Soviet Union and Great Britain were fighting shoulder to shoulder against Nazi Germany. Their brotherhood in arms will forever remain an important part of the European spiritual heritage and ties between our two countries," the diplomat said.

Present were close relatives of the war veterans, diplomats and members of the media. The veterans were wearing combat awards, including the Arctic Star medals established in Britain recently to recognise the service of personnel in the Arctic convoys.

In 1941-1945, British warships led 48 convoys across the Barents Sea to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, delivering four million tonnes of cargoes, including over 5,000 tanks and 7,000 planes. The Germans sank 87 merchant ships and 18 British Navy ships, killing 3,000 sailors.

[Source: Itar Tass, London, 07Aug14]

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