In comments liable to stoke anger in eastern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the non-aggression agreement signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, was legitimate, and that Britain and France were to blame for Hitler's conquest of much of Europe.
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As reported by the Telegraph, Putin made the comments in a Moscow meeting with young historians, during which he aired other revisionist views regarding the lead-up to World War Two.
The Nazi-Soviet Pact included secret protocols to divvy up Poland, Romania, Finland and the Baltic states between the Third Reich and the FSU – an arrangement designed to divide eastern Europe into two spheres of influence. The Kremlin denied the existence of this secret arrangement until 1989, notes the Telegraph.
"Serious research must show that those were the foreign policy methods then," Putin said, appearing to justify then Soviet leader Joseph's Stalin's decision to sign the pact with Adolf Hitler: "The Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany. People say: 'Ach, that's bad.' But what's bad about that if the Soviet Union didn't want to fight, what's bad about it?"
Putin instead laid blame at the feet of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for signing the 1938 Munich Agreement, thereby paving the way for the Nazi occupation of the Sudetenland. According to a Kremlin transcript of the Wednesday meeting, Putin said that "Chamberlain came, waved a piece of paper and said, 'I've brought you peace' when he returned to London after the talks."
Despite his comments Wednesday, the Telegraph notes that, back in 2009, Putin labelled the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact "immoral,' while still apportioning blame to Britain for signing the Munich Agreement with the Nazis.