Putin pens 9,000-word exegesis on WWII, defending Soviet non-aggression pact with Hitler and describing occupation of Baltic states as ‘with consent’
The National Interest — yes, the same international affairs journal run by Dmitri Simes, whose name appears more than 100 times in Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — has published a new article credited to President Vladimir Putin about the Second World War.
Titled “The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II,” Putin’s article addresses the diplomatic missteps that led to war, the actions of different states in the first stage of the war, and the Soviet-Nazi Non-Aggression Treaty, better known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
The text makes several contentious claims. Historian Sergey Radchenko calls it “a piece of crude propaganda” and has identified what he says are several of the most egregious assertions: for example, Putin says the USSR was “practically the last among the European countries” to sign a pact with Hitler, and that Moscow didn’t initially plan to invade Poland, despite its secret pact with German. Putin also implies that the Western Allies reached secret pacts with Hitler that they refuse to declassify to this day.
Some of the Russian president’s most inflammatory comments concern the invasion and absorption of the Baltic states, which he describes as “implemented on a contractual basis, with the consent of the elected authorities” and “in line with international and state law of that time.”
Correction: The opening line of an earlier version of this article incorrectly identified The National Interest as The American Interest. We apologize for the mistake, to our readers and to The American Interest.
The harsh split caused by the revolution and the Civil War, nihilism, mockery of national history, traditions and faith that the Bolsheviks tried to impose, especially in the first years after coming to power – all of this had its impact. But the general attitude of the absolute majority of Soviet citizens and our compatriots who found themselves abroad was different – to save and protect the Motherland.
President Putin announced his intention to write an article about World War II last December, during his end-of-the-year press conference with journalists from around the country. On June 14, the Kremlin reported that the article was complete.
Putin’s decision to weigh in on the start of the Second World War follows a resolution adopted by the European Parliament last September that establishes May 25 as “International Day of Heroes of the Fight Against Totalitarianism.” The resolution says the war was “an immediate result of the notorious Nazi-Soviet Treaty on Non-Aggression.” Putin has objected vociferously to this language, dismissing any efforts to equate the USSR and Nazi Germany as “the height of cynicism.”