• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11

Why did the Soviet Union maintain a presence in Eastern Europe? And why did Gorbachev seek to change the pattern of Soviet involvement there?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Why did the Soviet Union maintain a presence in Eastern Europe? And why did Gorbachev seek to change the pattern of Soviet involvement there? This paper will introduce the development of Soviet internationalism alongside the development of Soviet interests in Eastern Europe. It will be argued that the Soviet interests which developed out of the Wars became fixed alongside the ideology behind internationalism. The legacy of Stalinism influenced the development of Soviet policy toward Eastern Europe and Soviet internationalism and the Cold war meant that the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe would persist until Gorbachev. The Soviets could not consider withdrawing from Eastern Europe so long as they were governed by an ideology which viewed the world as two distinct and opposing camps. The development and persistence of Soviet Internationalism Soviet interests in Eastern Europe developed through its desire to end strategic vulnerabilities Russia had endured since Napoleon. The ease of access to the heartlands of Russia through Eastern Europe meant that the Russian strategic meant that the Russian strategic focus lay on securing themselves against the kind of attacks they suffered during the First World War and The Second World War. The Second World War provided the Soviet Union an opportunity to end another strategic frailty-access to warm seas. According to D'Encausse, "throughout its history as a continental power, Russia has dreamed of an opening to the sea and has battled to reach that goal" (D'Encausse, H, 1987, pg. 3). The Soviet Union had grown powerful toward the end of the Second World War with its military straddling much of Eastern Europe. ...read more.

Middle

With one hand Eastern European communist parties were given the right to adopt different paths to development but on the other, the actual power of the communist parties to go against the principle of democratic centralism was limited. The implementation of different paths to communism was restricted because "any discussion of theirs must damage neither socialism in their own country nor the fundamental interest of the other socialist countries nor the worldwide workers' movement, which is waging a struggle for socialism" and "whoever forgets this by placing sole emphasis on the autonomy and independence of communist parties lapses into one-sidedness, shirking his internationalist obligations" (Pravda, September 26, 1968, cited in Gati,C, 1990, pg. 47). Soviet interests in Eastern Europe The foremost reason that the Soviets remained in Eastern Europe for so long despite persistent crisis were because it acted as a defensive buffer against Western European states. The defensive 'glacis' was held to be particularly important in the aftermath of the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War and the arms race further increased the importance of ensuring that western influence was kept at bay in Eastern Europe. The Cold War also established Eastern Europe as a base for maintaining an offensive threat against the west. For Brown, there are three aspects of Soviet offensive strategy in Eastern Europe-these are first ideological grounds in which "Eastern Europe is the advance guard of the world communist movement"; second, its military use "for purposes either of intimidation or actual aggression; finally, in its political use, "Eastern Europe is a suitable base for political initiatives and propaganda designed to manipulate Western Europe and particularly the Federal Republic of Germany" (Brown, J, cited in Vine, R (ed), 1987, pg. ...read more.

Conclusion

is that the failure of Soviet policy to properly impress communist values into the people of Eastern Europe for whatever reason meant that the people were still influenced by western attitudes. The tendency of Eastern Europeans to compare their situation with the west rather than other parts of the Union meant that Moscow became the target for any blame for the economic position. The people of Eastern Europe ceased on the first opportunity granted them by Gorbachev to push for withdrawal from the Union. Whether it was crucial underestimation of the potential for popular unrest in Eastern Europe given these sweeping reforms or a conscious decision to initiate a controlled withdrawal from Eastern Europe is a subject of much debate. The blame for the collapse is similarly contentious. But the underlying reasons for Gorbachev's reform of the relationship with Eastern Europe roughly correlate with the gradual realisation that the reasons to remain in Eastern Europe no longer existed. These reasons overlap with the main area arguments for the collapse. Economically the Soviet Union was bearing the cost of the relationship. Gorbachev had reformed the party ideology as far as foreign policy was concerned by rejecting the Brezhnev doctrine and his new political thinking began to promote the view that the west was to be viewed as an opportunity rather than a fearsome opponent. Militarily the strategic reasons for maintaining control of Eastern Europe were outweighed by the financial cost. Finally and most crucially, the decision not to use force to 'rescue' the communist parties of Eastern European countries from popular unrest meant that when push came to shove the Soviets had no other solution. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Superpower Relations 1945-90

    Mikhail Gorbachev came to power with two main problems: the disastrous state of the Soviet economy and the strains of the Cold War. Gorbachev realised that these problems were interrelated. * The Soviet economy was bankrupt because it could not afford to support communist countries all over the world AND compete with the USA in the nuclear arms race.

  2. Why did tension increase in Europe between 1900 and 1914?

    It was the communist equivalent of NATO. * The Pact was set up in 1955, because in that year the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was allowed to join NATO. * The USSR was very concerned at this, as Germany had invaded Russia twice in the twentieth century.

  1. How secure was the USSR’s control over Eastern Europe 1948-89?

    Profile of Lech Walesa * Born 1943 * Like many of his fellow pupils at school he went to work in the shipyards in Gdansk. He became an electrician. * In 1970 he led shipyard workers who joined the strike against price rises.

  2. Free essay

    How and why did the Soviet Union establish control over eastern Europe between 1945 ...

    At the same time, the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) was set up by Stalin to promote a common path of development; it had a political aim and all communist European countries had to be members, to draw them together. A secondary aim was to spread effective propaganda throughout Europe.

  1. How far should Gorbachev be blamed for the collapse of the Soviet Union?

    "Information, slew the totalitarian giant" (Scott Shane) In essence, glasnost gave the people more freedom to be discontented with the system and the way the Government controlled their lives in general. Gorbachev implemented glasnost to enhance efficiency but in return the people merely voiced their discontent for the current government,

  2. In the context of the period 1905-2005, how far do you agree that Khrushchev ...

    Was it utterly ?necessary?, to liquidate the most prosperous and agriculturally beneficial class in Russia? Where there no other alternatives, which would show the same output as collectivisation and yet keep this class?[31] The Virgin Lands Scheme was the alternative solution pioneered by Khrushchev, yet the alternative agricultural strategy was always available.

  1. How significant was the presence of foreign powers as an influence on the nature ...

    Martin Kramer supports this by highlighting how young colonels, such as Nasser now wanted to ??propel the Arab world to unity, power and prosperity.??[6] The creation of the PLO in 1964 supports this by demonstrating the anti-imperialistic views Nasser wanted to implement, and by doing so, making his anti Zionist

  2. Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

    His suspicions of Western hostility were not unfounded: the British and U.S. intervention in the Russian Civil War were still fresh in Stalin's memory when he took power. Furthermore, Stalin was wary because he was not informed of U.S. nuclear capabilities, therefore a lack of trust between the major powers was existent.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work