Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Russian Nationalist Suggests Dividing Ukraine Using Nazi-Soviet Pact Lines

A prominent Russian politician has proposed dividing Ukraine along the lines of an infamous Nazi-Soviet pact and suggested that regions in Western Ukraine hold referendums on breaking away from Kiev.

In a letter sent to the governments of Poland, Romania and Hungary, Vladimir Zhirinovsky also suggested those countries hold referendums on incorporating the regions into their territory.

Zhirinovsky, whose nationalist Liberal Democratic party largely backs President Vladimir Putin in the Russian parliament, sent the letter as Russia annexed the Crimea region of southern Ukraine last week.

He is deputy speaker at the Duma and his party holds a minority in the parliament. But his ideas and language resonate with a large part of the Russian population and the Kremlin’s increasingly pro-nationalist rhetoric.

His letter, seen by Reuters, suggested Poland, Hungary and Romania, who are now in the European Union, might wish to take back regions which he said were in the past their territories.

The regions were incorporated into Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union at the end of World War Two and featured in a secret annex of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact under which the Soviet and Nazi German foreign ministers carved up the area.

“It’s never too late to correct historical errors,” Zhirinovsky wrote.

It was not clear whether the letter was serious or a publicity stunt. But it follows a crisis in relations between Moscow and Kiev since the Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich was ousted as Ukraine’s president last month.

Zhirinovsky proposed Ukraine’s Chernivtsi, Zakarpattia, Volyn, Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Rovensky regions, together with Poland, Romania and Hungary hold referendums on whether the regions should break away from Ukraine.

Romania might wish to have Chernivtsi, Hungary the Zakarpattia region, and Poland the rest, he said.

The proposal would allow central Ukraine to be free of “unnecessary tensions” and the referendums would “bring prosperity and tranquillity to the Ukrainian native land,” the letter said.

Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski dismissed the letter as a “complete oddity” and regretted some Russians “still think in terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.”

Ukraine’s government spokeswoman declined to comment.

Sergei Sobolev, head of Ukraine’s largest parliamentary faction, the Fatherland party, called Zhirinovsky a “provocateur”.

“But Zhirinovsky often is the voice of Putin,” he added.

Alexandr Efremov, head of the parliamentary faction Party of Regions, Ukraine’s former ruling party, said he did not support Zhirinovsky’s proposal.

“Just as we have some intemperate people, Russia has some of them as well,” Efremov said at a briefing. “I do not support this (Zhirinovsky’s) approach.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.