What were the Aims and Achievements of Stalins Foreign Policy between 1928 and 1941?

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What were the Aims and Achievements of Stalin’s Foreign Policy between 1928 and 1941?

By 1941, Stalin’s Russia would face one of the most brutal onslaughts in her turbulent history, as a direct result of the lack of foresight and diplomatic skill of the Soviet Leader in pursuing a consistent foreign policy between 1928 and 1941. In the opinion of historian Stephen Lee, Stalinist foreign policy ‘at its best was skilful, confident and effective, at its worst was blundering, uncertain and ruinous’ – it was this seeming inability to commit to a single path or principle that characterised the constant oscillation of Stalin’s preference between isolationism, cooperation with Germany, formation of a popular front with Allied Powers, dogged pursuit of collective security and the culmination of a ‘dangerously naive’ outlook, according to Robert Service, that resulted in the ‘stunning coup’, described by Lee, that was the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

Russian international relations were in a sorry state by 1928. After unsuccessful wars and easily quelled half-hearted attempts to catalyse a World Revolution, newly established Bolshevik Leader Stalin imposed the austere domestic policies of collectivisation and rapid industrialisation, often at the price of liberty, upon the Soviets in order to become so self-sufficient that the foreign alliances in which their country was sorely lacking would become unnecessary. The reason for the self-imposed political isolation experienced by Russia in the late 1920s was thanks to Stalin and his disdain for both foreign Communists and the ‘international revolution he never believed in’ according to Robert Service. This in turn resulted in his Bolshevising the Comintern to the extent that the Chinese Communist Party was instructed to follow its Nationalist counterpart in exchange for funds and resources, a distinctly un-Marxist compromise. Stalin’s main aim in this early period of his governance was to uphold ‘Socialism In One Country’ and develop Russia from within using its large supply of natural resources. However, no amount of oil or coal could be transfigured into trains, ships or heavy industry, the absence of which was acutely apparent in isolated Soviet Russia. Neither could it provide loans needed to further industrial development and help the USSR compete with the west for dominance in Europe. Michael Kitchen describes the result of Stalin’s initial policies as ‘a grossly collectivised agriculture and an awesomely hypertrophic military-industrial complex’, lacking in the crucial commodities that could increase both its power and productivity. In order to compensate for this, Stalin adjusted his principles, employed ‘a pragmatism that bordered cynicism’ according to Lee and turned to the other European pariah, Germany, with the aim of reviving international relations.

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The period 1929-1934 saw a rotation in Stalinist foreign policy; this was due to Soviet aims of reviving trade relations and securing some much needed foreign capital. During these five years, the economic mutual cooperation that was Stalin’s main objective developed between the two states of Russia and Germany, with the latter providing her neighbour with the loans and heavy industrial goods she sorely needed. In return, Russia provided Germany with payment for imports and realised German military aims by supplying both manufacturing facilities and the opportunity for the German army to train and experiment with weapons that was forbidden ...

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