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  • The Soviet Union was once a wildly impressive global superpower and the foundation of the

  • massive Eastern Bloc throughout the Cold War period.

  • Encompassing Russia and its neighbors and having a heavy influence over the rest of

  • Eastern Europe, the USSR was the polar opposite of the United States and its Western allies.

  • We know that, ultimately, the Soviet Union met an inevitable demise as communism crumbled

  • across the east, but, would this have changed if the USSR had consolidated its authority

  • even further?

  • What if the Soviets had incorporated all of Eastern Europe?

  • And, more importantly, why didn't they?...

  • The Soviet Union, officially titled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was first established

  • in 1922 and spanned over parts of Europe and Asia, with its roots in Soviet Russia.

  • This vast territory that Moscow claimed to be

  • the capital of, was without a doubt remarkable, but, it left some wondering why the Soviets

  • stopped there

  • The reason why Moscow never consolidated its power throughout all of Eastern Europe has

  • a bit to do with money and a tad to do with politics, and at least some to do with the

  • strategies of Joseph Stalin himself.

  • First, it's important to look at how the Soviet Union was initially formed, and what

  • state it was in prior to the outbreak of the second world war.

  • The period following the first world war saw a chaotic and evolving status of the Russian

  • state.

  • After the Russian Revolution, Civil War, and Red Terror, a monumental treaty was signed

  • between Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and what was then known as the Transcaucasian Federation

  • of modern-day Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, in 1922.

  • This treaty officially established the USSR under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin in

  • Moscow.

  • Upon Lenin's death in 1924, Joseph Stalin rose to command in his place and focused first

  • on fortifying his power within the union he already had.

  • Economy and development became a priority, and the new dictator enacted a series of Five-Year

  • Plans in hopes of boosting the Soviet economic growth, as well as speeding up industrialization

  • and collectivizing agriculture.

  • The Communist party was too concentrated on establishing their ideal Marxist state to

  • worry about anything else by this point, and this building process continued all the way

  • up to the commencement of World War Two

  • During the war, for obvious reasons, the Soviet Union was rigorously preoccupied with the

  • events of the conflict, but, they somehow still managed to take this opportunity to

  • further expand.

  • The USSR quickly decided to enter and occupy Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in 1940, but

  • this was not as unpredictable as one might assume.

  • These territories had actually been fused with Imperial Russia before the formation

  • of the Soviet Union, so when a deal was brokered with Germany that allowed the Soviets to retake

  • these lands, they did so with significant ease.

  • Finland would also cede some of its territory to the USSR as a result of the Russian-Finish

  • War around the same time, but nonetheless, this was yet again a region very familiar

  • with the old Imperial Russia.

  • The Soviets found further success though when Romania gave up its lands in Bessarabia and

  • Northern Bukovina, which were together incorporated into the USSR as what we know today by the

  • name of Moldova.

  • East Germany likewise fell into the Soviet sphere of influence after the annexation of

  • Berlin, and by the end of the war, this sphere had expanded to incorporate Poland, Romania,

  • Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania.

  • Many wonder why the USSR didn't turn their influence into outright authority throughout

  • this Eastern Bloc, but the truth is that had they done so, it likely would have doomed

  • the Union

  • One factor had to do with the contemporary relationship between the East and West.

  • Though they had been allies during the war, the United States and the United Kingdom were

  • not excessively fond of the Soviet Union.

  • Tensions had only grown since the end of the war and Joseph Stalin was not oblivious to

  • this.

  • As an intelligent strategist, he knew that if he were to fully incorporate the rest of

  • the USSR's influential sphere, he would simultaneously erode the already weakened

  • relationship he held with the West, which would put the Soviet Union as a whole, in

  • danger.

  • Although they had technically won the war, the USSR had been devastated by the conflict.

  • The ability of the Soviets to quickly rebuild an army, infrastructure, and economic flexibility

  • if a new war broke out was utterly nonexistent, and on top of that, the ravaged state of the

  • Union also meant that they would lack the necessary forces to confidently maintain strong

  • security within an even larger USSR.

  • Knowing all too well that overplaying his hand in these circumstances would explode

  • in his face from multiple sides, Stalin had to come up with an alternative

  • The easiest way to maintain both influence and distant control of the Eastern Bloc would

  • instead be to put Soviet-friendly governments in power in each surrounding state, rather

  • than trying to bring them under the Moscow government.

  • This tactic made it much trickier for the West to accuse the Soviets of overstepping

  • any boundaries, and it required much less economic and military involvement from the

  • USSR as well.

  • The economy was also a leading factor in why Stalin would have wanted to keep his union

  • from expanding much further.

  • The Soviets had to rebuild after peace was made, and that would be enough of a challenge

  • as is.

  • The thought of adding more states into the Union that would also need to be reconstructed

  • after the war was utter lunacy, and could not truly be considered.

  • There was simply no way that it could be done and would only serve to self-destruct the

  • USSR in its entirety

  • For these reasons, it was not the plan of Joseph Stalin to seize more of the Eastern

  • Bloc, which would instead remain independent and simply uphold pro-Soviet governments.

  • But, after Stalin's death, even more contributing factors came to light

  • At first, the Soviets seemed to be in a strong position by the 1950s, and two years after

  • Stalin's death in 1953, the Warsaw Pact was established as a response to the creation

  • of NATO.

  • This agreement was a defensive pact between the USSR, Albania, Romania, Poland, Hungary,

  • East Germany, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia, and appeared to confirm the Soviets' capability

  • across the Eastern Bloc, without the need to officially claim the rest of the sovereign

  • territories.

  • While the Warsaw Pact would later crumble, for now, it proved that the Soviet strategy

  • had paid off.

  • Back at home in Moscow though, the next decades would demonstrate something very different

  • In a period marked by deStalinization and the Cold War concurrently, the Soviet government

  • began to change.

  • Nikita Khrushchev, who took control after the fall of Stalin, was wildly critical of

  • his predecessor, and swiftly moved to pass reforms that would improve the Soviet living

  • conditions and change the current status quo.

  • These new shifts didn't sit well with the Communist Party though, and Khrushchev was

  • ousted by his own party in 1964.

  • It wasn't just the Communist Party that was showing resistance either.

  • Multiple rebellions had broken out throughout the Soviet sphere, and the liberalization

  • process occurring in the Warsaw state of Czechoslovakia became enough of a threat that the Soviets,

  • alongside the rest of the Warsaw states minus Albania and Romania, invaded their own ally.

  • This was merely the start of a new wave of turmoil that would not only ruin the USSR

  • but also made it abundantly clear that still, any idea to incorporate the rest of Eastern

  • Europe into the Soviet Union would be dangerously impossible

  • Across the next decades until its final dissolution in 1991, the USSR was falling apart from the

  • inside out.

  • With every effort having to be put on trying to fill the cracks as they appeared, even

  • if the West had backed off or the Soviets had been prepared for war or a new economic

  • responsibility, there was simply no way that they could even think about expansion.

  • If there had ever been a time to annex the rest of the Eastern Bloc, this was surely

  • not it

  • Essentially, the reason why the USSR never incorporated the rest of its eastern neighbors

  • into the Union can be simplified to say that there was never a good time.

  • The more complex answer, of course, would be that the West was always a threat and would

  • have undoubtedly reacted with great resistance if the Soviets had attempted to claim their

  • influential sphere as a part of the USSR.

  • Furthermore, the consequences of the world war meant that the Soviet Union lacked the

  • necessary military power and stable economy to take on the responsibility of more territories.

  • This doesn't even include the cost that it would take to restore the Soviet infrastructure,

  • military, and everything else that the war had wasted.

  • If the USSR had expanded, they would have been charged with the duty of not only repairing

  • their own foundations but of doing the same for their newly consolidated territories.

  • In addition, not every satellite state or sovereign nation within the Soviet sphere

  • was an inherent ally.

  • Many revolted against their Moscow-backed governments, and some eventually prevailed.

  • It would have likely taken an exertion of military force on behalf of the Soviets to

  • keep these states within the Union, and even if they could have handled this, it may not

  • have been worth it.

  • And lastly, the rise and fall of neighboring Yugoslavia begs one more question - would

  • ethnic discord have caused yet another challenge for the USSR if it had expanded over the entire

  • east?

  • There seem to be endless explanations for why the Soviet Union never expanded beyond

  • its initial peak.

  • So, the real question may not be why didn't the USSR incorporate the rest of Eastern Europe,

  • but instead, why would they have ever even tried?...

The Soviet Union was once a wildly impressive global superpower and the foundation of the

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Why didn't the USSR annex Eastern Europe after World War 2?(Why didn't the USSR annex Eastern Europe after World War 2?)

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    香蕉先生 發佈於 2022 年 07 月 02 日
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