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Russia's Lavrov Visits Lend-Lease Monument In Alaska

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during the plenary session of the Arctic Council meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, on May 11.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during a trip to Alaska, has visited a monument to a crucial World War II program under which the United States aided the Soviet Union and other Allies.

Lavrov laid a wreath at the Lend-Lease Monument in the Alaskan capital, Fairbanks, on May 11. He was followed by Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak.

They were in the U.S. state for a meeting of the Arctic Council that was also attended by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Amid ties that remain badly strained, Lavrov met with Tillerson and President Donald Trump in Washington a day earlier.

The United States sent millions of dollars' worth of aid and weapons, including warplanes, to the Soviet Union and other allies during the war through the Lend-Lease program. Soviet pilots flew the planes to Siberia from an airfield in Fairbanks.

"Being here and not to visit this memorial would have been a shame," Lavrov said in English. "We highly appreciate the way the Alaskans keep the memory of our fight against fascism during World War II alive."

The visit came two days after Russia held massive annual Victory Day celebrations marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945.

In his address to a military parade on Red Square, Putin said that it was Soviet soldiers who "prevailed to bring freedom to Europe and long-awaited peace on the planet," and made no specific mention of the U.S. contribution.

Based on reporting by Alaska Dispatch News and Interfax