Britain honours Soviet military hero - 50 years late

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The Independent Online
George Robertson, the Secretary of State for Defence, flew to Moscow last night to seal agreements for closer defence co-operation with Russia, and - more than 50 years late - bestow a special British honour on one of the Soviet Union's greatest military heroes.

In a round of meetings today, Mr Robertson and top Russian officials, including his opposite number Igor Sergeyev and the Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, are expected to give the go-ahead for a new joint commission to handle defence initiatives between the two countries.

They will also clear the way for joint naval exercises between the Royal Navy and the Russian fleet designed to help them to work together on peace-keeping and humanitarian missions around the world.

The sentimental highpoint of his short visit, however, will be the presentation of an honorary knighthood to the widow of Ivan Konev, the Soviet marshal who defeated the Germans in the great 1943 tank battle of Kursk and shared in the capture of Berlin two years later. He was one of three Soviet commanders given an honorary knighthood by King George VI, but the award was never presented because the Cold War then turned allies into foes.

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