Sunday

7th Jun 2020

Putin justifies Soviet-Nazi pact

  • Russian president Putin and German chancellor attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Moscow's Unknown soldier monument. (Photo: Russian presidency)

Russian president Vladimir Putin over the weekend celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany with a military parade on Red Square and a series of smaller events.

But while standing next to German chancellor Angela Merkel, he appeared to justify the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which the Soviet Union signed with the Nazi regime in 1939.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"This pact made sense in terms of guaranteeing the Soviet Union’s security," he said on Sunday (10 May).

Putin noted that Moscow, in the 1930s, had tried to stop Nazi Germany, but felt isolated after Germany, France, and the UK signed the 1938 Munich agreement allowing Hitler to annex parts of Czechoslovakia.

"The Soviet Union made tremendous efforts to put in place conditions for collective resistance to Nazism in Germany and made repeated attempts to create an anti-Nazi bloc in Europe," he said.

"All of these attempts failed. What’s more, after 1938, when the well-known agreement was concluded in Munich, conceding some regions of Czechoslovakia, some politicians thought that war was inevitable," he added.

"When the Soviet Union realised that it was left to face Hitler’s Germany on its own, it acted to try to avoid a direct confrontation, and this resulted in signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact".

The Molotov-Ribbentrop accord was signed on 23 August 1939.

Three days later, the German army was mobilised and nine days later Hitler attacked Poland, triggering declarations of war by France and Britain.

Many historians believe the Molotov-Ribbentrop deal allowed Hitler to start the war because he knew he wouldn’t have to face the Soviet Union.

But the Soviet Union was itself invaded in June 1941, when Hitler launched a surprise attack.

Speaking after Putin, Merkel noted that besides being a non-aggression pact, the the Molotov-Ribbentrop accord was also an agreement to dismantle Poland.

"From my point of view, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is hard to understand unless you take into consideration the extra secret protocol," she said, implying Putin gave an inaccurate assessment of the accord.

“From this point of view, I consider it was not right, it was done on an unlawful basis."

Stalin attacked Poland on 17 September 1939, in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop deal, on the pretext that he had to protect Ukrainian and Belarussian minorities.

Merkel, and most EU leaders, boycotted the Red Square military parade on Saturday (9 May) in protest at Russia’s involvement in the war in Ukraine.

But she attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of the Unknown Soldier with Putin on Sunday.

"Because of us [Germans], millions of people died and the Red Army played a decisive role in the liberation of Berlin," she said.

"We have learned from bitter experiences, difficult situations, and now we have to overcome one by peaceful and diplomatic means," she added, referring to the Ukraine crisis.

The chancellor said she regretted that "we still do not have a ceasefire" in eastern Ukraine, despite the "Minsk" ceasefire agreement, but underlined that "we work with Russia, not against her".

For his part, Putin admitted both leaders "differ considerably in [their] assessment of the events that led to the anti-constitutional coup in the Ukrainian capital in February 2014”. But he adopted a conciliatory tone.

"We will exert all possible influence on the authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk [in occupied east Ukraine] in order to ensure that this process goes at the hoped-for speed and quality. Ms Merkel and I agreed to work more closely on the crisis in Ukraine, including through the Normandy format," he said, referring to talks between Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France.

Meanwhile, European Council president Donald Tusk compared "the evil" of World War II with the current war in Ukraine.

"We have read that evil is banal – [Ukrainian] president Petro Poroshenko knows better than we do today that evil is here again," he said on Saturday (8 May) at a war memorial in Gdansk, in his native Poland.

"I believe that Europe can be responsible in a different way than in 1939, that Europeans can feel responsible for the entire continent, not just for their [own] people," he said.


"We've started to wonder which victory the organiser of the parade has designated for the future," Tusk added, on Putin’s 9 May parade.

Feature

How spies use women to steal EU secrets

"Thou shalt not sleep around on delegation" should be the "11th commandment" for EU diplomats, as spies continue to use Cold War-type 'honey-traps' in modern times.

EU calls George Floyd's death 'abuse of power'

The EU's top diplomat said the death of a black American in policy custody was an "abuse of power", while a top liberal MEP on data privacy said the US government actions raise questions on EU-US cooperation.

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

Opinion

Is Russia manipulating food supplies during pandemic?

Russia already dominates global oil – letting them dominate global food during a pandemic would spell disaster for the EU. It would effectively mean the EU, not just depending on Russian energy, but increasingly also on Russian food supply.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us