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Expansion and Coexistence, 1939–1940

  • Geoffrey Roberts
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Abstract

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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  5. 3.
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  30. 24.
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  41. 35.
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  42. 36.
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  51. 45.
    Degras, Soviet Documents, pp. 407–10.Google Scholar
  52. 46.
    On the Kuusinen government and Soviet policy see T. Vihavainen, ‘The Soviet Decision for War Against Finland, 30 November 1939: A Comment’, Soviet Studies(April 1987)Google Scholar
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  54. 47.
    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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  57. 48.
    On these unofficial Soviet-Finnish contacts see Kollontai, ‘Seven Shots’, pp. 191 ff.Google Scholar
  58. 49.
    On the negotiations to end the war see Tanner, The Winter War, chs 7–11 and the Soviet documents he cites in n. 13. The text of the Soviet-Finnish peace treaty is appended to the Tanner book.Google Scholar
  59. 50.
    Soviet foreign policy archives. Cited by P. Sevostyanov, Before the Nazi Invasion(Moscow, 1981), p. 95.Google Scholar
  60. Soviet relations with Britain and France during the period of the Winter War are covered by G. Roberts, The Unholy Alliance: Stalin’s Pact with Hitler(London, 1989), ch. 11.Google Scholar
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  62. 51.
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    God Krizisa 1938–1939, vol. 2 (Moscow, 1990), docs 517 and 536; Dokumenty Vneshnei Politiky 1939 god(DVP 1939), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1992), docs 451, 461, 471, and 499.Google Scholar
  64. 53.
    See Molotov’s telegram to Terentev, the Soviet ambassador in Turkey, on 3/9/39 in DVP 1939, vol. 2, doc. 527. Also: docs 542, 545, 551, 560 and 578.Google Scholar
  65. 54.
    NSR, pp. 85–7, 97 and 120.Google Scholar
  66. 55.
    On the Soviet-Turkish negotiations see also Gasratyan and Moiseev, SSSR i Turtsiya 1917–1941(Moscow, 1981), pp. 157–60Google Scholar
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  69. 56.
    DVP 1939, vol. 2, doc. 654.Google Scholar
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    Soviet foreign policy archives. Cited by P. P. Sevostyanov, Pered Velikim Ispytaniem(Moscow 1981), p. 199.Google Scholar
  71. 58.
    DVP 1939, vol. 2, doc. 693.Google Scholar
  72. 59.
    On the Anglo-Turkish-French negotiations see L. Zhivkova, Anglo-Turkish Relations 1933–1939(London, 1976). On Russian protests about the Turkish accord with Britain and France: DVP 1939, vol. 2, docs 701, 725, 732 and 736.Google Scholar
  73. 60.
    A. L. Zapantis, Greek-Soviet Relations 1917–1941(New York, 1982), p. 382.Google Scholar
  74. 61.
    Sovetsko-Bolgarskie Otnosheniya i Svyezi 1917–1944(Moscow, 1976), docs 504 and 505.Google Scholar
  75. 62.
    Ibid., doc. 506; S. Rachev, Anglo-Bulgarian Relations During the Second World War(Sofia, 1981), p. 19.Google Scholar
  76. 63.
    Istoriya Diplomatii, vol. 4 (Moscow, 1975), p. 153.Google Scholar
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    Zapantis, Greek-Soviet Relations, p. 384, n. 27 and RIAA: Survey of the Foreign Press 1939–1941, vol. 2, no. 14.Google Scholar
  78. 65.
    Sovetsko-Bolgarskie, doc. 510.Google Scholar
  79. 66.
    DVP 1939, doc. 769.Google Scholar
  80. 67.
    Ibid., doc. 783.Google Scholar
  81. 68.
    For Molotov’s speech see Degras, Soviet Documents, pp. 436–49.Google Scholar
  82. 69.
    See Polpredy Soobshchayut, docs 256, 273, 277, 285, 290, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298, 299 and 300.Google Scholar
  83. 70.
    On the Soviet takeover of the Baltic States in summer 1940 see: Crowe, The Baltic States, ch. 7; D. Kirby, ‘The Baltic States, 1940–1950’, in M. McCauley (ed.), Communist Power in Europe, 1944–1949(London, 1977);Google Scholar
  84. R. J. Misiunas and R. Taagepera, The Baltic States: Years of Dependence 1940–1980(London, 1983);Google Scholar
  85. and L. Sabaliunas, Lithuania in Crisis: Nationalism to Communism 1939–1940(Bloomington, Ind., 1972). The specific interpretation of these events given in the text is developed in detail in G. Roberts, ‘Soviet Policy and the Baltic States, 1939–1940: A Reappraisal’ (unpublished, 1994). The main documentary basis for this interpretation is the new evidence from Soviet archives published in Polpredy Soobshchayut.Google Scholar
  86. 71.
    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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