VOA and RFE/RL fail to report online in English on Putin’s defense of Nazi-Soviet Pact

BBG Watch Media

During the Cold War, both Voice of America (VOA) and particularly Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) would be the place to go for timely news and in-depth analysis of major Soviet news, especially those involving distortion of history, disinformation and propaganda. But when President Vladimir Putin defended the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact in his remarks during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow on Sunday, neither VOA nor RFE/RL English news websites mentioned his self-serving comments, which many, especially in Europe, found highly disturbing.

Chancellor Merkel immediately challenged Putin on his historical claims. (RFE/RL reported in English that Merkel’s response critical of Russia’s “criminal” annexation of Crimea was not translated by the official Russian interpreter, but, amazingly, RFE/RL did not mention in its report that her statement followed Putin’s defense of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet agreement.)

Having failed to even report on President Putin’s defense of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, neither voanews.com nor rferl.org news English language websites provided any analysis or reactions, which would have been both expected and delivered promptly during the Cold War. (RFE/RL Russian Service did offer Monday an analysis on its Russian language website, while VOA Russian Service simply reported briefly Monday on Putin’s remarks without offering any U.S. reactions or expert analysis.)

[After criticism from BBG Watch, RFE/RL eventually posted a report in English in 2015 two days later.]

Reporting on and analyzing of Putin’s stunning historical claims from the Western perspective for English speaking international audiences was left by U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasters to private U.S. and foreign media, including Kremlin controlled outlets such as SPUTNIK International.

One of the best analyses came from Leonid Bershidsky a Berlin-based Russian writer and journalist who is is a Bloomberg View columnist. His op-ed, “Why Putin Treats Fantasy as History,” described how a secret addendum to the Soviet-German non-aggression pact, signed by Soviet and Nazi Germany foreign ministers, Vyacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop, on August 23, 1939, divided Poland and the Baltic states between the two countries and gave Stalin leave to grab part of Romania.

Bershidsky’s article was picked up by a number of English language newspapers and websites in the U.S. and internationally. In the past, such analyses would have been provided promptly by VOA, or more likely by RFE/RL.

This was not the first time President Putin defended the Nazi-Soviet Pact. In September 2014, the British Guardian published an op-ed by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius titled, “Putin has defended the Nazi-Soviet pact. Time for the west to wake up.” Linkevičius wrote, “It was the pact that led to world war two. Western democracies must no longer turn a blind eye to Putin the aggressor.” Both RFE/RL and to a lesser degree VOA had reported in English on some of Putin’s previous distortions of Soviet history, but not this time.

Despite the lack of any English-language analysis from the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on President Putin’s latest defense of the Nazi-Soviet agreement, many U.S. and international media outlets found it important to report on his remarks. Some offered analysis, but generally not from U.S. historians or U.S. foreign policy experts. That should have been VOA’s job.

The Chicago Tribune reposted online Leonid Bershidsky’s Bloomberg article. As excellent as his analysis was, he is not an American expert or commentator.

The Washington Post had an online analysis by its Moscow bureau chief Michael Birnbaum, “A day after marking Nazi defeat, Putin praises a Soviet-era pact with Hitler.”

Paul Goble, a leading U.S. expert on Russian propaganda who used to work for RFE/RL, VOA, and for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees both media entities, wrote Tuesday that according to a former analyst for Russia’s SVR intelligence service and a current consultant to RT and other Kremlin media outlets, Russian military strategists are once again talking about “a preventive occupation” of the Baltic countries, “As in 1939, Kremlin Said Mulling ‘Preventive Occupation’ of the Baltic States.” Goble wrote that while such speculations may seem far-fetched, “they are intended simultaneously to test the waters of public opinion and expand the limits of what people consider permissible.”

Internationally, The Japan Times and India Gazette picked up Leonid Bershidsky’s commentary. Gulf Times ran AFP report, “Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact.”

VOA and RFE/RL were nowhere to be seen on this important story in their English language online content. No news reports, and no U.S. reactions or analysis. Voice of America and especially Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty were created for responding to and analyzing disinformation by governments and leaders of countries like Russia. At least that’s what U.S. taxpayers expect them to do in today’s global media market in which English news reporting and objective analysis play an increasingly important role. Unfortunately, they both failed.

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Why Putin treats fantasy as history

India Gazette – ‎7 hours ago‎
Why Putin treats fantasy as history. The Japan Times Wednesday 13th May, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest attempt to justify the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which allowed Germany and the Soviet Union to divide up Poland in 1939, …

Why Putin treats fantasy as history

The Japan Times – ‎16 hours ago‎
BERLIN – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest attempt to justify the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which allowed Germany and the Soviet Union to divide up Poland in 1939, holds a clue to the Kremlin’s behavior in the Ukraine crisis. Here’s what …

Putin Justifies Soviet Union’s Pact With Nazi Germany

theTrumpet.com – ‎22 hours ago‎
Over the weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact the Soviet Union made with Hitler’s Nazi Germany just days before World War ii broke out. “This pact made sense in terms of guaranteeing the Soviet …

Russian President Putin works to rehabilitate Soviet history

Minneapolis Star Tribune – ‎May 11, 2015‎
“When the Soviet Union realized that it was left to face Hitler’s Germany on its own, it acted to try to avoid a direct confrontation, and this resulted in signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,” Putin told a reporter on Sunday. “This pact did make sense in terms of …

Vladimir Putin’s imaginary wars

iPolitics.ca (subscription) – ‎May 11, 2015‎
President Vladimir Putin’s latest attempt to justify the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which allowed Germany and the Soviet Union to divide up Poland in 1939, holds a clue to the Kremlin’s behaviour in the Ukraine crisis. Here’s what Putin said after …

A day after marking Nazi defeat, Putin praises a Soviet-era pact with Hitler

Salt Lake Tribune – ‎May 11, 2015‎
“When the Soviet Union realized that it was left to face Hitler’s Germany on its own, it acted to try to avoid a direct confrontation, and this resulted in signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,”Putin told a reporter on Sunday who asked about the agreement.

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Tengrinews – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

A day after marking Nazi defeat, Putin praises a Soviet-era pact with Hitler

Washington Post (blog) – ‎May 11, 2015‎
“When the Soviet Union realized that it was left to face Hitler’s Germany on its own, it acted to try to avoid a direct confrontation, and this resulted in signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,”Putin told a reporter on Sunday who asked about the agreement.

Putin’s amazing gift for shutting out reality

Chicago Tribune – ‎May 11, 2015‎
During Putin’s 15-year rule, the official line on the Molotov- Ribbentrop pact has gone back to the Soviet version, a remarkable feat of selective memory. That fits Putin’sgeneral approach to the Soviet past, in which he erases anything that doesn’t fit his …

Putin Defends Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in Press Conference with Merkel

The Moscow Times – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939’s Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow’s response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations. At the close of his Sunday meeting …

Leonid Bershidsky: Putin uses ‘reality management’ to whitewash Moscow’s 

National Post – ‎May 11, 2015‎
President Vladimir Putin’s latest attempt to justify the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which allowed Germany and the Soviet Union to divide up Poland in 1939, holds a clue to the Kremlin’s behaviour in the Ukraine crisis. Here’s what Putin said after …

Why Putin Treats Fantasy as History

Bloomberg View – ‎May 11, 2015‎
During Putin’s 15-year rule, the official line on the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact has gone back to the Soviet version, a remarkable feat of selective memory. That fits Putin’sgeneral approach to the Soviet past, in which he erases anything that doesn’t fit his …

Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact aimed to assure USSR security – Putin

Interfax – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin shares the opinion of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky that there was a point in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact for Soviet security. “There was a point in this pact for providing Soviet security. That is the first thing,” the …

Vladimir Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Raw Story – ‎May 11, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin says Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact aimed to assure USSR security

Kyiv Post – ‎May 11, 2015‎
MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin shares the opinion of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky that there was a point in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact for Soviet security. Announcement To Readers. Since 1995, the Kyiv Post has been the …

Putin Defends Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in Press Conference with Merkel

The Moscow Times – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939’s Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow’s response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations. At the close of his Sunday meeting …

Putin Defends Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in Press Conference with Merkel

The Moscow Times – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939’s Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow’s response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations. At the close of his Sunday meeting …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Gulf Times – ‎May 11, 2015‎
“From my point of view, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is hard to understand unless you take into consideration the extra secret protocol. And from this point of view, I consider it was not right, it was done on an unlawful basis,” Merkel said in translated comments …

Putin Defends Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in Press Conference with Merkel

The Moscow Times – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939’s Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow’s response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations. At the close of his Sunday meeting …

Putin Defends Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in Press Conference with Merkel

The Moscow Times – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939’s Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow’s response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations. At the close of his Sunday meeting …

Putin Defends Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in Press Conference with Merkel

The Moscow Times – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939’s Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow’s response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations. At the close of his Sunday meeting …

Putin justifies Soviet-Nazi pact

EUobserver – ‎May 11, 2015‎
Speaking after Putin, Merkel noted that besides being a non-aggression pact, the the Molotov-Ribbentrop accord was also an agreement to dismantle Poland. “From my point of view, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is hard to understand unless you take into …

Putin defends Nazi-Soviet pact

thenews.pl – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said in Moscow after being pressed on the matter by a German journalist. “This pact …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

New Vision – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“Today we understand that any form of agreement with the Nazi regime was unacceptable from the moral point of view and had no chance of being realised,” Putin wrote in a 2009 article in a Polish daily on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Notorious Nazi-Soviet Pact Played Important Role, Defends Putin

malaysiandigest.com – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,” Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Notorious Nazi-Soviet Pact Played Important Role, Defends Putin

malaysiandigest.com – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,” Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Notorious Nazi-Soviet pact played important role, defends Putin

Malay Mail Online – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Vladimir Putin Defends Notorious Nazi-Soviet Pact

NDTV – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“Today we understand that any form of agreement with the Nazi regime was unacceptable from the moral point of view and had no chance of being realised,” Putin wrote in a 2009 article in a Polish daily on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Business Recorder (press release) (blog) – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Yahoo7 News – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

 

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Arab News – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realized that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Business Recorder (press release) (blog) – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

i24news – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realized that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Yahoo News – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Digital Journal – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Yahoo News UK – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Yahoo! Maktoob News – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin Defends Notorious Nazi-Soviet Pact During Merkel Visit

Outlook – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“Today we understand that any form of agreement with the Nazi regime was unacceptable from the moral point of view and had no chance of being realised,” Putin wrote in a 2009 article in a Polish daily on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Vladimir Putin Defends Notorious Nazi-Soviet Pact

The New Indian Express – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,” Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Business Standard – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“Today we understand that any form of agreement with the Nazi regime was unacceptable from the moral point of view and had no chance of being realised,” Putin wrote in a 2009 article in a Polish daily on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Zee News – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler`s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,” Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Times LIVE – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

The Times of Israel (blog) – ‎May 10, 2015‎
Putin had, in the past condemned, the pact as unethical. On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to carve up eastern Europe between them in a secret clause of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on non-aggression. “When the USSR realized …

Putin defends notorious Nazi-Soviet pact

Rappler – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“When the USSR realized that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,”Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist. He was asked …

​​Merkel listens as Putin defends USSR’s pact with Nazi Germany

Kyiv Post – ‎May 10, 2015‎
“The pact made sense from a standpoint of security of the Soviet Union. It so happened that after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its partition, [Poland] itself became the victim of the policy it tried to pursue in Europe,” he added. It was not immediately clear …

​​Merkel listens as Putin defends USSR’s pact with Nazi Germany

Kyiv Post – ‎May 10, 2015‎
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Germany’s chancellor, Russia’s president defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which the USSR signed with Nazi Germany in 1939 to carve up Eastern Europe, in turn triggering the onset of World War II.

​​Merkel listens as Putin defends USSR’s pact with Nazi Germany

Kyiv Post – ‎May 10, 2015‎
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Germany’s chancellor, Russia’s president defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which the USSR signed with Nazi Germany in 1939 to carve up Eastern Europe, in turn triggering the onset of World War II.

Putin: The Soviet Union Was Left All Alone Against Nazi Germany

Sputnik International – ‎May 10, 2015‎
Left alone in the face of imminent Nazi aggression, the Soviet Union had no choice other than to sign a non-aggression pact with Hitler, the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, PresidentPutin said during a meeting Sunday with visiting German Chancellor …
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