Today is the seventieth anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocol.
The main (& public) part of the pact was signed on the 23rd of August 1939, nine days before the German invasion of Poland which marked the beginnning of the Second World War. The public part of the pact was a non-aggression agreement between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. In the secret protocol, the sides carved Europe up into two 'spheres of influence', with each side agreeing to allow the other free reign within its sphere.
Poland , Czechoslovakia, Hungary and most of Romania were included in Germany's sphere, while Basarabia (more or less today's Republic of Moldova) and the Baltic states were included in that of the Soviet Union.
In June 1940, Western Europe was overrun by Nazi forces and distracted from events in the Eastern part of the continent. Stalin seized the opportunity and ordered the Romanian Army and administration out of Basarabia. The 'Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic' was established on much of the territory a month later, while other parts (Bujeac and Bucovina) were transferred to Ukraine. Similar events took place in the Baltics.
Revisionist Russian historians are currently claiming that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was a necessary instrument designed to provide security to the Soviet Union. Some go further, continuing to promote the Soviet lie that the Baltics and Basarabia asked to join the Union.
As a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact the peoples of the Baltic republics and of Basarabia were condemned to 45 years of soviet communism and (in Moldova's case) a further 18 years of crony capitalism. The Soviet Union's refusal to enter the war on the side of the allies in September 1939 lead to the overrunning of both Western and Central Europe by the Nazis. The British in particular have cause for complaint, being left alone to fight the German war machine for a year after the fall of France on the 22nd of June 1940.
The saddest thing of all about the pact is that it didn't even keep the Soviet Union safe; within two years of signing German troops were on Russian soil, besieging Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad.
All in all, Molotov-Ribbentrop was a complete failure. Modern Russia needs to acknowledge this and work constructively alongside other powers to undo its continuing negative outcomes.