Expansion and Coexistence, 1939–1940

  • Geoffrey Roberts


The year following the Nazi-Soviet pact and the partition of Poland was a period of further Russian territorial, political and military expansion into Eastern Europe. In September–October 1939 mutual assistance treaties and Soviet military bases were forced on the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In summer 1940 the Baltic governments were deposed by Soviet fiat, the countries occupied by the Red Army, and their internal regimes subject to ‘sovietisation’. In early August 1940 all three states were incorporated into the USSR. At the end of November 1939 Finland was attacked by the Soviet Union and following the Winter War of December 1939–March 1940 was forced to cede large tracts of territory to the USSR. In July 1940 the Romanian territories of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were summarily annexed by the Soviets. On a less dramatic note Moscow also during this period mounted a major diplomatic offensive to extend Soviet influence and enhance Soviet security in the Balkans.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    The USSR formally declared its neutrality in the European war on 17 September 1939. See J. Degras (ed.), Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy, vol. 3 (Oxford, 1953), p. 376.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Soviet-German economic and military relations during this period are dealt with by G. Roberts, The Unholy Alliance: Stalin’s Pact with Hitler(London, 1989), ch. 10.Google Scholar
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    My general points on ideology were inspired mainly by C. Reynolds, Modes of Imperialism(London, 1981), ch. 4, ‘Imperialism and Ideology’Google Scholar
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    NSR, pp. 155, 160–3 and Degras, Soviet Documents, pp. 458–61.Google Scholar

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© Geoffrey Roberts 1995

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  • Geoffrey Roberts

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