The pact was a geopolitical agreement that was meant to avoid a war between the two powers that began regardless. While most people know of the deal to split Poland in two there were other geopolitical land grabs as well. The USSR was allowed to do a massive land grab against Finland, Romania, and the all of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The latter came as a surprised to the Germans who expect the USSR to allow Lithuania to rejoin a realm of German influence.
The treaty lasted less than two years. Both Hitler and Stalin had plans to break it since the start. The Eastern Front aka the Great Patriotic War was by far the bloodiest section of World War II. Even before the Soviets took Berlin, an ailing Roosevelt, mostly blind to the evils of Stalin, gave all of Eastern Europe to the Soviets for a sphere of influence. The evils of Molotov-Ribbentrop were magnified by Yalta and later Potsdam.
While the Pact is viewed as an alliance between evils in the West, Russia has defended the pact. Moscow states the pact was necessary to keep the peace and it was not a deal between two imperial powers hungry for land. Disagreeing with Russia's point of view may be an international crime, according to Russia.
When it comes to crimes of the past there seems to be three categories
- Some countries admit shame like Germany
- Some countries still try to draw positive lessons like Japan
- Other countries merely spin and embrace their actions like Russia.
Molotov-Ribbentrop deeply impacted the landscape of Central and Eastern Europe. Sadly, it was not the first nor last pact to harm so many.