"The world of today faces an unprecedented range of dangerous threats. No one will benefit if a long-term confrontation between different countries or groups of countries is added to that list. We simply have to join forces in combating such evil as terrorism, which truly challenges our civilization," Antonov said on Thursday. "Development of international military cooperation is required more than ever. Our common goal should be developing an equal and indivisible security for all. A system that can adequately respond to modern crises and built on non-bloc basis."
"I would like to stress that Russia is a peaceful country, it neither poses a threat to anyone, nor does it act from the position of force," Antonov added. "Fighting capabilities of our Army are not only a guarantee of national security and peaceful development of our country, but they also serve as an important factor of global stability. This idea was emphasized by President Vladimir Putin on many occasions."
The Defender of the Fatherland Day, previously known as the Soviet Army and Navy Day, was introduced in 1922 and commemorates establishment of the Red Army in 1918. The Soviet Union tended to regard the date February 23, 1918, as a day of the first Soviet victory over the German troops near Pskov and Narva, however, further researches revealed that no major clashes took place then.
"This year marks an anniversary of our Armed Forces," Antonov said. "The history of our country is full of examples of sacrifices of its protectors, who were able not only to defend their own country, but also repeatedly saved the world from conquerors. We have just celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. This heroic victory was achieved by Soviet soldiers at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and was the turning point in the entire Second World War."
The Russian Armed Forces honorably carry on military traditions of previous generations, the Ambassador added, including the fight against the Islamic State (Daesh) terrorist group.
The Defender of the Fatherland Day is primarily a day to honor war veterans and those who serve in the military, but over the years "the defender" has come to stand for more than a soldier and the holiday is now also widely considered to be a men's day in Russia. Usually, women give small presents to their male relatives, friends, husbands and co-workers.