Putin rejects blaming Stalin for start of World War II

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Jordan’s King Abdullah II during their meeting in the Black Sea resort of in Sochi, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected claims that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union share responsibility for starting World War II.

Two weeks after Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, with Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin carving up Poland and the Baltic states based on a secret protocol. Russian officials claim Moscow was forced into the move by the West’s failure to stand up to Hitler’s aggression.

Speaking at an international affairs conference Thursday in the southern Russian city of Sochi, Putin said Stalin’s purges marked a “dark page” in Russia’s history. But he rejected the notion that Stalin shared responsibility for starting WWII as “the height of cynicism.” He also highlighted the decisive role that the Soviet Union played in defeating the Nazis.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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