|Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (L) and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Moscow. Photo: EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY (Source)|
Angela Merkel is trying to talk sense into Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, it's still not working.
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939's Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow's response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations.
At the close of his Sunday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow — a day after Russian held grand-scale celebrations of the allied victory in World War II — Putin offered a lengthy defense of the controversial agreement that led to the carving up of Eastern Europe.
"The Soviet Union made massive efforts to lay the groundwork for a collective resistance to Nazism in Germany, made repeated attempts to create an anti-fascist bloc in Europe. All of these attempts failed," Putin told journalists at a joint news conference with Merkel, according to a transcript released by the Kremlin.
"And when the Soviet Union realized that it was being left one-on-one with Hitler's Germany, it took steps to avoid a direct confrontation, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed," Putin said.
Merkel offered a diplomatically phrased objection, telling the joint news conference that the "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is difficult to understand without considering the additional secret protocol. With that in mind, I think it was wrong, it was done illegally," she said, according to the Kremlin's Russian-language transcript.
The secret protocol, which accompanied what was officially presented as a non-aggression treaty, divided up the territories of Poland, Romania, the Baltic nations and Finland into German and Soviet "spheres of influence." It led to the German and Soviet invasions of Poland, and to the Soviet annexation of the three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — and parts of Romania
Timothy Snyder, one of my favourite historians in the following You-Tube clip, asks what it means for Europe today when the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact has been rehabilitated by Russia. He was the keynote speaker at a conference in Germany at the Boell Institute in Berlin on March 2 this year. He's definitely got the Germans thinking about this question, which would be why German journalist raised it with with Putin a couple of days ago.
Related Links: Putin Defends Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in Press Conference with Merkel ~ Moscow Times
President of Russia Vladimir Putin defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that paved the way for the division of Poland during a press conference on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel ~ Radio Poland
Putin’s New Nostalgia ~ NY Review of Books
|Cartoon by David Low, published in the Evening Standard: 20 September 1939 (Source)|