Vladimir Putin
Forbes have crowned Vladimir Putin as the world's most powerful personReuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that there was nothing wrong with the Nazi-Soviet - or Molotov-Ribbentrop - pact, the non-aggression deal which divided Poland between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

The Russian leader made the controversial comments in a meeting with young historians in Moscow, where he also implied that Britain and France were at fault for Hitler's march through Europe.

Putin told the meeting that Western historians attempt to "hush up" the Munich Agreement signed in 1938 where France and Britain allowed Hitler's occupation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

"Chamberlain came, waved a piece of paper and said, 'I've brought you peace' when he returned to London after the talks," Putin said, according to the Kremlin.

"To which Churchill, I think, said somewhere to a small group of people, 'That's it, now war is inevitable'. Because compromise with an aggressor in the form of Hitlerite Germany was clearly leading to a large-scale future military conflict, and some people understood that."

"Serious research must show that those were the foreign policy methods then," he said, adding: "The Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany. People say: 'Ach, that's bad.' But what's bad about that if the Soviet Union didn't want to fight, what's bad about it?"

The comments will cause consternation in eastern Europe where the Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland took place and plans were made to divide Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Romania.

For example, the Nazis killed three million Jews in Poland alone while the Soviet secret police killed over 20,000 Poles in the 1940 Katyn massacre.

This week, Putin was named the most powerful person in the world for the second year running by Forbes magazine.

The Russian leader beat US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping into second and third place respectively.