Poland hopes for apology from Russia for wartime pact with Nazis

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The Polish leadership wants an acknowledgement from Mr Putin that the Soviet Union's pact with Adolf Hitler, forged the month before the war broke out on September 1 1939, was illegal, and a major contributing factor to the conflict which would go on to claim 55 million lives.

Mr Putin will join Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, David Milliband, the foreign secretary, and his French counterpart in Gdansk for commemorations marking the anniversary. His inner circle are adamant that no such apology will be made and that Russia did what it had to do in signing the pact on August 23 1939 to protect itself.

Few countries suffered as much as Poland during the war; Hitler built his extermination camp gulag there, great cities were destroyed and three million civilian Poles died.

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