J. V. Stalin

The Union of the Soviet Republics

Report Delivered at the Tenth All-Russian Congress of Soviets 1
December 26, 1922

Source : Works, Vol. 5, 1921 - 1923
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

Comrades, a few days ago, before this congress began, the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee received a number of resolutions from Congresses of Soviets of the Transcaucasian republics, the Ukraine and Byelorussia on the desirability and necessity of uniting these republics into a single union state. The Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee has had this question under consideration and has declared that such a union is opportune. As a result of its resolution, the question of uniting the republics is included in the agenda of this congress.

The campaign for the union of the Soviet Socialist Republics began some three or four months ago. The initiative was taken by the Azerbaijanian, Armenian and Georgian Republics, which were later joined by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian Republics. The idea of the campaign is that the old treaty relations—the relations established by the conventions between the R.S.F.S.R. and the other Soviet republics—have served their purpose and are no longer adequate. The idea of the campaign is that we must inevitably pass from the old treaty relations to relations based on a closer union—relations which imply the creation of a single union state with corresponding Union executive and legislative organs, with a Central Executive Committee and a Council of People's Commissars of the Union. To put it briefly, it is now, in the course of the campaign, proposed that what was formerly decided from time to time, within the framework of convention relations, should be put on a permanent basis.

What are the reasons that impel the republics to take the path of union? What are the circumstances that have determined the necessity for union?

Three groups of circumstances have made the union of the Soviet republics into a single union state inevitable.

The first group of circumstances consists of facts relating to our internal economic situation.

First, the meagreness of the economic resources left at the disposal of the republics after seven years of war. This compels us to combine these meagre resources so as to employ them more rationally and to develop the main branches of our economy which form the backbone of Soviet power in all the republics.

Secondly, the historically evolved natural division of labour, the economic division of labour, between the various regions and republics of our federation. For instance, the North supplies the South and East with textiles, the South and East supply the North with cotton, fuel, and so forth. And this division of labour established between the regions cannot be eliminated by a mere stroke of the pen: it has been created historically by the whole course of economic development of the federation. And this division of labour, which makes the full development of the individual regions impossible as long as each republic leads a separate existence, is compelling the republics to unite in a single economic whole.

Thirdly, the unity of the principal means of communication in the entire federation, constituting the nerves and foundation of any possible union. It goes without saying that the means of communication cannot be allowed to have a divided existence, at the disposal of the individual republics and subordinated to their interests for that would convert the main nerve of economic life— transport—into a conglomeration of separate parts utilised without a plan. This circumstance also inclines the republics towards union into a single state.

Lastly, the meagreness of our financial resources Comrades, it must be bluntly stated that our financial position now, in the sixth year of existence of the Soviet regime, has far less opportunities for large-scale development than, for instance, under the old regime which had vodka, which we will not have, yielding 500,000,000 rubles per annum, and which possessed foreign credits to the amount of several hundred million rubles, which we also do not have. All this goes to show that with such meagre opportunities for our financial development we shall not succeed in solving the fundamental and current problems of the financial systems of our republics unless we join forces and combine the financial strength of the individual republics into a single whole.

Such is the first group of circumstances that are impelling our republics to take the path of union.

The second group of circumstances that have determined the union of the republics are facts relating to our international situation. I have in mind our military situation. I have in mind our relations with foreign capital through the Commissariat of Foreign Trade. Lastly, I have in mind our diplomatic relations with the bourgeois states. It must be remembered, comrades, that in spite of the fact that our republics have happily emerged from the condition of civil war, the danger of attack from without is by no means excluded. This danger demands that our military front should be absolutely united, that our army should be an absolutely united army, particularly now that we have taken the path, not of moral disarmament, of course, but of a real, material reduction of armaments. Now that we have reduced our army to 600,000 men, it is particularly essential to have a single and continuous military front capable of safeguarding the republic against external danger.

Furthermore, apart from the military danger, there is the danger of the economic isolation of our federation.

You know that although the economic boycott of our Republic failed after Genoa and The Hague, and after Urquhart, 2 no great influx of capital for the needs of our economy is to be observed. There is a danger of our republics being economically isolated. This new form of intervention, which is no less dangerous than military intervention, can be eliminated only by the creation of a united economic front of our Soviet republics in face of the capitalist encirclement.

Lastly, there is our diplomatic situation. You have all seen how, recently, on the eve of the Lausanne Con-ference, 3 the Entente states made every effort to isolate our federation. Diplomatically, they did not succeed. The organised diplomatic boycott of our federation was broken. The Entente was forced to reckon with our federation and to withdraw, to retreat to some extent. But there are no grounds for assuming that these and similar facts about the diplomatic isolation of our federation will not be repeated. Hence the necessity for a united front also in the diplomatic field.

Such is the second group of circumstances that are impelling the Soviet Socialist Republics to take the path of union.

Both the first and the second groups of circumstances have operated up to the present day, being in force during the whole period of the existence of the Soviet regime. Our economic needs, of which I have just spoken, as well as our military and diplomatic needs in the sphere of foreign policy were, undoubtedly, also felt before the present day. But those circumstances have acquired special force only now, after the termination of the Civil War, when the republics have for the first time obtained the opportunity to start economic construction, and for the first time realise how very meagre their economic resources are, and how very necessary union is as regards both internal economy and foreign relations. That is why now, in the sixth year of existence of the Soviet regime, the question of uniting the independent Soviet Socialist Republics has become an immediate one.

Finally, there is a third group of facts, which also call for union and which are associated with the structure of the Soviet regime, with the class nature of the Soviet regime. The Soviet regime is so constructed that, being international in its intrinsic nature, it in every way fosters the idea of union among the masses and itself impels them to take the path of union. Whereas capital, private property and exploitation disunite people, split them into mutually hostile camps, examples of which are provided by Great Britain, France and even small multi-national states like Poland and Yugoslavia with their irreconcilable internal national contradictions which corrode the very foundations of these states— whereas, I say, over there, in the West, where capitalist democracy reigns and where the states are based on private property, the very basis of the state fosters national bickering, conflicts and struggle, here, in the world of Soviets, where the regime is based not on capital but on labour, where the regime is based not on private property, but on collective property, where the regime is based not on the exploitation of man by man, but on the struggle against such exploitation, here, on the contrary, the very nature of the regime fosters among the labouring masses a natural striving towards union in a single socialist family.

Is it not significant that whereas over there, in the West, in the world of bourgeois democracy, we are witnessing the gradual decline and disintegration of the multi-national states into their component parts (as in the case of Great Britain, which has to settle matters with India, Egypt and Ireland, how, I do not know, or as in the case of Poland, which has to settle matters with its Byelorussians and Ukrainians, how, I do not know either), here, in our federation, which unites no fewer than thirty nationalities, we, on the contrary, are witnessing a process by which the state ties between the independent republics are becoming stronger, a process which is leading to an ever closer union of the independent nationalities in a single independent state! Thus you have two types of state union, of which the first, the capitalist type, leads to the disintegration of the state, while the second, the Soviet type, on the contrary, leads to a gradual but enduring union of formerly independent nationalities into a single independent state. Such is the third group of facts that are impelling the individual republics to take the path of union.

What should be the form of the union of the republics? The principles of the union are outlined in the resolutions which the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee has received from the Soviet Republics of the Ukraine, Byelorussia and Transcaucasia.

Four Republics are to unite: the R.S.F.S.R. as an integral federal unit, the Transcaucasian Republic, also as an integral federal unit, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia. Two independent Soviet Republics, Khorezm and Bukhara, which are not Socialist Republics, but People's Soviet Republics, remain for the time being outside this union solely and exclusively because these republics are not yet socialist. I have no doubt, comrades, and I hope that you too have no doubt, that, as they develop internally towards socialism, these republics will also join the union state which is now being formed.

It might seem to be more expedient for the R.S.F.S.R. not to join the Union of Republics as an integral federal unit, but that the republics comprising it should join individually, for which purpose it would evidently be necessary to dissolve the R.S.F.S.R. into its component parts. I think that this way would be irrational and inexpedient, and that it is precluded by the very course of the campaign. First, the effect would be that, parallel with the process that is leading to the union of the republics, we would have a process of disuniting the already existing federal units, a process that would upset the truly revolutionary process of union of the republics which has already begun. Secondly, if we took this wrong road we would arrive at a situation in which we would have to separate out of the R.S.F.S.R., in addition to the eight autonomous republics, a specifically Russian Central Executive Committee and a Russian Council of People's Commissars, and this would lead to considerable organisational perturbations, which are entirely unnecessary and harmful at the present time, and which are not in the least demanded by either the internal or external situation. That is why I think that the parties to the formation of the union should be the four Republics: the R.S.F.S.R., the Transcaucasian Federation, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia.

The treaty of union must be based on the following principles: Commissariats of Foreign Trade, Military and Naval Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Transport, and Posts and Telegraphs shall be set up only within the Council of People's Commissars of the Union. The People's Commissariats of Finance, National Economy, Food, Labour, and State Inspection shall continue to function within each of the contracting republics, with the proviso that they operate in accordance with the instructions of the corresponding central Commissariats of the Union. This is necessary in order that the forces of the labouring masses of the republics may be united under the direction of the Union centre as regards food supply, the Supreme Council of National Economy, the People's Commissariat of Finance, and the People's Commissariat of Labour. Lastly, the remaining Commissariats, i.e., the Commissariats of Internal Affairs, Justice, Education,

Agriculture, and so on—there are six in all—which are directly connected with the manner of life, customs, special forms of land settlement, special forms of legal procedure, and with the language and culture of the peoples forming the republics, must be left as independent Commissariats under the control of the Central Executive Committees and Councils of People's Commissars of the contracting republics. This is necessary in order to provide a real guarantee of freedom of national development for the peoples of the Soviet republics.

Such, in my opinion, are the principles that must be made the basis of the treaty that is shortly to be signed between our republics.

Accordingly, I move the following draft resolution, which has been approved by the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee:

1. The union of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, the Transcau-casian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and the Byelorussian Socialist Soviet Republic into a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is to be regarded as opportune.

2. The union is to be based on the principle of voluntary consent and equal rights of the republics, each of which shall retain the right freely to secede from the Union of Republics.

3. The delegation from the R.S.F.S.R., in collaboration with the delegations from the Ukraine, the Transcaucasian Republic and Byelorussia, is to be instructed to draft a declaration on the formation of the Union of Republics, setting forth the considerations which dictate the union of the republics into a single union state.

4. The delegation is to be instructed to draw up the terms on which the R.S.F.S.R. is to enter the Union of Republics and when examining the treaty of union, is to adhere to the following principles:

a) the formation of the appropriate Union legislative and executive organs;

b) the merging of the Commissariats of Military and Naval Affairs, Transport, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Posts and Telegraphs;

c) the subordination of the Commissariats of Finance, Food, National Economy, Labour, and Workers' and Peasants' Inspection of the contracting republics to the instructions of the corresponding Commissariats of the Union of Republics;

d) complete guarantee of national development for the peoples belonging to the contracting republics.

5. The draft treaty is to be submitted for the approval of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee represented by its Presidium before it is submitted to the First Congress of the Union of Republics.

6. On the basis of the approval of the terms of union by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, the delegation is to be empowered to conclude a treaty between the R.S.F.S.R. and the Socialist Soviet Republics of the Ukraine, Transcaucasia and Byelorussia for the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

7. The treaty is to be submitted for ratification to the First Congress of the Union of Republics.

Such is the draft resolution I submit for your consideration.

Comrades, since the Soviet republics were formed, the states of the world have split into two camps: the camp of socialism and the camp of capitalism. In the camp of capitalism there are imperialist wars, national strife, oppression, colonial slavery and chauvinism. In the camp of the Soviets, the camp of socialism, there are, on the contrary, mutual confidence, national equality of rights and the peaceful co-existence and fraternal co-operation of peoples. Capitalist democracy has been striving for decades to eliminate national contradictions by combining the free development of nationalities with the system of exploitation. So far it has not succeeded, and it will not succeed. On the contrary, the skein of national contradictions is becoming more and more entangled, threatening capitalism with death. Here alone, in the world of the Soviets, in the camp of socialism, has it been possible to eradicate national oppression and to establish mutual confidence and fraternal co-operation between peoples. And only after the Soviets succeeded in doing this did it become possible for us to build up our federation and to defend it against the attack of the enemies, both internal and external.

Five years ago the Soviet power succeeded in laying the foundation for the peaceful co-existence and fraternal co-operation of peoples. Now, when we here are deciding the question of the desirability and necessity of union, the task before us is to erect on this foundation a new edifice by forming a new and mighty union state of the working people. The will of the peoples of our republics, who recently assembled at their congresses and unanimously resolved to form a Union of Republics, is incontestable proof that the cause of union is on the right road, that it is based on the great principle of voluntary consent and equal rights for nations. Let us hope, comrades, that by forming our Union Republic we shall create a reliable bulwark against international capitalism, and that the new Union State will be another decisive step towards the union of the working people of the whole world into a World Soviet Socialist Republic. (Prolonged applause. The "Internationale" is sung.)


Pravda, No. 295, December 28, 1922


1. The Tenth All-Russian Congress of Soviets took place in Moscow on December 23-27, 1922. There were present 2,215 delegates, of whom 488 were delegates from the treaty republics — the Trans-caucasian S.F.S.R., the Ukrainian S.S.R. and the Byelorussian S.S.R.—who had come to Moscow to attend the First Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. and had been invited to attend the Tenth All-Russian Congress as guests of honour. The Tenth All-Russian Congress of Soviets discussed the following: report of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars on the republic's home and foreign policy; report on the state of industry; report of the People's Commissariat of Agriculture (summary of work done to improve peasant farming); report of the People's Commissariat of Education; report of the People's Commissariat of Finance; proposal of the treaty Soviet republics on the creation of a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On December 26, J. V. Stalin delivered a report on uniting the Soviet republics. The resolution moved by him was adopted unanimously. After J. V. Stalin had delivered his report, the representatives of the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Byelorussia addressed the congress and on behalf of their respective peoples welcomed the union of the Soviet republics into a single union state — the U.S.S.R.

2. This refers to the negotiations of the Soviet Government with the British industrialist Urquhart for the conclusion of a concession agreement for the exploitation of mineral deposits in the Urals and in Kazakhstan. The draft agreement was rejected by the Council of People's Commissars on October 6, 1922, owing to the extortionate terms demanded by Urquhart, and also to the British Conservative Government's hostile policy towards Soviet Russia. The Soviet Government's refusal to conclude an agreement with Urquhart served the bourgeois press as a pretext for intensifying its anti-Soviet campaign.

3. The Lausanne Conference (November 20, 1922 to July 24, 1923) was called on the initiative of France, Great Britain and Italy to discuss the Near Eastern question (conclusion of a peace treaty between Greece and Turkey, delimitation of Turkey's frontiers, adoption of a convention governing the Straits, etc.). In addition to the above-mentioned countries, the following were represented: Japan, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey (representatives of the United States were present as observers). Soviet Russia was invited to the conference only for the discussion of the question of the Straits (the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles). At the conference, in the Commission on the Straits, the Soviet delegation opposed the proposal that the Straits be open for warships both during peace and war, and submitted its own proposal that the Straits be completely closed to the warships of all powers except Turkey. This proposalwasrejectedbythecommission.