Soviet Union's Presence in Eastern Europe
This paper will introduce the development of Soviet internationalism
alongside the development of Soviet interests in Eastern Europe. It
will be argued that the Soviet interests which developed out of the
Wars became fixed alongside the ideology behind internationalism. The
legacy of Stalinism influenced the development of Soviet policy toward
Eastern Europe and Soviet internationalism and the Cold war meant that
the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe would persist until Gorbachev.
The Soviets could not consider withdrawing from Eastern Europe so long
as they were governed by an ideology which viewed the world as two
distinct and opposing camps.
The development and persistence of Soviet Internationalism
Soviet interests in Eastern Europe developed through its desire to end
strategic vulnerabilities Russia had endured since Napoleon. The ease
of access to the heartlands of Russia through Eastern Europe meant
that the Russian strategic meant that the Russian strategic focus lay
on securing themselves against the kind of attacks they suffered
during the First World War and The Second World War. The Second World
War provided the Soviet Union an opportunity to end another strategic
frailty-access to warm seas. According to D’Encausse, “throughout its
history as a continental power, Russia has dreamed of an opening to
the sea and has battled to reach that goal” (D’Encausse, H, 1987, pg.
3). The Soviet Union had grown powerful toward the end of the Second
World War with its military straddling much of Eastern Europe. If the
Soviet Union had entered the Second World War defending communism,
they ended the War defending Russian strategic interests accompanied
by an ideological shift from socialism as a competitor with capitalism
to socialism as capitalism’s main adversary. Stalin’s eyes turned
toward Eastern Europe and through his dissolution of the Comintern he
sought to make ‘unthreatening’ appeals to a common Slavic identity.
According to D’Encausse, “The may 15, 1943, decision” to dissolve the
Comintern “which suggested a definitive retreat by the USSR to within
its own borders, in fact signified a more dynamic opening to the
external world because it was based upon a real and growing
phenomenon, power” (D’Encausse, H, 1987, pg. 7). Soviet intentions
became clearer when the ‘iron curtain’ was realised at Yalta and at
Potsdam. However, Stalin did not wish to move the Soviet Union into
Europe, he wished to isolate Eastern Europe outside of Western
influence and under the control of the Soviet powers based in Moscow.
Stalin’s aims in Eastern Europe epitomise Soviet aims because of the
fact that his policies set the tone for Soviet policy toward Eastern
Europe and his policies were still influencing Soviet Society when
Gorbachev came to...