Soviet's Foreign Policy


Soviet Foreign Polcicy 1930s

After ww1 Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau made a peace coloured by the Bolshevik seizure of power - they isolated the new USSR

They didn't moderate the harsh terms of the Treaty of BL which Germany had imposed on Lenin and Trotsky in 1918

They also intervened in support of anti-bolshevik forces

What was Stalin's foreign policy in the 1930s?

Stalin's main thrust of foreign policy seemed to be to maintain Soviet security rather than spread Bolshevism.

The west often excluded Stalin from international diplomacy with the consequence that he turned to other right wing regimes for support

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Non-Aggression Pact 1939

 Why did USSR sign Non-Aggression pact in 1939 with Germany?

  • To give them time to build up defences in case Germany attacked

What did the pact say?

  • They would stay neutral in event of war involving either side. Divided Poland and Eastern Europe up (Germany take west Poland, USSR take East Poland, Finland, 3 Baltic States and some of Romania
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Historiography/Arguments on Operation Barbarossa

The negative argument:

  • Favoured, for instance, by Medvedev- is that, because of Stalin's mistakes (such as trusting Hitler after the 1939 pact, and the slowing down of defence preparations after 1940), the Soviet Union was almost on the point of total defeat. What saved it was a combination of German mistakes and good luck

The positive argument:

  • Soviet Military leaders (amazing considering the purge from the previous decade)
  • Ability to maintain and increase production during war
  • R Overy noted that the Soviet system showed flexibility and organisational power
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Why Operation Barbarossa?

Why Operation Barbarossa?

  • The Germans experienced several early successes during the war using their Blitzkrieg tactics
  • By early 1941 France, Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Yugoslavia and Greece were occupied by the Nazis
  • Hitler had failed to defeat the British Air Force in the Battle of Britain and now turned his attention to Russia
  • He wanted 'Lebensraum' in the East
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  • In Early 1942, Stalin planned a new offensive, as the Red Army had been strengthened by equipment from the US, which in November 1941, had made a Lend-Lease agreement with the Soviet Union. This provided for some US military equipment to be sent to the USSR. After the US had declared war on Germany in December 1941, the flow of equipment increased, through Soviet requests for troops were ignored
  • In August 1942, the Germans began their attempt to take Stalingrad, at times, the Germans held most of Stalingrad , but there was incredible Soviet resistance. Zhukov's counter offensive - Operation Uranus- began in September and, by November, the German Sixth Army was surrounded; in February 1943, the remnants surrendered
  • The battle of Stalingrad proved an important turning point in the war- according to Churchill, the soviet victory there 'tore the guts out of the German Army. The Soviet Union had faced the bulk of  German forces on its own- at least 75% of all German Troops and military equipment had been sent to the Russian front 
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