Russian President Valdimir Putin, in a meeting with historians, has voiced approval of the Molotov-von Ribbentrop non-aggression treaty signed on August 23, 1939, a week before the German invasion of Poland. In a secret protocol to the treaty, which Moscow did not acknowledge until 1989, Germany and Russia agreed to the partition of Poland between them.
(1) “Nichtangriffspakt: Putin verteidigt Hitler-Stalin-Pakt; Bei einer Historikerveranstaltung in Moskau hat Wladimir Putin den Hitler-Stalin-Pakt gerechtfertigt: Der sei keine schlechte Idee gewesen,” Der Spiegel, 7. November 2014 (13:39 Uhr).
(2) Tom Parfitt (Moscow), “Vladimir Putin says there was nothing wrong with Soviet Union’s pact with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany; Russian president says he sees nothing wrong with treaty with Nazi Germany that led to the carve-up of Poland – and blames Britain for destroying any chance of an anti-fascist front,” The Telegraph, November 6, 2014 (1:15 p.m.).
“Serious research must show that those were the foreign policy methods then,” he said, adding: “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?”
Secret protocols of the pact in which the Nazis and the Communists agreed to divide up Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and Poland into spheres of influence were officially denied by the Kremlin until 1989.
More than 20,000 arrested and captured Poles were executed by the Soviet secret police in the Katyn massacre in 1940. The Nazis began an extermination campaign that would eventually lead to the deaths of three million Jews in Poland alone.
Mr Putin appeared to imply the secret protocols continued to be a matter of dispute today, saying, “people still argue about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and accuse the Soviet Union of dividing up Poland”.
In 2009, the Russian leader condemned the Nazi-Soviet pact as “immoral” but said France and the UK had destroyed any chance for an anti-fascist front with the Munich Agreement.
This latest statement is is yet another in a growing number of pieces of evidence, consisting of both words and actions, that Putin has become an admirer of Adolf Hitler and is copying his methods.
Putin’s statements are an attempt to rewrite history.
What is particularly dangerous about his assertions is that there is no one in the West in a high position who is providing detailed, factual rebuttals of them.
With budget cuts and the transfer of the U.S. Information Agency to the State Department, U.S. “public diplomacy”, like that in other allied countries, is effectively dead. Consider, for example, the simple fact that the BBC World Service no longer operates under the supervision of the Foreign Office.
No one is calling Putin out for his lies and distortions of history, just as no one has bothered to refute in detail and in a sustained manner his preposterous international legal arguments or the blatant lies and misrepresentations his propaganda machine churns out, night and day.
The risk is that Putin, not hearing any rebuttals, may come to believe that his assertions are generally accepted in the West. Together with the policy of appeasement followed by the leaders of the United States and Europe in response to Russian invasion and “annexation” of the Crimea, and the ongoing Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine, Putin could easily assume that he could intensify his aggression in the Donbas without any significant adverse consequences.
France is still weighing whether to deliver “The Vladilovstok”, a Mistral-class attack warship and regional command and control system, to Russia in November (invitations to a November 14 delivery ceremony were sent out on October 8).
The EU is considering imposing further “sanctions” on additional individuals in Russia, though these are not really sanctions in the true sense of the word. The idea that such measures could do anything beyond assuaging the guilt of Europeans over doing nothing to defend the Ukraine is ludicrous.
The United States continues to refuse to provide the Ukraine with the military assistance and training, including “lethal” weapons, that Ukrainian President Petro Petroshenko requested many months ago. It is not even considering further sanctions, at least publicly.
We are living in a world where the structures of international peace and security are being hollowed out, losing strength and deterrent force every day, as the international order we have known for over 70 years begins to collapse.
The U.S. has demonstrated over the last six years that it is not capable of exercising effective foreign policy leadership in the world. Unfortunately, there is no one else with the clear vision and the iron will required to do so.
The earliest the U.S. might even begin to exercise such leadership in the world is January, 1917, after a new president and a new team take office. But there is nothing at all certain about that prospect.
One is reminded once again of the first stanza of “The Second Coming”, William Butler Yeats’ celebrated poem written after World War I, which reads as follows:
The Second Coming (published 1921)
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats
The entire poem including the second stanza can be found here.
The Trenchant Observer