Putin condemns EU stance on Nazi-Soviet WWII pact
The Russian president on Wednesday dismissed as "unfounded" an EU resolution stating that the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact had laid the groundwork for World War II.
Speaking to officials organizing the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the EU's position "was not based on anything real."
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Russia has maintained the postwar position of officials in the Soviet Union, who said the pact was a necessary evil to try and stop the Nazis from invading — or at least delay them.
"They are very nearly blaming the Soviet Union, alongside Nazi Germany, for causing the Second World War," Putin said. "As if they have forgotten who attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, and the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941."
The agreement is rarely discussed in Russia, where the Soviet Union's role in ending the Second World War is a source of enormous patriotic pride.
The pact was a written mutual guarantee of peace, as well as a commitment that neither would ally itself to an enemy party. The countries' two foreign ministers, after whom the pact is named, also agreed to carve up eastern Europe between one another.
Pictured above are the architects of the deal (from left) Friedrich Gaus from Germany; Joachim von Ribbentrop, German foreign minister, Joseph Stalin, Soviet head of state; and his foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov.
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October's EU resolution said the agreement had set out to divide Europe "between the two totalitarian regimes" of Hitler's Nazi Germany and Josef Stalin's communist Soviet Union.
'Decades of misery'
The governments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania had released a statement in August saying the pact "doomed half of Europe to decades of misery."
"We will continue to talk about the events, the facts of the Great Patriotic War, to unveil and publicize archive materials in their entirety," Putin said.
The Russian president also complained that Russians disputing the assertion were being accused of indulging in "information warfare against democratic Europe."
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Historians have said that Stalin used the pact as a chance to seize territory that was part of the Russian Empire up to the 1917 Communist revolution. As the Nazis expanded into western Poland, the Soviet Union took over territories in the Baltic and eastern Poland, among others. It did not give up these territorial gains after World War II.
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rc/sms (interfax, dpa)