This nit-picking piece demonstrates the Strib's complete inability to cut the President a break. Yes, his remarks are inaccurate in the sense that the Russian steppes were the scene of the greatest land battles and yes, the Russian front was the primary focus of Nazi conquest. The Russian people made terrible sacrifices to resist and eventually defeat the invaders. Unfortunately, those sacrifices were made for leaders that did not merit them, and Putin is their direct political descendant. It is also in a sense true that for the countries occupied by the Soviet Union, the war did not really end until democracy triumphed just under 45 years after the first fall of Berlin, when a wall came tumbling down. A fact which Putin needs to be reminded of from time to time.
However, consider the President was speaking to a Dutch audience. If one confines the scope of the President's remarks to Western Europe, they are accurate. In addition, one of the main reasons the Russians were able to make a comeback was the food, fuel, and truck transport (and even some tanks) provided by the United States to the Soviet Union, at considerable cost counted in the lives of Allied naval and merchant sailors. All while fighting a second war in the Pacific and Asia.
In any case, the President was not denigrating the Russian people, as the Strib implies. He was praising the Western Allies, and there is nothing wrong with that.