Signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
© Global Look PressSigning of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Recently released papers shed new light on the infamous non-aggression pact between the USSR and the Nazis. It was allegedly the West's enmity and a potential alliance between Poland and Germany that forced Moscow's hand.

The Russian Defense Ministry has published a batch of historical documents in the wake of the 80th anniversary of the agreement that is also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The agreement has been a target of steady criticism for Western nations for quite some time.

It was even mentioned by Poland and some other Eastern European nations as an excuse for not inviting Russia's President Vladimir Putin to the 80th anniversary of WWII in September. While Western nations are relentlessly harping on about the agreement, the newly-released papers show that the Soviet Union had little choice but to sign it.

One of the most remarkable documents in the batch is a 1938 top-secret hand-written report by the head of the Soviet General Staff, Army Commander First Rank Boris Shaposhnikov, where he assessed the possible military threats the USSR could face in the near future.

A potential alliance between Nazi Germany and Poland plays a central role in his assessment. Shaposhnikov names Poland among the nations that "have set sights on pushing political relations with the USSR towards a military conflict," alongside with Germany, Italy, and Japan.

"Poland is already [drawn] into the orbit of the Fascist bloc while seeking to demonstrate supposed independence of its foreign policy," he says in a report designed only to be seen by Soviet leaders. The chief of the General Staff also warns that Germany and Poland together could field far more troops and military hardware than the Soviet Union could deploy to its western borders, while potentially drawing the Baltic States and Finland into the war against the USSR as well.

In fact, Shaposhnikov might have had good reason to believe what he said. Poland signed its own non-aggression pact with the Nazis back in 1934, some five years before the USSR did. In addition, Warsaw not only recognized the legitimacy of Czechoslovakia's partitioning by the Nazis under the no-less-infamous 1938 Munich agreement, but also bit off a chunk of its territory under the same accord.

The actions of the UK and France did not appear to be reassuring for Moscow either. Shaposhnikov describes their policy as "hesitant and dubious," and assumed that they could at some point strike a deal with Hitler, potentially leaving the USSR on its own in a state of war with a half of Europe.

The conclusions made by the top brass appeared to be in line with what the Soviet diplomats saw in London and Paris. One of them, Ivan Maisky, a former Soviet ambassador to the UK, wrote in his memoirs that the British government in the late 1930s was hell-bent on pitting the Nazis against the USSR while flirting with both Hitler and his ally, the Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

In one of his memoirs, first published in the USSR in 1966 and now released once again by the Defense Ministry, Maisky recalls how Neville Chamberlain, a British Prime Minister between 1937 and 1940, said to his face that London sees the USSR as its "enemy."

The Soviet Union was one of the most consistent opponents of Hitler's aggressive policies in Europe and called for a broad international coalition against the Nazis. It even sought to form a security alliance in Europe by signing mutual assistance pacts with France and Czechoslovakia in 1935.

Yet, its hopes were eventually dashed by the 1938 Munich agreement, which saw one of its "allies," France, giving consent to the partition of fellow "ally," Czechoslovakia. However, the West has now seemingly forgotten about its own controversial policies during the pre-WWII period while loudly claiming that it was the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that "doomed half of Europe to decades of misery."