He describes the necessary and successful pre-emptive Soviet assault on Finland, the Winter War of 1939-40, as a "debacle."
The fascist Finns had large artillery guns ranged on Leningrad, only 15 miles away, and refused to move them.
These were concreted into their Mannerheim Line, which they believed impregnable. It almost was, hence the heavy Soviet casualties, with terrible weather grounding the air force.
Finland's eastern frontier was also dangerously close to the easily cut Murmansk railway.
The Red Army smashed the Mannerheim Line and pushed the Finns well back from Leningrad and the railway, forcing them to surrender on March 12 1940, as a result of which Leningrad, helped by Western supplies rolling down from Murmansk, withstood 900 days of the German-Finnish siege in WW2.
As Molotov said, "We pursued no object other than that of safeguarding Leningrad, Murmansk and the Murmansk railway."
Turning to the 1930s purges, which "certainly did not help the USSR when it was attacked by Nazi Germany," the then US ambassador J E Davies and Winston Churchill would disagree, as does the Goebbels diary.
Davies attended the show trials - they were not held in camera, British style. In 1941, he was asked about fifth columnists in Russia and replied: