Kremlin May Not Renounce Pact That Carved Up Europe

January 24, 2005

The Associated Press The Kremlin said Saturday that the 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact between the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that divided much of Eastern Europe can only be re-evaluated historically, indicating Moscow does not support annulling the treaty.
Estonian President Arnold Ruutel raised expectations that the Kremlin would renounce the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact during this year’s 60th anniversary celebrations of the Nazi defeat in World War II — a symbolic move long sought by the three Baltic nations placed in the Soviet sphere of control under the secret treaty.

Ruutel told Estonian radio that President Vladimir Putin had told him during a Kremlin meeting that Russia, as the legal successor of the Soviet Union, considered annulling the 1939 nonaggression pact “the right thing to do.”

The Kremlin initially refused to comment, but Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s deputy press secretary, said Saturday: “At present, only the historical evaluation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is possible. There is no possibility of its juridical evaluation due to current realities.”

He did not elaborate, but the statement appeared to extinguish hopes in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which joined the European Union last year, that the pact might be annulled during Moscow’s May celebrations. The pact, named for Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, carved up much of Eastern Europe between the two countries. Russia has invited the three Baltic leaders to Moscow on May 9 for World War II anniversary celebrations, but only one, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, has agreed to participate, and she has called on
Russia to denounce the pact.

Peskov said that “from the Russian point of view, the best step in the development of Russian-Estonian relations would be the signing of a political declaration on the fundamentals of relations and a border delineation treaty” during the 60th anniversary celebrations.