Posted on Jun 19, 2020
In a lengthy article in the U.S. National Interest journal on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin insists on recognition of the Soviet Union as the prime defeater of Nazi Germany, criticises Poland’s actions before the war and defends the annexation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The article, titled “The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II,” appeared six days before a military parade in Red Square to commemorate the end of World War II in Europe.
“It is essential to pass on to future generations the memory of the fact that the Nazis were defeated first and foremost by the Soviet people,” Putin wrote, bemoaning that “certain politicians rushed to claim that Russia was trying to rewrite history.”
Here he refers to recent debate over the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union on August 23rd 1939.
The fact of the agreement, which contained a so-called secret protocol setting out how the two powers would divide Europe between themselves, is a great embarrassment to Putin, as it effectively discredits his narrative, in which the Second World War was won mainly by the Soviet Union.
For decades after the war, Moscow refused to acknowledge the secret protocol, which provided for the allocation to the USSR of Latvia, Estonia, Finland, the eastern “regions that make up the Polish state”, and Bessarabia. Lithuania and the western part of Poland were assigned to the Nazis.
Two weeks after Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, with Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin carving up the conquered territories based on the protocol.
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Putin has claimed that the Soviet Union was forced into signing the pact after Western powers rejected a military alliance.
In this he disingenuously ignores the fact that even as the pact was being signed, British and French diplomats were busy in Moscow trying to negotiate just such an alliance.
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