OF course no-one should disrespect the appalling sacrifices, casualties and millions of deaths of the Soviet people (as opposed to the Soviet regime) in their “Great Patriotic War” from June 1941 to May 1945 (Letters, May 18 & 11).

But nor should we or modern-day Russians forget that many of those tragedies led directly from Stalin’s murders or incarceration of countless civilian and military leaders, and his other policies such as collectivisation and deliberate famine, in the 1930s; from his ignoring Churchill’s advice before June 1941 of Hitler’s plan to invade the USSR after the UK won the Battle of Britain in 1940; and from Beria’s NKVD thugs forcing the Soviet troops on from behind as they faced the German troops ahead.

Nor that the Second World War began when both Germany and the USSR jointly invaded and carved up Poland in September 1939, that for the next 21 months Stalin was Hitler’s ally (politically, industrially and militarily), that inter alia, German planes fighting us in the Battle of Britain were fuelled from the USSR; and that despite all that, Churchill immediately welcomed Stalin in 1941 as a vital ally in the greater immediate cause.

Nor should the Russians deny the importance of the Battle of Britain and the other theatres of the war against Germany – a recent survey revealed that about 65 per cent of Russians believe that they alone won the war, hardly surprising with Vladimir Putin’s rehabilitation campaign of Stalin (a Nazi in all but name and from the same mould as Hitler).

Finally, regarding Kursk and Stalingrad, Ian Mitchell (Letters, June 8) and modern-day Russians should accept as Marshall Zhukov did, that the USSR could never have even fought these epic battles let alone won them, without the massive shipments of vehicles, steel, explosives, foods and medicines from the United States, some of them via “the worst journey in the world” convoys from Scotland to Murmansk, from 1941 onwards. One could equally argue that the Battle of Britain was the “most important in human history”; certainly, all three Allies were “the real destroyers” of the German war machine, but sadly the “Nazi war machine” has continued in other countries.

John Birkett, St Andrews.