Molotov, Viachislav M, 1890-1970

Molotov succeeded LITVINOV as Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs on 3 May 1939 and retained this post until 1952. In August 1939 he successfully negotiated the Nazi-Soviet NonAggression Pact which specified the partitioning of Poland between Germany and the USSR and defined their spheres of influence in the Baltic and Balkans. The basis of this agreement was overturned when Molotov received reports of German activities in Finland and Rumania. Molotov confronted HITLER with these reports, negotiations broke down and Hitler’s plans for Barbarossa were set in motion in late 1940. On 13 April 1941 Molotov won a diplomatic victory by signing a nonaggression pact with Japan, but he had to announce the news of the German invasion on 21 June 1941. He was appointed to the five-man State Defense Committee shortly afterwards.

Throughout the war Molotov attended all the major Allied conferences and many meetings with Heads of State in Moscow. He took on many of STALIN’s responsibilities at various times due to the latter’s overwork or ill-health. In May 1942 he visited Washington and London charged with pressuring the Western Allies into opening up a Second Front in Europe at the earliest possible date and resuming the sending of convoys of equipment to Russia. ROOSEVELT actually promised Molotov that an Allied invasion of Europe would take place in 1942 but had to back down later in the year. Molotov also signed a 20-year treaty with England at this time, pledging support against Hitler.

In June 1943 Molotov was engaged in secret negotiations with RIBBENTROP through intermediaries. Though they did not come to an agreement, news of the Russian attempt to make a separate peace leaked to the Western Allies. It was not allowed to disrupt their relations however, and convoys to Russia were resumed in November 1943. Molotov hosted the Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Moscow in October 1943 and was the USSR’s first delegate to the United Nations in San Francisco in June 1945.

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