The Russian president has deviated from his own previous position—as well as that of his Soviet and post-Soviet predecessors—by trying to paint the 1939 Nazi-Soviet alliance in a positive light. Timothy Snyder discusses the significance of this shift, and notes its implications vis-à-vis the history of the Jews:
On August 20, 1939 Hitler asked Stalin for a meeting, and Stalin was more than happy to agree. For five years the Soviet leader had been seeking an occasion to destroy Poland, and now one had arrived. Stalin understood, of course, that he was making an arrangement with the most important anti-Semite in the world to destroy the largest homeland of European Jews. Stalin had made preparations for the alliance with Hitler, kowtowing like so many other leaders to [the latter’s] anti-Semitism. In the hope of attracting Hitler’s attention, he had fired his Jewish commissar for foreign affairs, Maxim Litvinov, and replaced him with the Russian [non-Jew] Vyacheslav Molotov. The dismissal of Litvinov, according to Hitler, was “decisive.” It would be Molotov who would negotiate an agreement with Hitler’s minister of foreign affairs, Joachim von Ribbentrop, in Moscow on August 23, 1939. . . .
Stalin famously said that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was an alliance “signed in blood.” Much of the blood shed in the lands concerned by the agreement would be that of Jewish civilians.
More about: Adolf Hitler, History & Ideas, Joseph Stalin, Nazi-Soviet Pact, Russia, Vladimir Putin, World War II