Saturday, August 26, 2023

Putin has Far More Reason than His Predecessors to Want Russians to Forget Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, ‘RusMonitor’ Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 23 – Eighty-four years ago, the Soviet and Nazi regimes signedwhat became known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact whose public pledges of non-aggression opened the way for World War II and whose secret protocols allowed Stalin to occupy the Baltic countries as well as western Belarus and western Ukraine and portions of Moldova.

            Stalin and his Soviet successors tried to conceal the pact as such and especially its secret protocols. But after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the Russian authorities acknowledged that the pact was illegal and condemned it and its secret protocol (

            But with the rise of Vladimir Putin, things changed again. Putin initially denied its existence and then argued it was a forced measure who had no other option given Western betrayal at Munich. Throughout, the Kremlin leader insisted that what had happened was an ordinary act of diplomacy which had no relation at all to the start of World War II.

            According to the editors of RusMonitor, Putin wanted Russians to forget about the pact primarily because its existence undercut his “cult of ‘the great victory” in the war. He also has sought to justify his own “aggressive policies” toward Russia’s neighbors and to convince the world that Russia “has the right to spheres of influence.

            In addition, Putin wants to distract attention from domestic problems and has a long tradition of saying anything, including outright falsehoods and dishonest denials, that he believes will help him achieve his personal goals.

            One aspect of the situation that neither RusMonitor nor Putin talk much about is that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact played a key role in saving the Soviet state, not because it put Moscow’s western borders further west than they were than because of what happened in Tokyo when the Japanese learned of the pact.

            Then, the pro-war government of Japan which had agreed to attack the Soviet Union when Hitler did fell and was succeeded by one that chose to attack south and east instead, against China and the US. Had the earlier government not fallen and had Japan invaded Siberia when Hitler invaded the USSR, the result on the eastern front might have been very different indeed. 

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