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Russia marks Fatherland Defense Day, anniversary of Varyag & Koreets

Ambassador and Mrs. Konstantin Vnukov of the Russian Federation in Seoul hosted a reception at the Millennium Seoul Hilton on Feb. 20, 2014 to celebrate the Armed Forces Day of their country.
Many Korean and international guests attended the reception, including ambassadors, as well as defense attaches from various embassies in Seoul and the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of Korea.

Ambassador Konstantin V. Vnukov of Russia (left) drinks a wine after a toast with Defense Attache colonel Andrey Falileev and Rear Admiral Lee Beom Rim, the Director of Foreign Intelligence at Korea Defense Intelligence Agency.

Among the guests in attendance from the Korean side were Rear Admiral Lee Bum-Rim (director of the Foreign Intelligence Division of the Korea Defense Intelligence Agency of the MND), Brig. Gen. Park Jeen-Soo also from the MND, President Sohn Kyung-shik of the Korean-Russian Friendship Association and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.

From the Seoul Diplomatic Corps came many senior diplomats who included Ambassadors Uri Gutman of Israel and Peter Tan of Singapore as well as defenses attaches among whom were Brig. Gens. Angel Gonzales Castillo of Mexico, Myint Hein of Myanmar and Andrew Michael Cliffev of the United Kingdom. Speaking to the guests in a welcome speech, Ambassador Vnukov said:

“I am glad to welcome you all at our traditional reception on the occasion of the Russian Fatherland Defender’s Day. This year we made a special decision to combine this date with a great and glorious anniversary in the history of the Russian armed forces--110th anniversary of the heroic feat of the crews of the Russian naval cruiser “Varyag” and gunboat “Koreets”, who on February, 9, 1904, accepted the unequal battle against the Japanese squadron in the bay of Jemulpo (now Incheon Metropolitan City) but never surrendered. We are grateful to the authorities of the city of Incheon, and in particular to H.E. Mayor Mr. Song Young-gil and to Honorary Consul Mr. Jung-Heon, for preserving the memory of this feat, creating the necessary facilities at the Square of St. Petersburgh and at the memorial complex.” (See further details toward the end of this Article.)

Ambassador Vnukov’s welcome speech was responded to by a congratulatory speech by Rear Admiral Lee Bum-Rim of the MND Defense Intelligence Agency. He said in part:
“The Republic of Korea and Russia established ties in 1990 and have been developing a broad spectrum of substantial cooperation across politics, economics and culture by overcoming the 85 years of severance. In addition, President Putin’s visit last November served as a momentum to further develop the “strategic cooperative partnership“ between Korea and Russia.

From right, Ambassador Konstantin V. VNUKOV of Russia, Defense Attache colonel Andrey Falileev and Rear Admiral Lee Beom Rim (director of Foreign Intelligence Division of the Korea Defense Intelligence Agency.

Our two nations have now laid grounds as key partners for settlement of peace on the Peninsula including the resolution of north Korean nuclear problem, based on the mutual interest of world peace and prosperity.” (See further details at the end of this Article.)
There also were music and dance performances presented by the Korean Armed Forces Choir and a music and dance troupe of Russia.

Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Vnukov:
I am glad to welcome you all at our traditional reception on the occasion of the Russian Fatherland Defender’s Day. This year we made a special decision to combine this date with a great and glorious anniversary in the history of the Russian armed forces 110th anniversary of the heroic feat of the crews of the Russian naval cruiser “Varyag” and gunboat “Koreets”, who on February, 9, 1904, accepted the unequal battle against the Japanese squadron in the bay of Jemulpo (now Incheon Metropolitan City) but never surrendered. We are grateful to the authorities of the city of Incheon, and in particular to H.E. Mayor Mr. Song Young-gil and to Honorary Consul Mr. Jung-Heon, for preserving the memory of this feat, creating the necessary facilities at the Square of St. Petersburgh and at the memorial complex.

The glorious battle traditions are well kept by the new generation. I don’t only mean the flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet the modern guided missile cruiser “Varyag”, but the armed forces of Russia as a whole.

From left, Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, Defense Attache Brig. Gen. Guzmar Angel Gonzalez Castillo of Mexico, Air Attache Col. Philip Yu of the US and the defense attache of China.

Thanks to the great attention that the President of the Russian Federation and the Government pay to the improvement of the defense capability of our country, our armed forces are successfully undergoing the important stage of modernization and technical upgrade, to be able to meet all the new challenges and threats of the present.

Being the Ambassador to Seoul, I am greatly satisfied with the results of the positive and comprehensive development of the relations of partnership between Russia and the Republic of Korea, and the cooperation between the ministries of defense of the two countries is an important component of them. I am sure that in the new year we shall achieve the new impressive results by mutual effort.

I would like to suggest a toast to the armed forces of the Russian Federation and to the all-round development of the relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea and ties in the sphere of defense, to the friendship and cooperation of the people of our two countries!

Congratulatory speech by Rear Admiral Lee Beom Rim:
First, on behalf of our Ministry of National Defense, I would like to extend congratulations on the 96th Russian Armed Forces Day and the 110th year marking the heroic battle of the Varyag, and my appreciation goes to the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Dr. Konstantin Vnukov and the Defense Attache, Colonel Andrey Falileev for inviting me to the occasion.

The Republic of Korea and Russia established ties in 1990 and have been developing a broad spectrum of substantial cooperation across politics, economics and culture by overcoming the 85 years of severance. In addition, President Putin’s visit last November served as a momentum to further develop the “strategic cooperative partnership” between Korea and Russia.

Korean and Russian music-dance troupes present performances

Our two nations have now laid grounds as key partners for settlement of peace on the Peninsula including the resolution of north Korean nuclear problem, based on the mutual interest of world peace and prosperity.

Various exchanges are actively ongoing between our defense ministries in the areas of personnel, military unit and academics in addition to the periodic conferences and this is all thanks
to the great efforts made by 4 military attaches headed by the defense attache, Colonel Falileev.

Russia is not only a nation with abundant natural resources such as crude oil and gas but also a powerhouse for science technology that launched the first manned spacecraft in the world. Russia is also a cultural powerhouse that gave birth to world famous authors and artists such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevskii and Tchaikovsky whom are also well known in Korea.

A couple of days ago during the opening ceremony for Sochi winter olympics, I was able to witness the 「Dreams about Russia」 successfully succeeding the cultural heritage and using it as leverage to leap into the future while Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” played in the background.

Spouses of the defense attaches and other lady guests pose for the camera.

Just like a Russian proverb that says ”good brotherhood is equal to treasure”, I hope today’s occasion can serve as an opportunity for the relationship between Russian-Korean defense ministries to be forged into a good brotherhood more magnificent than treasure.

Once again congratulations on the Russian Armed Forces day and the anniversary of the heroic battle of the Varyag. I wish eternal development for the Russian Federation and Armed Forces.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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