“The Soviet Union Developed Its Influence In Eastern Europe In The Years 1945 1949 Because It Wanted To Guarantee Its Security In The Future”. How Valid Is This Assessment?

1241 words - 5 pages

The standard view in the West during the development of the Cold War was that the Soviet Union conducted an expansionist policy which was seen to threaten peace and collective security. The provocative and expansionist nature of Stalin’s foreign policy after 1945 was singled out as the prime cause of the Cold War and, as the Soviet Union sought to expand world communism, the West was forced into taking action to safeguard the free world. However, a closer examination of Soviet foreign policy during this period illustrates a combination of mistrust and a lack of understanding which arguably led to a misinterpretation of Stalin’s motives for expanding Soviet influence in Eastern Europe. While ...view middle of the document...

Essentially the Americans were seen as imperialists who had all the characteristic imperialistic policies based on strategic aggression, ideological control and economic exploitation.
Russia accused the USA of becoming a strategic threat by developing military bases in countries far away from the American continent and therefore of little direct strategic use other than to intimidate the USSR; these bases existed in Alaska, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, western Germany and Afghanistan. American economic imperialism was also presented as a justification for a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. The USA was looking for opportunities to expand its economic control by investing in Europe and thereby finding markets for its own export goods. A communist bloc in Eastern Europe would prevent this subtle form of economic imperialism and prevent Europe being sucked into the bondage of American capital. Finally America was accused of violating national sovereignty by promoting the idea of ‘world government’. America was presented as a protector of universal laws and promoted the idea of a new world order based on the assumption that America was the champion of world order, world peace and democratic ideology. The Soviet Union saw itself as the defender of Europe against the imperialistic ambitions of the USA.
Above all, Stalin’s actions in Eastern Europe were motivated by a determination to do whatever was necessary to safeguard Soviet international interests and Soviet territory. He believed the creation of a buffer zone of satellite states in Eastern Europe was essential to “guarantee its security in the future”; thus, after 1945, Stalin needed to ensure the countries of Eastern Europe were friendly with the USSR.
This defensive stance was also a reflection of Stalin’s cautious approach to the conduct of foreign policy. His previous experiences had taught him to trust no one and proceed with vigilance, and therefore had always been suspicious of the USA and Britain: the intervention of the West against the Reds in the Russian Civil War had not been forgotten, and even during the Second World War he remained wary of the two superpowers, particularly over their refusal to open a second front until 1944. The USSR had to bear the brunt of the fighting against Nazi Germany enduring severe losses in the process and the suspicion arose that Churchill and Roosevelt were quite happy to see Hitler destroy the USSR; Soviet weakness in 1945, caused by exhaustion due to the war effort, made the USSR concerned to protect its borders. The sheer scale of Soviet losses in the war added to a sense of insecurity. The war had resulted in the deaths of over 20 million Soviet citizens; in addition, there was an...

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