Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Bulletin 3:25 (2009) - Special Issue: Information War RU vs. EE

Expand Messages
  • andreumland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 3, No. 25(67), 6 September 2009 - Special Issue: Information War with Ukraine,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2009
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 3, No. 25(67), 6 September 2009 - Special Issue: Information War with Ukraine, Poland and Baltics

      Source: 'Ukraine, Poland and Baltic States under ''Information War'': Attacks & Criticism from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev', in: ACTION UKRAINE REPORT (AUR), No. 940. Compiled by Mr. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor. WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPTEMBER 1, 2009.

      C O N T E N T S
      Denounces resolution condemning both Nazism and Stalinism
      Agence France Presse, August 31, 2009
      By Luke Harding
      The Guardian, 30 August 2009
      By Steve Gutterman
      Associated Press (AP), Aug 30, 2009
      By Nikolai Dimlevich
      Global Research, Montreal, August 30, 2009
      Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has set off an alarm. The
      West dare not dismiss them as raving. We have to be concerned.
      By Askold S. Lozynskyj
      Action Ukraine Report (AUR), August 31, 2009
      By Lynn Berry
      Associated Press, August 30, 2009
      By Clifford J. Levy
      The New York Times, Aug 27, 2009
      Russia is caught between continents and haunted by its past. Richard Pipes on the
      need to convince a nation to dial back its aggressive tendencies and join the West.
      By Richard Pipes
      The Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2009
      Russia’s president writes his Ukrainian counterpart an insulting letter
      Economist, Aug 20, 2009
      By Ron Popeski
      Reuters, Aug 24, 2009
      By Vladislav GULEVICH (Ukraine)
      Strategic Culture Foundation, Moscow, August 22, 2009
      Interview with Orest Deychakiwsky, Policy Advisor, Helsinki Commission
      By Myroslava Gongadze
      Voice of America (VOA), Aug 21, 2009
      By John Marone
      Eurasian Home website, Moscow, July 28, 2009
      By Andre de Nesnera
      Voice of America (VOA), 26 Aug 2009
      By Dmitry Solovyov
      Reuters, August 27, 2009
      By Paul Goble
      Window on Eurasia, Vienna, August 27, 2009
      In 2008 I joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Ukraine
      By Claire St. Amant
      The Wall Street Journal, Aug 21, 2009
      Poland, Ukraine and Baltic States under an ‘Information War’ from Russia
      By Halya Coynash
      Kharkiv Human Right Protection Group (KHRPG), August 31, 2009
      Deep divisions over who was to blame for Second World War cast shadow over 70th anniversary meeting
      By Shaun Walker
      The Independent, 1 Sep 2009
      By Matthew Day
      Scotsman, Edinburgh, Sep 1, 2009

      [NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the
      homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of
      the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of
      the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear.]

      Denounces resolution condemning both Nazism and Stalinism

      Agence France Presse, Moscow, Russia, Monday, August 31, 2009

      MOSCOW: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday criticised Ukraine and the Baltic states for glorifying ‘Nazi accomplices’, speaking ahead of the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II.

      ‘We are seeing some astounding trends,’ Medvedev said in an interview with the Rossia state television channel. ‘Governments in the Baltic states and even Ukraine are now essentially pronouncing former Nazi accomplices to be their national heroes who fought for the liberation of their nations. ‘Of course, everyone knows what really happened, but everyone looks down in shame, so as to avoid souring relations.’

      Russia has repeatedly criticised former Soviet republics Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for seeking to rehabilitate anti-Communist groups that in some cases collaborated with the Nazis.

      Resolution: Medvedev also lashed out at a resolution passed in July by the parliamentary assembly of the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) which condemned both Nazism and Stalinism.

      Medvedev said the resolution had pronounced Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union ‘to be equally responsible for World War II’ and said: ‘Now this, quite frankly, is a flat-out lie.’

      He appeared to be referring to the resolution’s assertion that both regimes brought about genocide and war crimes, and its call to establish a Europe-wide memorial day on August 23, the anniversary of a notorious Nazi-Soviet pact.

      Berlin and Moscow signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in 1939, paving the way for a joint invasion of Poland days later and Moscow’s seizure of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which remained Soviet republics until 1991. Despite the pact, the Soviet Union was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941 and lost tens of millions of people in the conflict.

      Present-day Russia regards the Soviet role in World War II as heroic and bristles at attempts to equate the totalitarian systems of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

      Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of the Nazi German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, widely regarded as the start of World War II. Soviet troops invaded and occupied eastern parts of Poland less than three weeks later.


      Luke Harding in Moscow, Guardian, London, UK, Sunday 30 August 2009

      It is a debate that has raged in European capitals ahead of the 70th anniversary on Tuesday of the beginning of the second world war on 1 September 1939. Who, apart from Hitler, was actually responsible for starting it?

      This summer the Baltic states have blamed Hitler and Stalin equally. Russia, meanwhile, is fingering Poland. Ultimately, however, the row which threatens to eclipse a gathering on Tuesday of European leaders in Gdansk is not about history or the past. It is all about the present, specifically Russia's claim of having ‘privileged interests’ in its post-Soviet neighbours.

      Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, made his own explosive contribution to the debate, saying it was a ‘flat-out lie’ to suggest that Stalin bore any responsibility for starting the second world war, which he described as ‘the 20th century's greatest catastrophe’. According to Medvedev, it was Stalin who in fact ‘ultimately saved Europe’.

      In an interview with Rossiya TV earlier today, Medvedev let rip at the EU Baltic states and Ukraine, accusing them of rewriting history, glorifying fascism, and obscuring the Soviet Union's unique leading role in the liberation of Europe. He also blasted the EU and its Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), which, in July, passed a resolution equating Stalinism with Nazism.

      ‘The OSCE parliamentary assembly just recently grouped together Germany and the Soviet Union, pronouncing them to be equally responsible for world war two,’ Medvedev said. ‘Now that, quite frankly, is a flat-out lie.’

      Medvedev recognised that there could be ‘different attitudes’ toward the Soviet Union. But he alleged that there could be no debate at all over ‘who started the war, which country killed people, and which country saved people, millions of people, and which country, ultimately, saved Europe’.

      He accused governments in the Baltic states and Ukraine of ‘pronouncing former Nazi accomplices to be their national heroes’. Western Europeans were allowing eastern Europeans to get away with this outrageous revisionism, he suggested, because they were fearful of souring relations.

      The pronouncements from Russia's president came as the leaders of Russia, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania prepared to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the war in the Polish city of Gdansk. Russia is sending Vladimir Putin, Russia's hawkish prime minister, whose presence near the place where Hitler began his Polish invasion, shelling a military depot, is unlikely to dispel the present rancour.

      Old tensions are resurfacing amid frantic attempts by Moscow to defend the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, signed by Germany and the Soviet Union's foreign ministers 70 years ago last week. The deal saw Hitler and Stalin carve up Europe, with Moscow subsequently annexing Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, two-thirds of Poland and much of Romania.

      The Kremlin now argues that Stalin had no choice but to forge the pact with Hitler in August 1939. It says Britain and France made war inevitable by signing the Munich agreement. And it puts the boot firmly into Poland; the Kremlin says the country was a willing Nazi ally and accomplice to Hitler's partition of Czechoslovakia the previous year.

      Historians are unimpressed. ‘This is a very stupid argument,’ Vladimir Ryzhkov, a historian and former Russian opposition MP said. ‘You are saying that Poland was bad for allowing the division of Czechoslovakia, but that Stalin was good when he agreed to divide eastern Europe with Hitler.’

      He added: ‘The Kremlin wants to create a new identity for the Russian nation. It advocates the Stalin regime, and promotes the idea that Stalin's actions were right and necessary at all times, including when Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.’

      According to Ryzhkov, Russia's contemporary leadership is seeking to rehabilitate Stalin in order to justify its own ‘authoritarian’ model. He described Hitler as the ‘creator’ of the second world war, who bore responsibility for it, but said that the Soviet Union, the US, Britain, France, and the Baltic republics also had to shoulder blame for the conflict.

      So far, there are few signs that the dispute will fade. Russia has promised to reveal more documents about Poland on Tuesday from the secret archives of the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service. They follow the declassification of other top-secret surveillance documents, used by Moscow last week to defend Stalin's occupation of eastern Europe.

      In May, Medvedev announced that he was setting up a new body to counter what he called the ‘falsification of history’. The commission, dominated by members of Russia's FSB intelligence service rather than professional historians, would ensure that history teaching stressed Russia's heroic sacrifice during the war, Medvedev said, and it would combat foreign ‘revisionists’, he said.

      Russia's contention that it is entitled to a modern sphere of influence on the fringes of Europe has caused consternation in the EU and elsewhere. But, speaking historically, it is a view Stalin would undoubtedly have shared.



      By Steve Gutterman, Associated Press (AP), Moscow, Russia, Sun, Aug 30, 2009

      MOSCOW — Russia's president defended Moscow's role in World War II before the 70th anniversary of its outbreak, saying in an interview broadcast Sunday that anyone who lays equal blame on the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany is telling a ‘cynical lie.’

      Dmitry Medvedev's remarks were the latest salvo in Russia's bitter dispute with its neighbors over the war and its aftermath. The Kremlin has launched a campaign for universal acceptance of its portrayal of the Soviet Union as Europe's liberator.

      In Eastern Europe, however, gratitude for the Nazi defeat is diluted by bitterness over the decades of postwar Soviet dominance.

      Medvedev suggested in the interview with state-run Rossiya television that nobody can question ‘who started the war, who killed people and who saved millions of lives — who, in the final analysis, saved Europe.’ ‘You cannot label someone who defended himself an aggressor,’ Medvedev said.

      Tuesday marks 70 years since the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, shortly after Josef Stalin's Soviet Union reached a nonaggression pact with
      Germany that included a secret protocol dividing eastern Europe into spheres of influence.

      Weeks after the German invasion, the Soviet army entered Poland from the east. After claiming its part of Poland, the Soviet Union then annexed the Baltic states and parts of Finland and Romania.

      Germany is widely considered the chief culprit in the war, but many Western historians believe Hitler was encouraged to invade by the treaty with Moscow, called the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The Kremlin recently has mounted a defense against suggestions that the Soviet Union shares responsibility for the outbreak of the war.

      Russians contend that the Soviet leadership saw a deal with Nazi Germany as the only alternative after failing to reach a military agreement with Britain and France, and that the pact bought time to prepare for war.

      Medvedev lashed out at the parliamentary assembly of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe over a July resolution equating the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, saying: ‘Excuse me, but this is a cynical lie.’

      In the broadcast interview, Medvedev accused Western nations of turning a blind eye to what he said is the practice of Ukraine and the Baltic ex-Soviet republics of treating ‘former Nazi disciples’ as ‘national heroes.’

      He suggested there was greater agreement between Moscow and the West about the moral aspects of World War II during the Cold War than there is now.
      Russian leaders accuse Western countries of rewriting history and understating the staggering sacrifices of the Soviet Union, which lost an estimated 27 million people in the war. In May, Medvedev created a commission to fight what he said were growing efforts to hurt Russia by falsifying history.

      Kremlin critics have accused Russia of doing the falsifying, saying its leadership glosses over the Soviet government's conduct at home and abroad.

      In recent months, Poland has expressed dismay over a program on state-run Russian television and a research paper posted on the Russian Defense Ministry's Web site that seemed to lay significant blame on Poland for the outbreak of WWII.


      by Nikolai Dimlevich, Strategic Culture Foundation, Moscow
      Global Research, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Sun, August 30, 2009

      The 70th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the beginning of the WW II, its causes and culprits, and also a PACE resolution equating Nazism and Stalinism, are being widely discussed in the Russian media. Under the guidance of various western political circles operating in Russia, this discussion has turned into a real campaign involving some politicians, journalists and also the most vulnerable groups: women, young people, national and religious minorities.

      The question is whether this campaign was plotted deliberately overseas? I believe it was. Remember who and why attempts to rewrite the history of the bloodiest war ever. Not to let Russia strengthen its position on the international scene, the West is using all means to diminish the role of the Soviet Union in the WW II.

      The US seems to be playing the leading role here. The State Department provides unspoken support to the states which governments are pursuing Russia for ‘the crimes of the totalitarian Communist regime’. These sentiments are especially strong in the countries formerly comprising the Warsaw Pact and in the post-Soviet area, first of all in Georgia and Ukraine.

      Poland and Baltic states seem to be taking the most active part in this 'conspiracy'. The non-acceptance of geopolitical results of the war is the core of ideology of the Polish right-wing factions (the ruling Civil Platform as well as the opposition Right and Justice).

      The Baltic authorities hope to use a theory of 'illegitimate post-war world order' to justify its claims to Russia. Thus, Lithuania plans to suggest the creation of a special court to investigate ‘the Soviet genocide’ case, where Russia would be a respondent.

      Apart from this, nationalists from the Union for Fatherland are also going to put the status of the Russian Kaliningrad region on the agenda at the European Parliament. Estonia hopes to present its claims for the territories in the Pskov and Leningrad regions of Russia.

      'Occupational' approach to the newest history is getting more popular in post-Soviet states as well. The local authorities are blaming Russia for 'humiliating' minor nations and are posing themselves as 'victims of Russian imperialism'. Ukraine panders to it in a most active way. The official Kiev welcomes heroization of militants from the Ukrainian Insurgent army and other independence fighters (S. Bandera, R. Shukhevitch, e.t.c).

      In their attempt to rewrite WW II history, the western governments address some research centers to have a detailed plan of how to hold scientific discussions on war memorials and burial places somehow related to the Soviet army, and also on how to organize neo-Nazi marches and offer privileges to former SS officers.

      This policy results in the creation of the so-called 'museums of occupation' and 'national remembrance institutions'. These organizations enjoy stable financial support from the government and grants from abroad and thus have plenty of money to 'carry out investigation' into Russia's occupation of adjacent states and other 'war crimes'. The names of the researches speak for themselves.

      'Museums of occupation' have been opened in the Baltic states (Museum of Genocide in Lithuania and Military Museum in Latvia) and in Georgia (Museum of Occupation) and in Kiev (Museum of Soviet Occupation, 2007).

      The Institute of National Remembrance-Commission of the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation was established in Poland in 1998 with a special bill and focuses on the investigation of crimes against the Polish citizens in the period from 1944 to 1990.

      There is also a national remembrance institute in Slovakia, headed by I. Petransky, an active member of the neo-Nazi movement which took part in campaigns in memory of a Slovakian dictator and Hitler`s ally Jozef Tiso. The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes was founded in Romania in 1993. It deals with the collection and analysis of the information related with socialism in Romania.

      The Institute for Information for the Crimes of Communism was established in the Czech Republic in 1995, its aim being to investigate crimes against humanity committed by the communist regime. In 2007 there was also found the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes which deals with the 'epoch of Communism' (1948-1989) and Nazi occupation of the Czech Republic.

      The Commission of the Historians of Latvia was established in Latvia in 1998. Adviser to the Latvian President on History Issues Antonijs Zunda is among members of the commission. The main task of the Commission is to provide state officials with the information they need to be successful in their rhetoric about 'Two Occupations' (Soviet and German) in the period from 1940 to 1991.

      There is also a Center for Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism of the Constitution Protection Bureau and a governmental commission for identifying the victims of 'totalitarian communist occupational regime of the Soviet Union', routes of deportation and their burial places.

      In early 1990s in Lithuania there was founded the Genocide and Resistance Research Center, which later received the status of a department in the Cabinet of Ministers. The center provides legal assessment on the crimes committed by the communist regimes against Lithuanians.

      But the biggest number of institutions dealing with the problem of occupation is in Estonia. They are: Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes against Humanity, a center for studies of the Soviet period, a bureau for registration of the repressed, the Kistler-Ritso Foundation and also the State Commission for studying repressive policies of the occupational regimes.

      This commission released the ‘White Book of Losses Estonia Suffered During the Occupations’. The edition was used to boost a large-scale anti-Russian campaign. In November 2007, a remembrance institute was established in Estonia as well. In May 2008 the Foundation for Investigating Crimes Committed by Communist regimes said its aim was to ‘condemn Communism as criminal ideology’.

      The city of Lviv in western Ukraine was the first in the post-Soviet area to take up the baton from its neighbors in the Baltic states. A governmental commission for studying the history of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and rehabilitation of its members was established there.

      Independent western experts also name some other organizations in Ukraine which have obvious anti-Russian tasks: the Institute of Ukraine Studies, the Institute of Ethno-National Research, the Institute of Philosophy. The staff of these institutions mainly deals with the Holodomor (1933) and heroization of such controversial figures like Shukhevich, Bandera, Konovalets and other members of various insurgent groups.

      Following the initiative of the Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko, on May 31 2006 there was established a national remembrance institution to promote the belief that Ukrainians were starved to death due to the Soviet politics and that members of the insurgent movements of 1920-50ss in Ukraine were national heroes.

      Some countries of the Eastern Europe and the CIS, following the instructions from Washington and PACE, insist that 'both totalitarian regimes are equally responsible for unleashing the war'. Here I should quote Efraim Zurov, director of the Israeli branch of Simon Wiesenthal Center, who said that by equating crimes committed by Hitler to those of the Communists, the governments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have practically invalidated the former.

      ‘The idea is the following: by talking about Communist genocide to distract public attention from the extermination of the Jews by the Baltic armies during the Nazi occupation... When the EU, US, Israel and all the Jews living worldwide failed to make the Baltic states take responsibility for the Holocaust, the Baltic governments launched their campaign of equating Nazism to Communism’, Zurov says. 1

      A special commission under the auspices of the Russian President is expected to play a crucial role in consolidating efforts of different scientific and political organizations aimed at resisting the attempts to distort historical facts and damage Russia's national interests. The suffering endured by the Russian people during the WW II is the strongest thing that unites all people, as well as the Victory Day, despite their political preferences and financial well-being.

      However, it does not mean that this commission will complete its work after the celebrations of the 65th anniversary of victory in 2010 are over. It should work systematically. Sadly, this is what we cannot see today.

      To resist the US-led anti-Russian campaign, it would be the right thing to establish non-governmental organizations in Russia and in the countries formerly comprising the anti-Hitler coalition,and also in Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain, Japan, and use media outlets around the globe to let people know the truth about this tragic page in the history of the 20th century.

      Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

      Strategic Culture Foundation: http://en.fondsk.ru/articlelist.php?section_id=22

      Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has set off an alarm. The
      West dare not dismiss them as raving. We have to be concerned.

      Analysis & Commentary: By Askold S. Lozynskyj, New York, NY, Tue, Aug 18, 2009
      Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Washington, D.C., Monday, August 31, 2009

      On August 6, 2009 President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev wrote to President of Ukraine Victor Yuschenko expressing indignation over Russia-Ukraine relations, resulting from President Yuschenko’s tenure as president. This communication read in part:

      Problems in bilateral cooperation have, of course, existed before. This was natural following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, when we had to
      develop relations between two sovereign states. However, what we have witnessed during the years of your presidency cannot be interpreted as
      anything other than the Ukrainian party's departure from the principles of friendship and partnership with Russia, embodied in the Treaty of 1997…

      A negative public reaction was caused by Ukraine's anti-Russian stance in connection with the brutal attack on South Ossetia by Saakashvili's regime.
      A year after those tragic events, once again the question of why civilians and Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinval were killed with Ukrainian weapons
      has arisen. Those in Kiev (sic) who supplied the Georgian army with weapons and, by the way, do not intend to stop doing so, fully share with Tbilisi
      the responsibility for the committed crimes…Ignoring the views of Ukrainian citizens as well as Russia's well-known position, the political
      leadership of Ukraine stubbornly continues to pursue accession to NATO.

      And as a so-called argument you hint at a ‘Russian threat’ to Ukrainian security, something which, as you are well aware, does not and cannot exist.
      Unfortunately, the logical continuation of this destructive reasoning is the incessant attempts to complicate the activities of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in
      violation of the fundamental agreements between our countries governing the parameters of its base in Ukraine…

      At the same time, it seems that Kiev (sic) has consistently sought to sever existing economic ties with Russia, primarily in the field of energy. These
      actions threaten the ability of our countries to reliably use what is, in fact, a unified gas transmission system that ensures the energy security of Russia,
      Ukraine and many European nations…

      Russian-Ukrainian relations have been further tested as a result of your administration's willingness to engage in historical revisionism, its heroization
      of Nazi collaborators, exaltation of the role played by radical nationalists, and imposition among the international community of a nationalistic
      interpretation of the mass famine of 1932-1933 in the USSR, calling it the ‘genocide of the Ukrainian people’…

      The ousting of the Russian language from public life, science, education, culture, media and judicial proceedings continues…

      the harmful practices of intervention by the government of Ukraine in the affairs of the Orthodox Church beg attention. The conditions that were
      created artificially on the eve and during a recent pastoral visit to Ukraine by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia could hardly be described as
      favourable. Against this background, it is particularly gratifying to see the genuine and broad support for the unity of Orthodoxy demonstrated by
      Ukrainians who welcomed the Patriarch…

      I would like to inform you that in view of the anti-Russian position of the current Ukrainian authorities I have decided to postpone sending a new
      Russian ambassador to Ukraine. Specific dates will be determined later in light of the future development of Russian-Ukrainian relations…

      For Russia, from time immemorial Ukrainians have been and remain not just neighbours, but also a fraternal people for whom we will always cherish
      the very best feelings, with whom we share a common history, culture and religion, ties stemming from close economic cooperation, and strong
      kinship and human relations…

      In Russia we hope that the new political leadership of Ukraine will be ready to build relations between our countries that correspond to the genuine
      aspirations of our peoples and help strengthen European security. [1]

      Ukraine’s President Yuschenko replied firmly yet diplomatically. The latter was quite remarkable considering that in essence, the President of Russia had entered brazenly as a critic into Ukraine’s upcoming presidential foray [2].

      As to the merits of his comments, Mr. Medvedev appears disingenuous. Point by point his accusations can be refuted with facts known to almost anyone who
      is familiar with Russia and Ukraine, certainly Mr. Medvedev:

      [a] the Treaty of 1997 could have been terminated by President Yuschenko, instead Mr. Yuschenko permitted the treaty to renew automatically even after
      Russia’s invasion into Georgia [3];
      [b] Ukraine’s sale of arms to Georgia is consistent entirely with international norms [4];
      [c] a sovereign state naturally determines its own foreign policy since that is one of the elements of sovereignty and forges security alliances such as
      NATO which it deems most beneficial;
      [d] Russia’s Black Sea fleet stationed in Sevastopil remains on Ukrainian territory until the expiration of its lease [5];
      [e] the energy crisis between Russia and Ukraine which ultimately affected other European countries was precipitated and repeated every time by
      Russia’s cutoff or reduction as Russia was in control at all times [6];
      [f] Ukraine having condemned Nazism and fascism is coming to grips only now with its communist past and its relationship with Russia, which has
      dominated Ukraine over the last three hundred fifty years [7];
      [g] Ukraine is becoming aware that Communism equaled or even exceeded Nazism in terms of atrocity and number of victims due to longevity; Ukraine is
      only beginning to discover it’s history which had been purged or rewritten by Russia and the USSR[8];
      [h] the true heroes of Ukraine have been forgotten or besmirched largely by Russian and Soviet historiography and present day Ukraine is attempting to
      rehabilitate them with honors they long deserved [9];
      [i] the Russian language has flourished in Ukraine at the expense of the Ukrainian language and Ukraine funds some 4000 Russian language schools while
      Russia funds no Ukrainian language schools [10];
      [j] Ukraine clearly separates church from state, guarantees freedom of conscience to all and thus has remained fertile ground for all religions among them
      Orthodoxy under the auspices of the Moscow Patriarchate;
      [k] on the other hand neither Ukrainian Orthodoxy or Catholicism have not been permitted to develop in Russia [11].

      On May 5, 2009 the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations held a briefing entitled ‘The Outcome and Lessons of World War II and the Present’ at the UN headquarters in New York. The event was opened and presided over by Ilya Rogachev, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN.

      In the course of his presentation and answering questions, Mr. Rogachev praised the Soviet Union and even Josef Stalin, and went out of his way to calumniate contemporary Ukraine and the Baltic states [12]. This presentation was not an aberration, rather another example of contemporary Russia flexing its historical muscles and attacking its neighbors, once within its sphere of influence.

      Indeed Russia has a lengthy history of imperialism and thus Mr. Medvedev’s communication should not surprise. Furthermore, it should concern not only Ukraine, but all countries once within Russia’s sphere of influence and apparently very much within its purview today. Additionally, given the experiences of modern history and relations between the West and Moscow in the past, Mr. Medvedev’s assertions should alarm the West.

      If the West is intent on defending democracy and protecting the world from the second largest nuclear arsenal controlled by what is becoming a rogue regime, then the West must be vigilant.

      Aside from rhetoric, over the last few years Russia has:

      [a] manifested a disregard for democracy within its borders [13],
      [b] displayed arrogance in the face of international opprobrium [14],
      [c] refused to investigate seriously murders within its borders [15] or
      [d] cooperate in solving killings involving Russia abroad [16],
      [e] directed aggression against its own ethnic minorities [17] and
      [f] violated the sovereignty of its neighbors. [18]

      Taking a cue from Ilya Rogachev, let us consider the lessons of World War II, indeed. The war was precipitated by Berlin and Moscow via the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact concluded in Moscow on August 23, 1939, euphemistically referred to as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact which, in essence, conveniently enabled each side to invade territory which each had long desired [19]. This collaborative effort from the Soviet side, in essence, made the USSR the single most significant Nazi collaborator in history.

      The particulars for this conspiracy to perpetrate a crime appeared in the Secret Additional Protocol, not published at the time the Pact was announced, which carved up Eastern Europe with specificity[20] and, in retrospect, outlines what transpired subsequently.

      A further document which should be considered in assessing contemporary Russia’s rhetoric and action in view of historical precedent, is the notorious Yalta Agreement concluded by the apparent victors of World War II in February 1945 - Winston S. Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and J. Stalin.

      The Agreement addressed the imminent defeat of Germany, its occupation and control, reparations by Germany, the convening of a United Nations’ conference, terms of reference for micromanaging by the three parties’ foreign secretaries, some rhetoric on unity of action in peace as in war and most importantly the fate of ‘liberated’ Europe, in particular Poland and Yugoslavia and the other countries.

      The result was that Stalin assumed control over Eastern Europe with power to set up internal conditions, establish governments and oversee elections albeit with input from the US and the UK which subsequently proved minimal [21] and resulted in the ‘cold war.’

      Following Yalta, Winston Churchill wrote how poor Neville Chamberlain had been duped by Hitler, but that he (Churchill) could trust Stalin. However, the sad realty was that even if appeasement was not in the minds of Churchill and Roosevelt, appeasement was the result. Soviet secret archives as well as the accounts of Soviet agents have determined that Winston Churchill came to Yalta in a disadvantageous position.

      The Cambridge Five had provided sufficient information on British thinking well in advance. President Roosevelt was even more vulnerable since he was in failing health (he died two months later).

      Furthermore, the US delegation to Yalta included one Alger Hiss, later proven to have been working for Soviet military intelligence within the US State Department since 1935. Additionally the venue was arranged so that there was no British or American intelligence to speak of.

      Stalin knew what points Churchill and Roosevelt would negotiate and graciously conceded on irrelevant issues, i.e. allowing some democratic individuals into the puppet Polish provisional government since he could ensure their subsequent removal.[22] Churchill and Roosevelt proved to be Yalta’s ‘useful idiots.’

      Contemporary Russian aggression is not limited to rhetoric. For this reason, Medvedev’s letter to Yuschenko should be viewed as a harbinger of further saber rattling and even active aggression. Last year’s Russian invasion of Georgia sent a chill throughout the neighborhood which was felt in the West. The cease fire did little to alleviate the tension. Russian troops remain very much in Georgia despite Russia’s agreement to vacate as part of a cease fire.[23]

      Is the West prepared to respond to Russian aggression? To the contrary, some members of Congress have referred to the post-Soviet world situation as ‘an international disaster.’

      Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged that U.S. policy ‘be directed toward supporting Prime Minister Putin's dream of eventually restoring Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe. A strong Soviet Union provided a counterbalancing force to offset U.S. imperialism,’ Schumer has contended. As a start, Schumer has insisted that all U.S. weapons and personnel be withdrawn from Europe:

      U.S. forces are inhibiting an organic resolution of intra-European relations...The Russians feel powerless and humiliated. The gains they won from
      defeating Hitler have been frittered away by weak leaders and American pressure. A withdrawal of our pressure would give Russia the confidence it
      needs to reassert itself in Eastern Europe—thereby, restoring the region to the status agreed upon at the historic Yalta Conference in 1945. [24]

      On the other hand President Barack Obama gently rebuked Russia for its lack of respect for the sovereignty of its neighbors during his July visit there:

      State sovereignty must be the cornerstone of international order. Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the
      right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy. That is why this principle
      must apply to all nations, including Ukraine. [25]

      Vice President Joseph Biden went further to provide assurances to Ukraine[26] and subsequently to Georgia, underlining US support for their sovereignty and NATO membership during his visit to both countries two weeks later:

      As we reset the relationship with Russia, we reaffirm our commitment to an independent Ukraine. And we recognize no sphere of influence, or no
      ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation makes as to with whom and under what conditions they will associate. We also
      do not believe in zero-sum thinking. We do not believe that a partnership with one nation must come at the expense of another. It has not. It does not,
      and it will not…We reject the notion of spheres of influence as 19th century ideas that have no place in the 21st century. And we stand by the
      principle that sovereign states have a right to make their own decisions, to chart their own foreign policy, to choose their own alliances. President
      Obama, in his speech in Moscow two weeks ago, strongly affirmed this principle…We also re-affirmed the security assurances that the United States,
      Russia and the United Kingdom provided Ukraine in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum…Ukraine has also been a leader in what President Obama and I
      believe is our greatest security challenge -- the greatest security challenge that is facing the world -- and that is reducing the world’s arsenal of
      nuclear weapons, renewing the non-proliferation system, and securing vulnerable nuclear fissile material…The United States also supports Ukraine’s
      deepening ties to NATO and to the European Union….

      Russia’s Interfax reported recently that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has introduced a bill in the Russian parliament that would allow the country's armed forces to intervene beyond Russia's borders. The bill would allow Russian troops to be used abroad ‘to rebuff or prevent an aggression against another state’ or ‘protect Russian citizens abroad’.

      Mr Medvedev said the bill was linked to last year's war with Georgia over South Ossetia. Moscow said it was protecting Russian citizens in South Ossetia.[27] The bill will be debated by the Russian ‘Duma’ in September before passage. However, given the standard of democracy in Russia and the composition of the ‘Duma’, there is little doubt about the outcome.

      The question is not whether Russia will act on its rhetoric, rather how forcefully and expeditiously. What will be the reaction of the West? Senator Schumer and the like in Congress may not be Alger Hiss, but, ‘useful idiots’ nonetheless. Are President Obama and Vice President Biden committed to democracy and freedom? What about our allies? Will principle prevail over historical appeasement?

      Dmitry Medvedev may not be Josef Stalin, but he, certainly, has set off an alarm. His comments may be mendacious to the point of absurdity, annoying and intrusive, still Ukraine, its democratic neighbors and the West dare not dismiss them as raving. We have to be concerned.

      NOTE: Askold S. Lozynskyj is past president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and past president of the Ukrainian World Congress. He is an attorney in New York City.

      [1] Official website of the President of the Russian Federation
      [2] Ukraine’s presidential election is scheduled for January 17, 2010
      [3] Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Russia and Ukraine signed by President Boris Yeltsin and President Leonid Kuchma in 1997 automatically renewed by its terms for an additional 10 years on October 1, 2008.
      [4] In his response President Yuschenko acknowledged the lawful sale of arms by Ukraine to Georgia, pointing out that Georgian arm sales are not precluded by any international sanctions or embargoes (UN, OSCE, EU or others) and that Russia’s attempt to have the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe do so, were denied.
      [5] Twenty year lease for Russian fleet in Sevastopil, Crimea expires on May 28, 2017. Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine does not allow foreign military bases on Ukrainian territory.
      [6] In January 2006 Russia cut off the flow of gas to Europe via Ukrainian pipelines citing a price dispute for supply and transit. Similarly Russia cut off or reduced service to Ukraine in March 2008 and January 2009 resulting in reductions in Europe. At all times Russia controls the flow to Ukraine.
      [7] In 1654 the Ukrainian Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnytsky signed an agreement with Russia assuring Ukrainian autonomy within the protection of the Russian czar. The Russians invaded, systematically took apart the Ukrainian Cossack army and annexed eastern Ukraine to the Russian Empire. In 1939 following Molotov-Ribbentrop the Soviets invaded Western Ukraine and annexed it to the USSR
      [8] The demise of the USSR and the opening of archives have shed light on this matter by revealing the results of the previously suppressed 1937 census. According to the 1937 census, the number of Ukrainians within the USSR in 1937 was 26.4 million almost 5 million less that in 1926, the prior census, a decrease of 16%. The normal growth rate of non-Ukrainians in the USSR from 1926 to 1937 was at a 17% increase. Ukrainians should have numbered 36.5 million in 1937. The conclusion is that between 1926 and 1937, the Ukrainian population within the entire USSR declined by 10.1 million. In assessing the number of actual victims an allowance should be made for children never born to the victims. During that same period the Russian population in the USSR increased by 23%.
      [9]President Yuschenko has honored heroes of Ukraine who struggled against the Russian Czarist empire and those who fought against both the Nazis and the Soviets during World War II. No one honored has been mentioned, let alone made the object of the Nuremberg proceedings or any other war crime investigation.
      [10] There are more than 2000 strictly Russian language schools and almost an additional 2000 bi-lingual Ukrainian and Russian schools all funded by the Ukrainian government. The Russian government funds no Ukrainian language schools.
      [11] There are 7500 churches in Ukraine belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate. There are no Ukrainian church structures in Russia.
      [12] The conference was organized by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations to celebrate the Soviet victory in World War II.
      [13] During the Russian ‘Duma’ elections in December 2007, the presidential party ‘United Russia’ received 70 %, the Communists 13% and all other parties 17%. In the Presidential election of March 2008 Dmitry Medvedev, President Putin’s chosen successor received 70 %, the Communist Zyuganov 18% and Vladimir Zhirinovsky 9%. All others remotely democratic candidates garnered less than 3% combined.
      [14] In response to OSCE criticism that Russia had precluded the OSCE from sending an appropriate number of international observers for Russia’s presidential election, at a press conference President Putin stated: ‘Do not teach us democracy. Teach your wives how to make cabbage soup.’
      [15] Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist-critic of President Putin, shot in a Moscow elevator on October 7, 2006 and numerous others.
      [16] Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who defected, who died in London allegedly as a result of poisoning by a Russian agent on November 23, 2006..
      [17] The most flagrant case is Chechnya. Ingushetia and Tatarstan may be next.
      [18] The most flagrant is Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008. Additionally, Russia has made informally through surrogates and continues to make claims to the Ukrainian Crimea peninsula. Previously, Russia made claim to the Ukrainian Tusla peninsula, but then withdrew.
      [19] The Government of the German Reich and The Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics desirous of strengthening the cause of peace between Germany and the U.S.S.R., and proceeding from the fundamental provisions of the Neutrality Agreement concluded in April, 1926 between Germany and the U.S.S.R., have reached the following Agreement: Article I. Both High Contracting Parties obligate themselves to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action, and any attack on each other, either individually or jointly with other Powers. Article II. Should one of the High Contracting Parties become the object of belligerent action by a third Power, the other High Contracting Party shall in no manner lend its support to this third Power. Article III. The Governments of the two High Contracting Parties shall in the future maintain continual contact with one another for the purpose of consultation in order to exchange information on problems affecting their common interests. Article IV. Should disputes or conflicts arise between the High Contracting Parties neither shall participate in any grouping of Powers whatsoever that is directly or indirectly aimed at the other party. Article V. Should disputes or conflicts arise between the High Contracting Parties over problems of one kind or another, both parties shall settle these disputes or conflicts exclusively through friendly exchange of opinion or, if necessary, through the establishment of arbitration commissions. Article VI. The present Treaty is concluded for a period of ten years, with the proviso that, in so far as one of the High Contracting Parties does not advance it one year prior to the expiration of this period, the validity of this Treaty shall automatically be extended for another five years. Article VII. The present treaty shall be ratified within the shortest possible time. The ratifications shall be exchanged in Berlin. The Agreement shall enter into force as soon as it is possible.
      [20] Article I. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna area is recognized by each party. Article II. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San. The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish States and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments. In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement. Article III. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete political disinteredness in these areas. Article IV. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.
      [21] Declaration on Liberated Europe .The Premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the President of the United States of America have consulted with each other in the common interests of the peoples of their countries and those of liberated Europe. They jointly declare their mutual agreement to concert during the temporary period of instability in liberated Europe the policies of their three Governments in assisting the peoples liberated from the domination of Nazi Germany and the peoples of the former Axis satellite states of Europe to solve by democratic means their pressing political and economic problems. The establishment of order in Europe and the rebuilding of national economic life must be achieved by processes which will enable the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of Nazism and Fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice. This is a principle of the Atlantic Charter -- the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live -- the restoration of sovereign rights and self-government to those peoples who have been forcibly deprived of them by the aggressor Nations. To foster the conditions in which the liberated peoples may exercise these rights, the three Governments will jointly assist the people in any European liberated state or former Axis satellite state in Europe where in their judgment conditions require (a) to establish conditions of internal peace; (b) to carry out emergency measures for the relief of distressed peoples; (c) to form interim governmental authorities broadly representative of all democratic elements in the population and pledged to the earliest possible establishment through free elections of governments responsive to the will of the people; and (d) to facilitate where necessary the holding of such elections. The three Governments will consult the other United Nations and provisional authorities or other Governments in Europe when matters of direct interest to them are under consideration. When, in the opinion of the three Governments, conditions in any European liberated state or any former Axis satellite state in Europe make such action necessary, they will immediately consult together on the measures necessary to discharge the joint responsibilities set forth in this declaration. By this declaration we reaffirm our faith in the principles of the Atlantic Charter, our pledge in the declaration by the United Nations, and our determination to build in cooperation with other peace-loving Nations world order under law, dedicated to peace, security, freedom, and general well-being of all mankind. In issuing this declaration, the three powers express the hope that the Provisional Government of the French Republic may be associated with them in the procedure suggested. Poland A new situation has been created in Poland as a result of her complete liberation by the Red Army. This calls for the establishment of a Polish provisional government which can be more broadly based than was possible before the recent liberation of western Poland. The provisional government which is now functioning in Poland should therefore be reorganized on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from Poles abroad. This new government should then be called the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. M. Molotov, Mr. Harriman, and Sir A. Clark Kerr are authorized as a commission to consult in the first instance in Moscow with members of the present provisional government and with other Polish democratic leaders from within Poland and from abroad, with a view to the reorganization of the present government along the above lines. This Polish Provisional Government of National Unity shall be pledged to the holding of free and unfettered elections as soon as possible on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot. In these elections all democratic anti-Nazi parties shall have the right to take part and to put forward candidates. When a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity has been properly formed in conformity with the above, the Government of the U.S.S.R., which now maintains diplomatic relations with the present provisional government of Poland, and the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the U.S.A. will establish diplomatic relations with the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, and will exchange ambassadors by whose reports the respective Governments will be kept informed about the situation in Poland. The three heads of government consider that the eastern frontier of Poland should follow the Curzon line with digressions from it in some regions of five to eight kilometers in favor of Poland. They recognized that Poland must receive substantial accessions of territory in the North and West. They feel that the opinion of the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity should be sought in due course on the extent of these accessions and that the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should thereafter await the peace conference. Yugoslavia We have agreed to recommend to Marshal Tito and Dr. Subasic that the agreement between them should be put into effect immediately, and that a new government should be formed on the basis of that agreement. We also recommend that as soon as the new government has been formed it should declare that: 1. The anti-Fascist Assembly of National Liberation (Avnoj) should be extended to include members of the last Yugoslav Parliament (Skupschina) who have not compromised themselves by collaboration with the enemy, thus forming a body to be known as a temporary Parliament; and, 2. Legislative acts passed by the anti-Fascist Assembly of National Liberation will be subject to subsequent ratification by a constituent assembly.
      [22] Andrew, Christopher and Mitrokhin, Vasili, ‘The Sword and the Shield, The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB’, Basic Books, 1999
      [23] The New York Times, April 2, 2009 ‘Russia Keeps Troops in Georgia, Defying Deal’: Nearly eight months after the war between Russia and Georgia, Russian troops continue to hold Georgian territory that the Kremlin agreed to vacate as part of a formal cease-fire, leaving a basic condition of that agreement unfulfilled...Observers and diplomats say Russia has also used attack helicopters and stationed tanks in areas where none existed before the war. The sustained Russian military presence on land captured last summer — evident during two recent days spent in the area by two reporters — provides a backdrop of lingering disagreement between the West and Russia at a crucial time: The Obama administration is pledging to recalibrate the relationship with Russia, restore cooperation in other areas and explore a new treaty on nuclear arms. It also underscores the strength of Russia’s military position in the southern Caucasus and its enduring confidence in undermining President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia and standing up to the West, even as Mr. Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia have signaled an intention to improve relations. Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev met on Wednesday, and exchanged warm remarks and pledges to cooperate, raising questions in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, about whether the United States would push to have the cease-fire plan fully honored. Under the conditions of the cease-fire, the armed forces of all sides were to return to the positions they held before the war, which erupted Aug. 7. The agreement required a cessation of fighting, corridors for aid delivery and no use of force. It also granted Russia a loosely defined permission to take further security measures while waiting for international monitors. In the weeks after open hostilities ended, Russia did withdraw many armored and infantry units to prewar boundaries, including units posted along Georgia’s main highway and or near Georgia’s military bases. The withdrawal eventually allowed many displaced Georgian civilians to return to villages that had been behind the Russian positions. But even though European monitors have long been on the ground, Russia still holds large areas that had irrefutably been under Georgian control, and thousands of Georgians have not been allowed free access to homes far from the disputed territory where the war began. Several areas under Russian control are at odds with the terms of the cease-fire plan. The most obvious examples are in the Kodori Gorge and the agricultural valley outside the town of Akhalgori — two large parcels of land dotted with Georgian villages that were partly deserted over the winter. No Russian forces were in either place before last August. Russian armor remains in defensive positions on the road to Akhalgori, blocking access to the valley beyond. The checkpoint is jointly administered by Russia and South Ossetia, and the senior official present during a visit last week by two The New York Times journalists identified himself as a Russian Army major.Russia also holds a fortified position and checkpoint at Perevi, and an observation post near the village of Orkhosani that overlooks Georgia’s highway. Further, in recent months, Russia has conducted military patrols on territory it did not hold, landing helicopter-borne units just behind the boundary, according to the European Union Monitoring Mission, which was established after the war. The Russian military also conducts aviation patrols just inside the line with helicopter gunships, the monitoring mission said, and has built a military highway through the mountains linking the Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, with Akhalgori. The Russian government declined multiple requests to explain the composition and roles of its forces. Gilles Janvier, deputy head of the European monitoring mission, said in an interview that Russia had told diplomats that it had entered its own military agreement with the two breakaway regions in Georgia, which the Kremlin recognizes as independent states, and that these newer arrangements rendered the troop withdrawal component of the cease-fire plan obsolete. ‘They say there is now a new bilateral agreement between them and South Ossetian and Abkhaz forces that lets them station troops,’ Mr. Janvier said. The posture has frustrated diplomats and the Georgian government alike. A senior American official said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton raised the subject in her meeting in early March with Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, to no apparent effect.
      [24] Schumer, Charles, ‘Russia Can Be Part of the Answer on Iran’, The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2008 24 Moscow, July 7, 2009 at the New Economic School graduation in Gostiny Dvor.
      [25] Moscow, July 7, 2009 at the New Economic School graduation in Gostiny Dvor.
      [26] Kyiv, Ukraine, July 22, 2009 Ukraine House.
      [27] Sochi, Russia, August 10, 2009, meeting with Russia’s largest political parties, reported by various news services.


      Lynn Berry, Associated Press, Moscow, Russia, Sunday, August 30, 2009

      MOSCOW - Seventy years ago Sunday, the Soviet Union signed a pact with Nazi Germany that gave dictator Josef Stalin a free hand to take over part of Poland and the Baltic states on the eve of World War II.

      Most of the world now condemns the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, but Russia has mounted a new defense of the 1939 treaty as it seeks to restore some of its now-lost sphere of influence.

      ‘This is all being rehabilitated because this is now a very lively issue for Russia,’ said military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. ‘This is not about history at all.’
      The pact, formally a treaty of nonaggression, was signed Aug. 23, 1939, in Moscow by Vyacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop, the foreign ministers of the two countries.

      In addition to the pledge of nonaggression, the treaty included secret protocols that divided Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.
      On Sept. 1, Germany invaded Poland - thus igniting World War II - and within weeks the Red Army had marched in from the east. After claiming its part of Poland, the Soviet Union then annexed part of Finland, the Baltic states and the Romanian region that is now Moldova.

      Molotov's grandson and namesake, Vyacheslav Nikonov, said his grandfather saw a deal with Nazi Germany as the only alternative after a failure to reach a military agreement with Britain and France.

      The Soviet government was convinced that a Nazi attack on Poland was imminent and ‘we needed to know where the Germans were going to stop,’ Nikonov said. The pact also bought needed time for the country to prepare for war, he said.

      He said his grandfather later criticized aspects of Stalin's leadership, including the purges, but he stood by the pact for the rest of his life.
      ‘He said there were many, many mistakes done by the Soviet leadership, he regrets many lives,’ said Nikonov, who was 30 when his grandfather died in 1986 and knew him well. ‘Molotov never considered Molotov-Ribbentrop as something he would regret.’

      The Soviet Union officially denied the existence of the secret protocols for decades. They were only formally acknowledged and denounced in 1989.
      But as the 70th anniversary of the treaty has approached, some Russian historians have stepped up to vociferously defend the Soviet Union's decision to expand its territory at the expense of its neighbors.

      The Foreign Intelligence Service, once part of the KGB, published a book of declassified intelligence reports to make the case that the nonaggression treaty and its secret protocols were justified and essential to the victory over the Nazis.

      Retired Maj. Gen. Lev Sotskov, who compiled the book, said the pact allowed the Soviet Union to ‘move its borders with Germany’ to the West. This prevented the Baltic states of Lithuanian, Latvia and Estonia of becoming a staging ground for an attack, he told journalists.

      Even so, when Nazi Germany did attack in June 1941, all the territory the Soviet Union had gained was lost in a matter of weeks. At the end of the war, however, U.S. and British leaders accepted the borders of the Soviet Union as defined by the treaty with Germany. This in effect restored the borders of the Russian Empire.

      The Allied leaders also allowed Stalin to extend the Soviet Union's sphere of influence throughout much of eastern and central Europe. The current attempt to justify the carving up of Europe during World War II comes as Russia once again is trying to establish its sphere of influence.


      By Clifford J. Levy, The New York Times, New York, NY, Thu, Aug 27, 2009

      SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — A year after its war with Georgia, Russia is engaging in an increasingly hostile standoff with another pro-Western neighbor, Ukraine.

      Relations between the two countries are more troubled than at any time since the Soviet collapse, as both sides resort to provocations and recriminations. And it is here on the Crimean Peninsula, home to a Russian naval base, where the tensions are perhaps most in danger of bursting into open conflict.

      Late last month, the Ukrainian police briefly detained Russian military personnel who were driving truckloads of missiles through this port cit<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.