By 1920 the Bolsheviks were in a very weak position and Russia as a whole had to come to terms with its own vulnerability in a hostile world. Stalin decided on the extension of the soviet control to eastern Europe. This policy aimed to protect the interests rather than stirring up world revolution. In other words it was too become defensive rather than aggressive, however the west refused to believe this and still had there minds set that Stalin was planning the spread of world revolution.
This is what I will discuss in my essay, was it defensive or expansionist? Firstly I’ll look at why the people believed it was expansionist, in other words to spread world communism. Stalin had always believed in communist revolution. This was also seen by Truman which introduced the permanent revolution. This was the belief that Russia would not survive because of conflict between capitalism and communism was inevitable.
However at the time Stalin put this too the side as he thought it wasn’t important but it wasn’t forgotten in the future.
One of the main reasons that people believed that Stalin was too expand rather than be defensive was the introduction of Comintern. This was an organisation to factilate contacts between communist groups throughout the world. It encouraged people ( communists) to stir up unrest across Europe. Another significant event to consider which supports this view is the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
To the west the imposition of communist governments on eastern Europe, the civil war in Greece, where communist were attempting to remove the monarchists, the takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948 and the soviet blockade of Berlin in 1948-9 were all seen as evidence of Stalin’s intention to spread communism.
One last key reason was Keenan views, he said that foreign threats would mobilise the population in order to secure its own position. However this view by the West and communism was misleading as they based there views on assumptions.
They didn’t have a understanding of the motives and the reality of the soviet position in 1945. On the other hand some say that Stalin’s motives appeared to be more defensive. Soviet foreign policy must be seen within the context of western hostility in the USSR, which has existed since its beginning, One reasons people see it as defensive and some solid evidence of this was the buffer zone which was created by Stalin, this was to protect the soviet union from invasion from the west.
In 1945 exhaustion occurred due to the war effort and made the USSR concerned to protect its borders, this is an example of defensive Expansion. After the war there was a sense of insecurity and Stalin responded by being defensive, Him and his minister itemised the destruction of towns, villages, industrial complexes and collective farms. This resulted in the soviets being obsessed with security, which is a massive defensive issue and they introduced a zone of satellite states in Eastern Europe.
The security could only be safeguard by a ring of buffer states in eastern Europe,e He hoped that other countries would be friendly to the soviet union, he took firm measures to ensure this. It wasn’t until later than Stalin insisted on communist regimes in the Stalinist model as a response to a us policy towards the USSR. Shortly after this free elections saw Stalin agree to the Yalta would not guarantee the USSR the security it needed. Greece could be left to the west but eastern Europe was not negotiable.
This resulted in the soviet union feeling they deserved the right to impose control of the region to secure its defensive needs. However communism was spread to eastern Europe Overall I believe that the soviet union was bait defensive and a bit expansionist. Soviet foreign policy under Stalin was dominated by the cautions implementation of the defensive strategy to secure the interests of the USSR. However the US government clouded by notions of world communism revolution failed to understand this and they misunderstood the whole situation, and Stalin’s lack of skills led the Misconceptions around the world.