On 21 June 2011, PM Vladimir Putin and French Premier François Fillon attended the opening ceremony of a memorial to the soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Corps, which fought on the Western Front assisting the French forces during World War I. The site of the memorial is in the Cours-la-Reine, a historic park on the right bank of the Seine (in the 8e Arrondissement, not far from Rue Daru, I believe that the closest Métro station is Alma-Marceau on Line 9: editor)… not far from the Grand Palais and the Pont Alexandre III, named after the tsar who instituted the Franco-Russian alliance.
Prime Ministers Putin and Fillon approved an agreement to create the monument in November 2009. France paid for the cost of landscaping the selected Paris site and the installation of the memorial, whilst the Russian side paid for the production and delivery of the memorial sculpture. People’s Artist of Russia Vladimir Surovtsyov won the international competition for the design of the memorial complex. This memorial is a tribute by both Russia and France to the soldiers of the Russian First Expeditionary Corps, thousands of whom fell on French soil in one of the bloodiest wars in human history. France hasn‘t forgotten that, and it still honours the Russian heroes who contributed to the Allied victory over Germany.
In 1916, when the first Russian infantry brigade marched down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Parisians greeted them with thunderous applause and a “rain” of flowers. An enthusiastic reception was accorded to the Russian corps when it landed in Marseille. The French were grateful to Russia for its offensive operations in 1914 in East Prussia, which even helped to stem the German drive on Paris. Germany had to pull forces out of France to blunt the Russian invasion. The Russian Expeditionary Corps played an important role on the Western Front. All the troops who fought in France were worthy of their treaty obligations. Not once did they flee before the onslaught of the enemy. On the contrary, they always were on the offensive, and always displayed the finest fighting qualities. Among the officers of the Corps was the famous Russian poet Nikolai Gumilyov.
21 June 2011. Voice of Russia World Service