Stalin’s Cold War: Soviet Foreign Policy, Democracy and Communism in Bulgaria, 1941–48

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Stalin’s Cold War: Soviet Foreign Policy, Democracy and Communism in Bulgaria, 1941-48

Stalin and Molotov were aware of this, with Molotov stating that when figures such as Tito and Dimitrov speak, it is equivalent to all of the USSR speaking. While at times he had praised their attempts at rebelling against the West, he did not want it to result in direct conflict, especially with the United States. For Stalin, looking at Yugoslav actions in the broader context of the emerging Cold War, their antagonisms of the West were not worth leading into all out conflict, which Stalin knew would result in defeat. Therefore, it is clear that the disagreements over Greece were central to the conflict, for that they exposed substantial foreign policy differences between Tito and Stalin.

For Stalin, he was increasingly interested in consolidating power in states where Communism had already been established, and advocating parliamentary socialism in democratic states. Thus, any antagonisms of the West had to originate from Stalin rather than one of the puppet states. Conversely, Tito, was more vociferous in his attacks against the West and sought to continue to export revolution.

Thirdly, and proving to be the pivotal factor, was the disagreement over a proposed Balkan federation. The notion of a Balkan federation is old, with it becoming a goal of Balkan Socialism as early as the nineteenth century. To do this, as early as mid, he proposed the idea of forming a united headquarters of the partisan movements of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece.

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This goal ultimately failed though, as Tito was unwilling to agree on a structure that provided each member with an equal voice. This proved of little concern to Stalin, who was disinterested in the state, and had little involvement in its rebellion against Axis control. However, Tito not only sought ties with Albania but also across the entire Balkan region. Tito and Bulgarian leader Dimitrov had met throughout and the first significant step took place in August of that year, when Yugoslavia and Bulgaria signed the Yugoslav-Bulgarian Treaty on Friendship and Mutual Assistance, known as the Bled Agreement.

This acted as a prelude to a customs union and was enacted without the approval nor knowledge of Moscow. In response to the announcement, Stalin summoned Yugoslavia and Bulgaria to Moscow. The main goal of this meeting was to reinforce both Tito who refused to go and was represented by Kardelj and Dimitrov that the Soviet Union should remain the preeminent force in Eastern Europe.

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What proved surprising was that instead of Stalin opposing the concept of the federation, he was in favour of it. However this is not the case. For Stalin, at this stage in his career now a veteran of diplomacy, was aware that some form of union between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria was becoming increasingly inevitable. Therefore, with Stalin proposing two other federations between Poland and Czechoslovakia, and Romania and Hungary, this would diminish the potential for Yugoslav influence. If Stalin were to achieve this, he would have managed to carve up Eastern Europe into three sizeable states, with all three wielding approximately equal influence, yet all significantly weaker than the Soviet Union.

This would have corresponded with Soviet thinking at the time, which was becoming increasingly preoccupied with American attempts to increase its influence across Europe. Between then and the next few months, extraordinary messages were exchanged between members of the Soviet and Yugoslav hierarchy, where each side accused the other of multiple crimes.

When inferring from the deterioration in the relationship it appears that the Soviet Union had exhausted all viable methods of aiming to control Tito. As has been aforementioned these had failed. However, what proved different in the incidences of Albania, Greece and Balkan Federation, was that they had occurred at a time when Stalin was attempting to cement his hegemony over Eastern Europe. This can be reinforced as during the same period, Moscow also heavily criticised the Polish and Czechoslovak leadership, accusing them of committing similar crimes as Yugoslavia. In sum, this essay firstly dismissed the views espoused by Cominform and then by Vladimir Dedijer.

This was problematic for Stalin, who towards the end of , increasingly wanted to cement Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe, amidst fears of American expansion into Europe and heightened tensions with the West.

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Stalin therefore, had become progressively more conservative in his foreign policy outlook, in sharp contrast to the revolutionary exuberance of Tito. This essay has demonstrated this through the major flashpoints of Albania, Greece and a proposed Balkan Federation, where in all three cases Yugoslavia had challenged Soviet supremacy. This had originated in the s, and increased during the Second World War. In addition, it has also used the work of Swain to argue that there was an ideological determinant in the split, over the role of popular fronts.

This reinforces the view that Yugoslavia posed a threat to Soviet hegemony. Banac, I.

Beneš and the Soviets

Bjelakovic, N. Clissold, S. Craig Nation, R. Dedijer, V. Djilas, M. Conversations with Stalin London: Hart-Davis, Oxford, pp. Gibianskii, L. Kennedy, P. Kennedy-Pipe, C.

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Soviet Foreign Policy, Democracy and Communism in Bulgaria, offers a major new interpretation of the Stalin's role in the gestation of the Cold War. Stalin's Cold War: Soviet foreign policy, democracy and communism in Bulgaria, – David Wolff Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido.

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