Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact

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The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact or the Nazi German–Soviet Pact of Aggression (officially: Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively. The pact was followed by the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement in February 1940.

The pact delineated the spheres of interest between the two powers, confirmed by the supplementary protocol of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty amended after the joint invasion of Poland. It remained in force for nearly two years, until the German government of Adolf Hitler ended the pact by launching an attack on the Soviet positions in Eastern Poland during Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941.

The clauses of the Nazi-Soviet Pact provided a written guarantee of non-belligerence by each party towards the other, and a declared commitment that neither government would ally itself to, or aid, an enemy of the other party. In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol that divided territories of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania into German and Soviet "spheres of influence", anticipating "territorial and political rearrangements" of these countries. Thereafter, Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin ordered the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September, one day after a Soviet-Japanese ceasefire at the Khalkhin Gol came into effect. In March 1940, parts of the Karelia and Salla regions in Finland were annexed by the Soviet Union after the Winter War. This was followed by Soviet annexations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and parts of Romania (Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and the Hertza region). Advertised concern about ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians had been proffered as justification for the Soviet invasion of Poland. Stalin's invasion of Bukovina in 1940 violated the pact, as it went beyond the Soviet sphere of influence agreed with the Axis.

The territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union after the 1939 Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland remained in the USSR at the end of World War II. The new border was set up along the Curzon Line. Only the region around Białystok and a small part of Galicia east of the San river around Przemyśl were returned to the Polish state from that line. Of all other territories annexed by the USSR in 1939–40, the ones detached from Finland (Karelia, Petsamo), Estonia (Ingrian area and Petseri County) and Latvia (Abrene) remain part of the Russian Federation, the successor state of the USSR upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The territories annexed from Romania had also been integrated into the Soviet Union (as the Moldavian SSR, or oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR); nowadays, the core of Bessarabia forms Moldova, while the northern part of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and Hertza form the Chernivtsi Oblast of Ukraine, and Southern Bessarabia is part of the Odessa Oblast, also in Ukraine.

After the war, von Ribbentrop was convicted of war crimes and executed. Molotov died aged 96 in 1986, five years before the USSR's dissolution.

The existence of the secret protocol was denied by the Soviet government until 1989, when it was finally acknowledged and denounced. Vladimir Putin while condemning the pact as 'immoral' has also defended the pact as a necessary evil.

The outcome of World War I was disastrous for both the German Reich and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. During the war, the Bolsheviks struggled for survival, and Vladimir Lenin recognised the independence of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Moreover, facing a German military advance, Lenin and Trotsky were forced to enter into the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which ceded massive western Russian territories to the German Empire. After Germany's collapse, a multinational Allied-led army intervened in the Russian Civil War (1917–22).

On 16 April 1922, Germany and the Soviet Union entered the Treaty of Rapallo, pursuant to which they renounced territorial and financial claims against each other. Each party further pledged neutrality in the event of an attack against the other with the 1926 Treaty of Berlin. While trade between the two countries fell sharply after World War I, trade agreements signed in the mid-1920s helped to increase trade to 433 million Reichsmarks per year by 1927.

This page was last edited on 21 June 2018, at 17:21 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov%E2%80%93Ribbentrop_Pact under CC BY-SA license.

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