Hi Kaninchen. My main point in quoting the aforementioned article was to show that in Putin’s Russia’s official history, one should not equate Nazism with Communism as equally bloody totalitarian regimes, which I find erroneous. I wasn’t going into judging the strategic thinking behind the Pact, but merely pointing out how Putin is emphasizing of late an official Russian policy of whitewashing Stalinism.
But, as for alternatives, the Pact accomplished little for the Russians I would argue other than to provide an opportunity to carve up Eastern Europe with Hitler. Stalin already knew in the summer of 1939 that England and France had pledged to defend Poland. He surely should have known that a German attack on Poland would bring England and France into war against Germany. As Richard Overy has pointed out in The Dictators, in August of 1939 Hitler hesitated over attacking Poland for fear of the West, postponing the attack date. It was only the Non-Aggression Pact that convinced Hitler he could start World War Two.
If anyone was responsible for the Soviet Union’s weak military stance at the time, it was Stalin himself who had decimated the Soviet High Command in the purges of the late 1930s. Stalin was Russia’s own worst enemy. And one must not forget that between 1939-1941, it was Soviet oil and grain supplied in abundance to the Third Reich that assisted the Nazis in killing the English and French '39-'41.
After the Pact, Stalin took little advantage in preparing the country for any war with Nazi Germany. David Murphy in What Stalin Knew writes persuasively:
“The field fortifications along the former border, vital to the Red Army’s forward force posture, were dismantled and a new fortified line along the new frontier [Pact border] was never completed. In the wrangling over this issue, Stalin insisted on keeping the first echelons close to the new border despite the lack of defensive structures, a fatal misjudgment. He refused to consider the defensive strategy urged on him by men like Marshal Shaposhnikov, who strongly believed Soviet defenses should take advantage of the fortifications along the pre-1939 border, thereby providing defense in depth” (pg.xvii)
And as for why the Pact should not be commemorated by Russia:
“In dealing with the Poles Stalin had Hitler’s full cooperation…both planned to reduce the Polish population to a subservient minority. Hitler, unlike Stalin, had singled out Polish Jews for extermination, but his ‘Aktion A-B’ to reduce the Polish intelligentsia and military to insignificance was halfhearted compared with Stalin and Beria’s [secret police head]. Some 400,000 inhabitants of pre-1939 Poland – Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, and some Belorussians – were deported east to camps and hard labor in three major operations during 1940. One in six died in their first year of exile. The deportees, however, were luckier than those Poles detained in camps in western Russia [the Katyn Massacres].”
Donald Rayfield Stalin and His Hangmen, pg.373