MEPs criticise Putin's words on WW2 outbreak

Russian leader Vladimir Putin's distortions of historical facts and attempts to shift the blame for World War Two onto Poland should not be ignored, said MEPs on Tuesday pending a Wednesday debate on the matter in Strasbourg.

The debate, motioned by the EP's European People's Party (EPP), will discuss Putin's December claims that Poland was partly responsible for the outbreak of World War Two.

"Today we stand shoulder to shoulder with Poland to defend the true history of Europe and the true history of World War Two. We stand with Poland against this unprecedented propaganda," former Lithuanian PM and current MEP Andrius Kubilius told a press conference in Strasbourg.

German MEP Michael Gahler said blaming Poland for the war's outbreak was "outrageous", and reminded that the war was incited by Germany, who had "found an ally in the Soviet Union."

Former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski observed that if Putin held the Soviet Union's conduct at the time for correct, this meant that he was ready to condone it in the future, which was a security threat.

At a December 20 sitting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Putin said the immediate cause of World War Two was not the August 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union but the 1938 Munich Pact, which secured the cession to Germany of Czechoslovakia's Sudeten German territory and which Poland attempted to use to secure its claims to the Zaolzie region, over which it was in dispute with Czechoslovakia.

Referring to the Soviets' September 22, 1939, takeover of Brest in then eastern Poland (today's Belarus) from the Germans, who had captured the city several days earlier, Putin stressed that did not mean the Soviets had taken it from Poland, as at the time they were not fighting against Poland, which had lost control of the area. He also observed that the Red Army's entry into the region probably helped save many local lives, especially of Jews, who would have otherwise been exterminated by the Germans.

"At that time the Polish government had lost control of those territories, so there was nobody to negotiate with. The Soviet Union did not actually take anything away from Poland," Putin said.

He also accused Poland's pre-war government of hedging ties to Nazi Germany, by which they "exposed their people, the Polish people, to the German war machine and contributed to the outbreak of World War Two."