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German FM Marks WWII Anniversary At Site Of Stalingrad Battle

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) greets his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier just outside Volgograd on May 7.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has laid a wreath at the site of the Battle of Stalingrad as part of commemorations to mark 70 years since the defeat of Nazi forces in World War II.

Steinmeier, alongside his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, paid his respects on May 7 at a military cemetery near the Russian city of Volgograd -- the modern name of Stalingrad -- before signing a book of remembrance at the city's memorial complex.

The event came as Moscow gears up for a massive military parade on May 9 to celebrate victory in World War II that has been snubbed by Western leaders due to tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

The five months of fighting for Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest battles in World War II and the eventual Soviet victory there marked a key turning point in the conflict.

Well over a million people are believed to have died in the bloodshed at Stalingrad as Soviet forces halted and then turned the tide on the invading Nazi forces.

"The suffering that the Nazi German forces inflicted on the population and soldiers here in Volgograd -- formerly Stalingrad -- was completely incomprehensible," Steinmeier said.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa