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Reva Craine

Russia’s Foreign Policy in War

Reviewing an Important Book

(June 1943)

From The New International, Vol. IX No. 6, June 1943, pp. 174–179.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The rôle of Russia in the Second World War has been largely misunderstood. There are the superficial observers who believe that Russia has simply reverted to the policies of the old Czarist Empire. If the conversion of the Communist International into a branch of the Russia Foreign Office did not in the past fifteen years dispel the belief that Russia was continuing international socialist politics, then the formal liquidation of the Comintern should make even the blind see. There are also those self-styled Marxists who interpret Russian foreign policy as flowing from its position as a “degenerated workers’ state.” While they condemn the individual acts of this policy (Russo-German pact, partition of Poland, invasion of Finland, etc.) on the grounds that they were executed solely in the interests of the Stalinist bureaucracy, they nevertheless cling to the idea that the totality of this policy defends – poorly, to be sure, but defends just the same – the remaining “conquests of October.” They fail to see that these remainders (nationalized property) are themselves instruments whereby the bureaucracy rules and exploits the working masses of Russia.

The present policy of Russia is as different from the policy of the workers’ state as night is from day. The latter was based on the concept that only the international socialist revolution, or its success in one or more of the major countries, could save the October Revolution from attack or degeneration. As a matter of fact, it was the workers’ movements outside of Russia which in the early days prevented the interventionists from realizing their plans against a weak Soviet Russia. In its early treaties with capitalist powers, the young workers’ republic always made clear to the world its motives. The bourgeois signatories to the Brest-Litovsk, Polish and Esthonian treaties were never designated by the Soviets as “friends of peace” or of the Soviet Union, and these treaties were regarded not as a substitute for the support of the workers’ movement abroad, but rather as a temporary breathing spell until this movement could gather strength, reorganize itself and come to the assistance of the first workers’ state. Thus it was with the Brest-Litovsk peace, which an exhausted and weak workers’ Russia was compelled to sign with Germany. Lenin openly and publicly called it a “Tilsit peace,” “an incredibly oppressive and humiliating peace” forced upon the Soviets by an “imperialistic brigand.”

“When we made our revolution,” said Lenin in 1921, “we said either the international revolution would come to our assistance, and in that case victory would be assured, or we will carry on our modest revolutionary work with the firm conviction that even our defeat will clear the road for the next revolution. In spite of our clear understanding that victory for us is impossible without an international revolution, and in spite of all obstacles, we did everything in order to consolidate the Soviet system. We acted, not only for the sake of our own interests, but for the interests of the International Revolution.”

This was the underlying concept which guided decisions in internal and external affairs. The Russian Revolution can live only if the workers took power in other countries.. In the event of a postponement of the world revolution – then Russia is a “beleaguered fortress” holding out until the international proletariat could come to its assistance. Defense of Soviet Russia was a first duty of the international working class, but never at the expense of its class interests, never by tying the proletariat to the political kite of the bourgeoisie.

The defeats of the proletariat in one country after another came in rapid succession. The international revolution was delayed. Lenin and Trotsky looked to socialist construction as a way of holding out until the revolutionary wave surged again. But after Lenin’s death, the official state policy became “socialism in a single country.” The continued defeats gave a material base to this theory and permitted its adherents to advocate it more openly. In turn, the theory became the cause for more serious and crushing defeats of the working class in China, England, Germany. The Communist International had become nothing but an instrument of Russian foreign policy. Socialism in one country led to no socialism at all – not even in Russia.

The main tenet of Russian foreign policy thenceforth changed from world revolution to the maintenance of the status quo. The internal changes, the result of the degeneration and finally the destruction of the workers’ regime, were accompanied by corresponding changes in the aims and methods of foreign policy, which is, after all, a continuation of domestic policy, conducted by and for the new Russian ruling class. Just as in the sphere of domestic politics the bureaucracy rules in its own interests, so in the field of foreign policy it has changed from socialist politics to power politics. It is only as a logical consequence of this change that the individual acts of Russian foreign policy can be understood. Seen in this light, Russian policy is neither “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” (Churchill) nor “simple and clear” (Stalin).

Dallin’s book [1] is the story of Russian foreign policy between 1939 – the signing of the Russo-German pact – and 1942, when the Russian and German armies were engaged at Stalingrad. It is told in terms of the diplomatic struggles and maneuvers conducted by the various powers. Dallin’s sources are as objective as they can be under the circumstances where most of the material is still hidden in the foreign offices of the warring governments. (One of Soviet Russia’s great contributions, under Lenin, had been to end secret diplomacy and publish all treaties, agreements and pacts signed by the governments so that the working class could see how wars are made.) The chief sources are therefore the scattered diplomatic reports and notes of the Foreign Offices as far as they have been published, official documents and collections of documents, speeches and discussions on foreign policy by various political leaders; and the daily press of Russia, America and Western Europe.

In the book Dallin makes a number of observations which reveal that he has not probed very deeply into the basic causes of the war. For example, he believes that the war could have been avoided had Germany been pressed from East and West by strong military states and thus denied the elbowroom for expansion at the expense of smaller and weaker states. “Only a military alliance of Britain, France and Russia could successfully have opposed Germany’s growing might.” Dallin does not see the war as inevitably arising out of the continued existence of capitalism, but believes that it could have been avoided through collective security. Fortunately, however, his political observations comprise a very small part of the book and most of it is devoted to factual material which is exceedingly interesting and valuable. So, disregarding for the time being the inadequate and incorrect analyses, we turn to the history of Russia’s diplomacy since 1939.

Europe After Munich

Britain’s policy of appeasing Hitler aimed at diverting his attention to the East. To involve Germany in a war with Russia in which both would be exhausted and thus leave Britain master of Europe was the essence of British foreign policy which culminated in the Munich agreement. If war with Germany was to come, England wished, through appeasement, to gain the necessary time for military preparations. By the spring of 1939, however, after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, British policy changed. It became clear that German expansion in Europe must be halted. To prevent Hitler from realizing his policy, Britain began to seek a rapprochement with Russia. On March 18, four days after German troops had entered Prague, the press reported that important conversations were taking place between London and Moscow which aimed at “closer collaboration between the two countries.”

Following on the heels of the invasion of Prague, Hitler sent off another note to Poland with new demands for changes in the status of Danzig and for an automobile road across the Polish Corridor. These demands were accompanied by a proposal to create a German-Polish military alliance against Russia. Poland, assured of England’s backing, rejected the German proposals. Although Hitler believed that Poland could be bluffed into accepting his plan, he came to see that in order to realize it he would have to resort to the use of force. In such an eventuality, it was necessary that Germany be assured at least of Russian neutrality. By the middle of April, Germany was ready to start negotiations with Russia.

In the spring of 1939, therefore, “London and Berlin were the ones who were bargaining against each other at Stalin’s counter.” Russia cleverly utilized one bidder against the other in an effort to extract the highest price – which Germany eventually offered.

The full account of the Anglo-Russian negotiations has not yet been given. From the available material, however, the following can be concluded. Russia preferred an alliance with Germany to one with England, because, among other reasons, she thought the democracies incapable of stopping Germany. However, in order to assure herself that Hitler was not setting a trap for Russia, she continued negotiations with London and made a proposal for a full-fledged military alliance with England. Concretely such an agreement would mean that both sides were to come to each other’s aid in the event of direct or “indirect” aggression. Should Germany attack Poland, Russia would have the right to cross the Polish border. This proposal was later extended to include the Baltic states. Moscow was obviously interested in guarantees that would extend the Russian border westward. Poland would not agree to such conditions and threatened to desert to Hitler. In less than two months more than thirty different schemes for an Anglo-Russian agreement had been considered and rejected.

It is obvious from the proposals made by the Russians, and the concessions made by the British, that Russia was playing for time. The agreement with Germany was the preferable course for Stalinist Russia. By early August it was fairly clear that the Russo-German pacts were an accomplished fact. At that time the negotiations with Germany turned from trade matters to military matters; the generals replaced the diplomats in the Moscow conferences. The Anglo-Russian negotiations, however, continued after that as a safeguard for the Russians, who feared that Hitler might still change his mind about concluding the pacts.

By the end of the month, negotiations between Russia and the Allied powers had all but completely broken down, although as late as August 21, two days after the conclusion of the first agreement with Germany, the Russians continued to demand of the British that in the event of war, Russia be granted the right to occupy Eastern Poland. The Allied military missions agreed to allow the Red Army to take up positions on the frontier until such time as Poland herself should request the entry of the Russian troops.

On August 19 Germany and Russia concluded their first trade agreement; on the 23rd the military and non-aggression pacts were signed and became effective upon signature without waiting for ratification. So great was the haste created by the mutual distrust of the new partners that they would not wait for the usual procedure in which the Supreme Soviet and the Reichstag would ratify the pact. Certainly neither party expected that the pact would be repudiated by their governments, but Russia feared that Hitler, armed with the pact, might reopen negotiations with the British, while Germany, in turn, was anxious to begin the attack on Poland. Twelve hours after the signing of the military and non-aggression pacts, Germany took over Danzig through a coup d’etat. The holocaust was soon to begin.

The Three Pacts

In the latter part of August 1939 Russia and Germany signed three agreements – a commercial agreement, a non-aggression pact and a secret (military) agreement.

The commercial agreement obligated Russia to sell to Germany within two years 180,000,000 marks’ worth of commodities and Germany extended credit to Russia in the amount of 200,000,000 marks at five per cent interest and payable over a period of seven years. Some five months later a new commercial treaty was worked out and in 1941 a third trade agreement was concluded by the two countries.

Although non-aggression pacts were by this time not novel to Russian policy, the one signed with Germany contained some very unusual terms. For example, it omitted the usual clause which stipulated that if one of the contracting parties should commit an act of aggression against a third party, the other contracting party would be entitled to renounce the pact. The coming attack on Poland, worked out and agreed to by both parties, made such a clause superfluous.

The secret treaty or treaties are the most interesting and important of all. They contained the terms which the two signatories offered each other Although their exact contents have not yet been published, some of the terms are known. On the basis of the information available and of what actually transpired, Dallin concludes that the secret pacts provided for the following:

Russia was to annex Eastern Poland outright, with the privilege of “socializing” its economy as it saw fit. Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Bessarabia were allotted to the Russian “sphere of influence.” These were not to be “socialized”; their economies were to remain intact. Bulgaria and the Dardanelles were designated as a Russian “security zone.” German inhabitants of these territories were to be returned to the Fatherland. The Franco-Soviet pact of 1935 was to be annulled. Russia was guaranteed participation in post-war problems. A small Polish state, under German domination, was to be created of Western Poland.

Invasion of Poland

Played up as instruments of peace by the German Nazis and the Stalinists, the Russo-German agreements released the brakes which were holding up the start of the Second World War. On September 2, Germany, assured of having to fight on only one front, invaded Poland. On September 17, the Russian troops marched into Poland from the East. The Russian people were taken completely by surprise when they heard of the mobilization of the Red Army. Few people realized that the mobilization which had taken place between the 7th and the 16th of September was intended for attack, as planned by Hitler-Stalin. Molotov’s note to the Polish Ambassador contained the typical diplomatic hypocrisy: Russia was attacking to defend the rights of the Polish people, to protect the life and property of the Ukrainian and White Russian minorities, “to extricate the Polish people from the unfortunate war into which they were dragged by their unwise leaders and to enable them to live a peaceful life.”

Five days after the Red Army invaded Poland the new line of demarcation was announced. The German Army had apparently gone further East than had been agreed upon and withdrew when the Red Army approached. Russia annexed Eastern Poland outright. In October a mock election took place: over ninety per cent of the population voted for the single ticket run by Moscow.

Soon afterward, Russia carried through the other terms of the secret pacts. Afraid that with the close of the Polish campaign Hitler might try to offer peace to the Western powers, Stalin speeded up the diplomatic offensive against the Baltic countries. Although she did not annex or sovietize these countries, Russia obtained the right to maintain troops in Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In the last named country, in the city of Vilno, the working class population had hailed the Red Army as liberators from capitalism. But, writes Dallin:

No sooner had Soviet troops entered the city when there began what is described in Communist terminology as a rapid process of socialization. To Stalin this was indeed a triumph. Then suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, Vilno was transferred to “capitalist Lithuania,” which was at the same time assured of sovereignty and of economic and social inviolability. The Lithuanian Communists organized a demonstration in front of the Soviet Legation in Kaunas, carrying placards which read: “We do not want Vilno to become Lithuanian; we want Kaunas to become Soviet.”

The Russians cooperated with the Lithuanian police. Arrests were made and in Vilno the GPU rounded up many socialists and revolutionists and shipped them off to the interior of Russia. Why Vilno, the ancient Lithuanian capital seized by Poland in 1920, was turned over by Stalin to Lithuania is not quite clear. It may have been agreed upon with Germany, but the answer still lies hidden in secret archives.

From the point of view of military strategy, Russia’s occupation of the Baltic countries could be aimed at only one power – Germany – which dominated the Baltic Sea. Since these were the days of the honeymoon of the Russo-German friendship, Moscow indulged in its by now usual hypocrisy to explain its actions Thus, for example, The Bolshevik, No. 18, 1939, wrote: “Basing itself on Esthonian territory, the British fleet attempted in 1919 to attack Kronstadt. In the post-war years the British fleet held maneuvers every summer in the Baltic Sea, and there were even negotiations regarding the sale of the Esthonian island of Oesel to England.” Thus, while the Baltic seizures aimed at extending the Russian border as a precaution against Hitler, Stalin carried them out under the blessing of the Russo-German pact, and dressed them up before the masses as a preventative measure against England. For reasons of his own, Hitler played along in this game.

At the Height of German-Russian Collaboration

The Polish and Baltic successes marked the high point in Russian-German relations. The conquest of Poland in less than twenty days made Germany appear invincible. The bloodless expansion of Russian territory seemed to justify Stalin’s policy. It was at this time that von Ribbentrop paid his second visit to Moscow to negotiate new trade agreements and to fix the new Russo-German frontier. The reception accorded him is symbolic of the depths to which Russian diplomacy had fallen under the reign of Stalin. Dallin describes the triumphal procession which greeted the fascist Foreign Minister. When von Ribbentrop landed at the Sokolniki airdrome the Russian band struck up the Internationale. Next came the Horst-Wessel song, the Nazis’ gory anti-communist anthem, which was played without a single flaw! Von Ribbentrop presented Madame Molotov with a Mercedes automobile and she thanked him in her little speech, saying that she liked it better than the gifts presented by the French. This was followed by sumptuous feasting, during which von Ribbentrop recited Georgian poetry which he had memorized to please Stalin. When von Ribbentrop left, the Russian guard of honor which saw him off raised their right hands in the Hitler salute!

The War with Finland

On October 5, the day Latvia signed her mutual agreement pact with Russia, Molotov called the Finnish envoy and suggested that the Finnish Foreign Minister visit Moscow to “discuss a number of concrete questions.” From that date until the outbreak of military hostilities, negotiations between the two countries revolved around a number of territorial changes demanded by Russia, specifically the Karelian isthmus and the Hanko and Rybachi peninsulas. Finland’s capitulation on one point after another proved unsatisfactory to the Russians, who realized that Russia would sooner or later be drawn into the world conflict. Territorial expansion had now become the strategy in Russia’s maneuvering for position.

Like the Baltic seizures, the war against Finland was ostensibly aimed at the Allied powers. Again, from the point of view of military strategy, Germany stood to lose more by Russia’s successful conquest of Finland than did the Allies. But the peculiar relationship of forces at the moment made the continuation of the Russo-German friendship desirable to both partners. Russia needed to maintain the pact in order to gain the necessary “breathing spell” in order to prepare for war. Under the aegis of the pact she was able to carry through her policy of territorial expansion aimed at Germany. This constituted what many called the paradox in Russia’s foreign policy. For Germany, the pact’s continuance was necessary in order to obtain supplies and raw materials and maintain her prestige, her seeming invincibility and to Increase her pressure against England. To do this, Russia had to be appeased. Germany paid for Russia’s support by consenting to the expansionist policy. Russia paid her price to Germany in the form of increased economic aid and political support. During this period the Communist Parties throughout the world concentrated their attack on the Allied imperialists and war-mongers while the stability and sensibility of the German-Russian bloc was played up. Russia’s war on Finland was dressed up as a defense against “the outpost of Allied capitalism,” and not a few non-Stalinists fell for this line.

In expectation that a Finnish capitulation would follow in quick order, Moscow resurrected the Finnish Stalinist, Kuusinen, and set him up as the head of a farcical “people’s government.” After a series of initial defeats, the military superiority of a large power made itself felt, but in spite of the fact that complete victory was easily within the reach of the Russians, Moscow’s attitude suddenly changed and at the end of January peace feelers were sent out.

Why did the Russians suddenly reverse their policy and decide to end the war? It certainly was not, as the Stalinists later tried to explain, that having achieved what they had originally demanded from Finland, the Russians were satisfied and desired peace. The answer lies in far less idealistic reasons. The first, but not decisive, reason was that Russia feared becoming involved in a war with the Allies, who were using Finland’s predicament as a pretext to press the Scandinavian countries into permitting them to open a Northern front against Germany. Russia was also eager to start her long-planned Balkan drive. But even more important was Germany’s rôle in this whole affair. While Germany was willing to allow Russia to strengthen herself in the Baltic, knowing full well that it was at her own expense – this was the price she was willing to pay for Russian neutrality and economic help – Germany did not want the Allies to open a Northern front. She would brook no interference with what was to her the main war.

At first Germany denied having started the Russo-Finnish peace negotiations, but after the treaty was signed, a well-informed German controlled newspaper commented: “Now one can reveal that Germany was in the center of all the moves which led up to the peace negotiations and to the signing of peace. During the preparatory campaign for peace, Berlin was in regular contact with Moscow.”

On March 12, 1940, a peace treaty was signed, the terms of which differed little from the terms Moscow had offered Helsinki during October and November. Finland ceded to Russia the entire Karelian peninsula, parts of Rybachi and Sredni peninsulas and a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland. Finland was to lease to Russia the Hanko Peninsula for a period of thirty years. In return, Russia agreed to withdraw its military forces from the Petsamo area. The peace, however, was short-lived.

The Fall of France and the Balkans

The fall of France alarmed Moscow to the point of panic. The Russo-German pact had been signed by the Russians in the hope that a long-drawn-out war between Germany and the Western powers would either exhaust both sides or, if war became unavoidable for Russia, it would at least give her sufficient time to prepare. The successes of the German blitzkrieg upset these calculations, and Russia seemed to be Hitler’s next target. Between June 15 and 30, 1940, Russia therefore speeded up her westward drive. Should the war come to a speedy end, Russia wished to present the peace conference with accomplished facts. She occupied and incorporated (and nationalized) the Baltic states, Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and concentrated large forces on the German frontier. Next came the occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, demands on Finland that the Aland Islands be demilitarized, the establishment, for the first time since the revolution, of diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia, mobilization of Russian economy for war, the increased work day and new, severe discipline for the workers in industry, and finally the acceleration of the reorganization of the Red Army, which had begun at the close of the Finnish war.

It is quite true that after the fall of France, Hitler faced the dilemma: which way next, East against Russia or the continuation of the war against the West, namely, England. A number of very practical military reasons underlay the decision against an immediate attack in the East, but while Hitler concentrated his military forces against England, he began a feverish campaign in the Balkans to lay the diplomatic groundwork for the anti-Russian alliance with was to aid in the future attack on Russia. Under the cloak of friendship, Germany had decided against any further expansion by Russia in Eastern Europe. Acquiescence in the case of Bessarabia was to be the last concession. Hitler’s Axis partner, Italy, which viewed Russia’s Balkan policy as a special threat to herself, found the new German policy particularly agreeable. Moscow recognized the significance of this change, and while keeping up the fiction of continued friendship with the Reich, pursued her own diplomatic campaign in the Balkans.

During the diplomatic tug-of-war, both sides found it to their advantage to keep up the myth of great friendship for each other. For example, Molotov declared in August, 1940, in a speech before the Supreme Soviet: “We can only emphasize again and again that friendly relations (between the two> countries) are based, not upon accidental considerations of a conjectural nature, but upon basic principles of state interests ...” Two months later, the official Völkischer Beobachter wrote: “Since the conclusion of the German-Soviet pact, nothing has occurred that could disturb the newly regulated relations of both states. That pact has proved so fruitful that the impetus which led to its conclusion is now stronger than ever..’

Behind this facade of declared love and everlasting friendship, the struggle continued. In November, Molotov accepted von Ribbentrop’s invitation to visit Berlin for the purpose of settling a number of urgent questions. (During this visit the Russian Foreign Minister brought greetings from the Russian Communist Party to the German Nazi organization.) Although the true facts surrounding the conferences in Berlin have been revealed only gradually and piecemeal, it is known that Hitler proposed that Russia become a full-fledged partner in the Triple Alliance, a proposal which Molotov turned down. Germany was motivated by a desire to unify the Axis camp by (i) strengthening the rapprochement between Russia and Japan, (2) subordinating Russian economy to an even greater extent to German war needs, and (3) impressing England with Germany’s military invincibility. Much as the Russians wished to maintain Russo-German collaboration, they found this step too costly and refused to join what they correctly considered a military bloc completely subservient to Germany’s war needs. Thus the attempt to cement the widening cracks in Russo-German relations ended in failure.

In the diplomatic struggle which ensued, Germany succeeded in winning to the Triple Alliance one after another of Russia’s small neighbors: Hungary, Bulgaria (bribed with the cession of Southern Dobrudja, an act forced on Rumania by Germany) and Finland. Yugoslavia, which attempted to resist German encroachments, was overrun in eleven days and its government sent into exile. Here an interesting development occurred. As late as May 1941 Russia, trying to appease Hitler, withdrew recognition from the Yugoslav government in exile, in violation of the treaty she had signed with that country. Only in August, after the break with Germany, did Russia announce that the Russo-Yugoslav pact of April 5 remained in force.

The End of the Hitler-Stalin Pact

By the end of April 1941 war between Russia and Germany seemed inevitable. Every attempt to patch up the differences between the two countries ended in failure – Germany demanded what Russia could not give, namely, complete subordination to the war needs of the Reich through German control over Ukrainian heavy industry, demobilization of the Red Army, and, thirdly, agreement by Russia to work on military orders to Germany and to increase the export of Russian raw materials to Germany?

Why did Hitler suddenly change his strategy? In the first place, the war with England had lasted much longer than he had calculated, and the British, by expanding their industry and with increased aid from the United States, were rapidly overcoming the superiority which Germany had initially enjoyed. Hitler understood that as the United States threw more and more of her weight into the war, he would need a strong naval power to counterbalance it, namely, the active intervention of Japan. Relations between Tokyo and Moscow were such that the former wished to be assured of complete Russian neutrality before becoming involved in the conflict. Russia’s resistance to joining the Triple Alliance, however, was anything but reassuring to Japan. As Dallin puts it:

To fight England, Germany needed Japan’s active aid. Japan, in turn, needed the certainty of Soviet neutrality; to assure this neutrality, Germany found herself at war with Russia.

It is not true, as the Stalinist bureaucrats claim, that the German attack took Russia completely by surprise. In the first instance, Russo-German collaboration had been on the downgrade for some time and the aims of each of the partners were becoming more and more divergent. Secondly, Germany had given numerous hints that she was willing to make peace with England in order to turn to the East. In this way, Hitler was ready to betray his Japanese ally, but honor counts for little where more imperialist interests are involved. It was not love of the Russian people that prompted England to reject Hitler’s proposals, but rather that his terms, mastery of Europe, were unacceptable to John Bull. Hess’ mission to England, while it did not have official German sanction, at least had Hitler’s sympathy.

In May von Papen approached the Turkish Foreign Minister, Saracoglu, with a request that he act as intermediary between England and Germany. These, and numerous other German proposals, were forwarded to Moscow by London through Ivan Maisky. From Berlin, Russian diplomats and correspondents informed Moscow of the exact date of the coming German attack. As a matter of fact, by the end of May and in early June, the Red Army had begun large-scale maneuvers in the entire Western zone, and was later concentrated along the Russo-German border. All leaves were cancelled, the Baltic fleet was mobilized, all roads leading to Rumania were mined, bridges on the Lithuanian border were destroyed and entire villages evacuated.

Russia in the Camp of the Allies

Hitler’s attack in June 1941 catapulted Stalin into the camp of the Allies. It is not, as Dallin states, the realization of the “most realistic policy of all,” but rather a continuation of Russian foreign policy in the Stalinist era. This policy is not altered by a change in alliances. Only superficially is there a difference. Instead of “Anglo-American imperialism” there is now “Nazi barbarism.” But the motivation of Russian policy remains the same.

Inside the Allied camp, Russia again plays the rôle of a subordinate partner seeking to enhance her independence and position with relation to her allies. In spite of Stalin’s statement during the early months of the war to Russia does not aim to destroy the German state and that she will content herself with driving the invaders from her soil, the appetites and ambitions of Moscow have scarcely been concealed. With every favorable turn in Russia’s military situation, Moscow’s demands for territorial annexations grow. Moreover, Stalin’s declarations with respect to Germany are contradicted by the Kremlin propagandists, who promise that the proper revenge will be taken on the Reich. Under cover of complete understanding and friendship with England and the United States, Russia continues to jockey for position, playing off the differences and disagreements between the two major partners within the United Nations. Moscow wants at least part of Finland, Eastern Poland, Bessarabia, parts of Rumania, part of Manchuria, access to the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Both England and America are already considering the “justice” of some of Russia’s territorial claims!

Each member of the Allied coalition, therefore, is trying desperately, while cooperating in the main war against the Axis, to improve its own position at the expense of the others. For the question of who shall control Europe is an acute matter to all the powers. In the long run, each one knows that it is economic and military force alone that will decide. In the meantime, diplomacy is the means by which each partner tries to maneuver into the most advantageous spot. Russian diplomacy can be understood only in this light. Its whole foreign policy must be evaluated against the background of what the Russian state is, who rules within and who conducts its foreign affairs.


1. Soviet Russia’s Foreign Policy, 1939–1942, by David J. Dallin. Yale University Press, New Haven: 452 pages.

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