Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, defends the infamous pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that agreed to divide up eastern Europe.
Putin had, in the past condemned, the pact as unethical.
On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to carve up eastern Europe between them in a secret clause of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on non-aggression.
“When the USSR realized that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,” Putin says at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist.
He was asked to respond to comments by Russia’s outspoken culture minister Vladimir Medinsky praising the pact as a triumph of Joseph Stalin’s diplomacy.
“In this sense, I share the opinion of our culture minister that this pact had significance for ensuring the security of the USSR,” adds Putin.
He stresses that the Soviet Union had been pushed to sign the pact after the earlier 1938 Munich agreement signed by Britain, France and Italy with Adolf Hitler ended hope of a united front against the Nazis.
The pact came after the USSR made “numerous efforts to create an anti-Fascist bloc in Europe” that ended in failure, he continues.