The Nazi-Soviet Treaty of Non-Aggression was signed between Germany and the USSR on 23 August 1939 in Moscow. The Treaty is also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, named after the foreign ministers of the USSR, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Germany, Joachim von Ribbentrop, who negotiated and signed the Treaty.

After trying unsuccessfully to secure a guarantee of non-aggression from France and Great Britain in his drive to secure eastern lands for the Third Reich, Hitler turned to Stalin. The Nazi-Soviet Treaty of Non-Aggression guaranteed Hitler that a German invasion of Poland would not result in war with the USSR.

In a secret protocol, the Treaty assured Stalin that the Red Army could occupy the eastern Polish territories, where over five million Ukrainians lived. These territories were incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR. Two additional secret protocols divided Europe into spheres of influence, with the division running through the Narev, Vistula and San rivers, giving the USSR control of the Baltic States and Bessarabia. The Baltic States were occupied by the Red Army in 1940 and incorporated into the USSR.

The Nazi-Soviet Treaty of Non-Aggression, after the destruction and partition of the Polish state, by the ratification of the Treaty of Borders and Friendship between Germany and the USSR on 28 September 1939. In this Treaty, the USSR and Germany each recognized the others’ legitimacy to the Polish territory they had just annexed. The USSR also agreed to supply Germany with essential war materiel. The delivery of these supplies was only stopped after the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941.

One of the most extraordinary diplomatic coups in history, the Nazi-Soviet Treaty of Non-Aggression revealed the cynicism and opportunism of the foreign policies of both totalitarian states. In what must be described as simply a land grab, Stalin signed a Treaty with Germany despite the fact that Hitler’s plans to invade the USSR had been made clear years before in Mein Kampf. The Treaty allowed Hitler to secure his eastern border and focus all his forces on the defeat of France and Great Britain in the West, a goal he came precariously close to realizing in 1940.

For the Ukrainian population now incorporated into the USSR, the two years between Soviet occupation and German invasion saw purges and repressions that equaled and perhaps even surpassed the Great Terror of 1936-38 in the USSR.