MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. A monument to the soldiers of Russia’s Expeditionary Force, which fought on the Western front during World War I, will emerge in the area of Aisne near Mount Spin in the spring, French historian Pierre Malinovsky told a news conference at TASS on Tuesday.
"The monument has been made in Russia already. Soon it will be delivered to France. Russia funded the bulk of the expenses. The French authorities donated 23,000 euros for the project. The monument is to be unveiled on April 19," Malinovsky told the media.
He recalled that Russian soldiers had helped France beat back a German offensive at the cost of their lives, but very little is known in France about this episode of World War I today.
"In just three days about five thousand soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Force died while fighting for our country. This monument will help restore historical justice and serve as a reminder about the role of the Russian army in the history of France. I believe that the role of the Expeditionary Force has special significance in the Russian history of World War I, too. The Russian Empire lost about 1.7 million lives in it," he said.
Malinovsky believes that memories of that page of history must be preserved in Russia. He expressed the readiness to hand over the remains of a Russian soldier, discovered during archaeological excavation work in the area where the Expeditionary Force had been fighting, to Russia for burial in a special ceremony.
"Russia has a memorial in honor of the Unknown Soldier of the Great Patriotic War, but there is no monument to the Unknown Soldier of the Great Patriotic War. During archeological excavation I found the remains of an Expeditionary Force soldier, but it was buried promptly, which made me very sorry. Together with students from Yekaterinburg I made a decision to go ahead with the search. Last summer we unearthed the remains of another soldier. I would be very glad to see his remains return to his home country after a hundred years," Malinovsky said.
In 1916, the Western front was reinforced by the units of the Russian Expeditionary Force. The decision was made by Emperor Nicholas II. Four infantry brigades having a total strength of 44,000 men were formed in the West. The third brigade under General Marushevsky which would be fighting for Cormicy had arrived in France from Arkhangelsk.
Russian infantrymen, according to witness accounts, displayed great courage to block the German divisions’ push towards the French capital. In the summer of 2011 Vladimir Putin and the then French Prime Minister Francois Fillon unveiled a monument to the soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Force on the right bank of River Seine.