MolotovV. M. (Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov) (1890–1986), a Soviet statesman. For more than 30 years he was the man closest to Joseph Stalin. As foreign minister, 1939–49, Molotov negotiated the German-Soviet nonaggression pact in 1939 and represented the Soviet Union at World War II Allied conferences. He was again foreign minister, 1953–56, establishing a reputation for stubborn opposition to most of the proposals made by the United States and its allies.

Molotov joined the Bolsheviks at 16 and attended the Polytechnic Institute of St. Petersburg. Because the czarist regime persecuted Bolsheviks, for many years Molotov was either in hiding, in exile, or in jail. To help conceal his identity, he took the name Molotov (from the Russian word for hammer) in place of his real name, Scriabin. During and after the Russian Revolution Molotov held important posts in the Communist party. In 1926 he was made a member of the party's Politburo. As premier of the Soviet Union, 1930–41, he helped direct Stalin's five-year plans.

Molotov's skill as a diplomat was acknowledged by men who were often his antagonists, such as Winston Churchill and John Foster Dulles. In the late 1940's he concluded a series of pacts tying the East European satellites economically and politically to the Soviet Union.

In 1957 Molotov, Georgi Malenkov, Lazar Kaganovich, and other Communist leaders tried unsuccessfully to remove Premier Nikita Khrushchev from control of the party. Molotov was expelled from the Presidium and sent to Mongolia as ambassador to that country, 1957–60. He was the Soviet representative at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 1960–62. Soviet leaders repeatedly denounced Molotov as an opponent of “peaceful coexistence” with the West, and he was expelled from the Communist party and forced to retire in 1962. In 1984, he was reinstated to the party.