Brest Litovsk

Early Soviet Foreign Policy

The foreign policy of the RSFSR began with the TREATY OF BREST-LITOVSK, which was supposed to end the war. Next steps were treaties with states, which like the RSFSR had risen out of the ruins of the Russian Empire, treaties in which both sides recognized the other (with Finland in 1917/20, with Estonia in 1920, with Poland in 1921). An exception formed an early treaty with AFGHANISTAN in 1918, intended by the latter to counterbalance British influence in the region.
In 1919-1920 the Bolzhevik government found herself in the middle of a civil war, in which the Whites were supported by the Entente powers - British, US and Japanese troops on Russian soil. The Entente governments regarded the Bolzhevik government as a German puppet and refused to recognize it. When the attack on Petrograd failed in October 1919, the Entente forces retreated - continuing to treat the Soviet government an international pariah (steps undertaken by the Bolzhevik government, such as the nationalization of internationally owned companies respectively their assets in Russia did not help to improve the relations, neither did the agitation of leading Bolzhevist politicians such as LEON TROTSKI for world revolution). With the German defeat, the only major partner which had recognized the USSR had been eliminated, and the outbreak of (ultimately unsuccessful or only temporarily successful) revolutions in Germany, Hungary, Italy etc. only made western governments more suspicious of the RSFSR.

In 1922 at the Italian resort of RAPALLO Germany and the RSFSR signed a treaty of mutual recognition; the treaty permitted German forces to train weapons (which, according to the Treaty of Versailles, it was not to have) outside of Entente control. On Dec. 30th 1922 the SOVIET UNION was established; in 1924 it signed treaties of mutual recognition with France, Italy, the Scandinavian countries, Austria, Greece, China and Mexico.

In the early 1920es two political programmes conflicted with each other, Trotski's World Revolution First with Stalin's Develop Socialism in Russia First; the latter prevailed; one obstacle on the road to normal political relations was removed.
Early, the Bolzhevik government, claiming to be anti-imperialistic, had renounced all extraterritorial rights in China; yet MONGOLIA was Russian (Bolzhevik) sphere of influence since 1921, a PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC was declared in 1924 - not part of the USSR, but a Soviet satellite, as was the republic of TOUVA, split off Mongolia. The Russian Communist Party sent an advisor, MIKHAIL BUKHANIN, to China where he helped Chiang Kai Chek turn the Kuomintang into a well-organized party. In 1926, Chiang Kai Chek extradited Bukhanin and turned on the communist faction, infuriating Stalin, who started a campaign to aid the Chinese communists.

The COMINTERN was founded in 1919 as an international organization combining the world's communist parties - in most countries the large workers' parties (socialists, social democrats, labour) had broken apart into moderate social democrats, socialists and communists in the last years of World War I or immediately after. The Comintern was administrated from Moscow; and the directive was given out that social democrats were to be blamed for the failure of the World Revolution; communists were to regard them as traitors, there was to be no cooperation with them. As a consequence, in parliaments all over Europe communist parties found themselves an isolated minority, permanently in the opposition.

Treaty of Rapallo, 1922, from infoplease;
Treaty of Riga 1921, from infoplease
Comintern, from infoplease
DOCUMENTS Image : April 16th 1922, signing of the Treaty of Rapallo, from Bilddatenbank Chronik 2000, another one from Das 20. Jahrhundert in KEYSTONE Bildern (the 20th century in Keystone Images)
J.V. Stalin, The Revolution in China and the Tasks of the Comintern, posted by From Marx to Mao

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 8th 2004

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