Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have protested moves in Russia they say are a whitewashing of historical facts about the 1939 nonagression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany that led to their annexation by Moscow.
Known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the accord and its secret protocols divided Central and Eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence.
The foreign ministries of the three Baltic states on June 18 summoned Russian ambassadors and representatives to express concerns about historical revisionism in a recent legislative initiative by lawmakers in Russia's State Duma.
If approved, the legislation would revoke a December 24, 1989, resolution by the Soviet Union's Supreme Council that condemned the nonagression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Poland was jointly invaded and then divided between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
The pact also led in 1940 to the Soviet occupation and annexation of the three Baltic states -- which did not regain their independence until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In a lengthy essay published on June 18 in the U.S.-based journal National Interest, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected criticism of Soviet cooperation with Nazi Germany at the start of World War II.
"The blame for the tragedy that Poland then suffered lies entirely with the Polish leadership, which had impeded the formation of a military alliance between Britain, France, and the Soviet Union and relied on the help from its Western partners, throwing its own people under the steamroller of Hitler's machine of destruction," Putin wrote.
Putin reiterated Moscow's contention that the Soviet Union was forced into signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact after Western powers rejected the creation of a military alliance against Nazi Germany.
"The Soviet Union did its utmost to use every chance of creating an anti-Hitler coalition. Despite -- I will say it again -- the double dealing on the part of the Western countries," Putin wrote.
Putin also took issue with a European Union resolution adopted in September 2019 as the world marked the 80th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
The EU resolution states that 1939 pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany "paved the way for the outbreak of World War II."
Putin said the EU resolution failed to mention an agreement reached with Nazi Germany in Munich in 1938 by Britain, France, and Italy that allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland in what was then western Czechoslovakia.
Referring to the agreement as the "Munich Betrayal," Putin said it "destroyed even the formal, fragile guarantees that remained on the continent" and showed that "mutual agreements were worthless."
"It was the Munich Betrayal that served as a 'trigger' and made the great war in Europe inevitable," Putin said, accusing European politicians, and Polish leaders in particular, of wanting to sweep the Munich deal under the carpet.
Draft legislation to revoke the Soviet Union's 1989 condemnation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was submitted in the State Duma on May 27.
The State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously backed the bill on June 9 and submitted it for further consideration.
The foreign ministers of the three Baltic states agreed in Vilnius on June 15 to simultaneously summon Russian ambassadors to discuss their concerns about historical revisionism by authorities in Russia.