Moreover, Hitler had in fact confirmed the continuation of that 1926 agreement by a note in May 1933. And as a result, Ikhlov says, “there was no need for a non-aggression pact [between Germany and the USSR] except for the conclusion of the secret protocols about the division of Europe” (emphasis supplied).
The Soviet government denied the existence of the secret protocols, as do many Russians to this day. But Ikhlov’s analytic note makes it clear not only that they existed but that they were the primary reason that the two dictators decided to conclude such an agreement when they did. And that in turn means something more.
It means that by making this deal with Hitler, Stalin was seeking to occupy much of Eastern Europe already before the war, a goal that he achieved only after defeating his former ally and taking even more than the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had given him.