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How the Soviet Empire Relied on Diversity: Territorial Expansion and National Borders at the End of World War II in Ruthenia

Abstract : ‘How far is Russia going to go?’ asked Walter Bedell, the new American ambassador while presenting his credentials to Molotov on 4 April 1946. At that time, the westward expansion of the USSR’s territory was considerable. During the post-war conferences, in Tehran and Potsdam for instance, and later in the peace treaties with former satellites of Hitler‘s Germany, the Allies – who had little scope for choice – endorsed the new border delinea-tions. Years before, these had been planned ahead by the Soviets, who were eager to obtain the recognition of the territories they had annexed in 1939 and 1940 (i.e. Eastern Poland, the Baltic States, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina). By 1941, Stalin had already raised the issue before Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary. At the end of the war, these territorial demands were reasserted once again. Moreover, the Soviets acquired new territories at the expense of the vanquished, particularly Petsamo, a port on the Arctic Ocean, together with the surrounding area taken over from Finland, and Königsberg and its region on the Baltic Sea won from Germany (Eastern Prussia). Stalin also negotiated, with Beneš, the last western Soviet annexation after the war: Subcarpathian Ruthenia. Stalin, Molotov and the Soviet diplomats did their best to improve and redraw the borders of their countries while expanding the Soviet Empire. In spring 1948, a range of agreements, mutual assistance treaties and internal reforms paved the way for the exportation of the Soviet system to Eastern European countries. Rumours spread in East and West predicting a new enlargement of the USSR. Which country would become the next Soviet republic? Romania? Czechoslovakia or Poland? (First paragraph)
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Sabine Dullin. How the Soviet Empire Relied on Diversity: Territorial Expansion and National Borders at the End of World War II in Ruthenia. Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann; Peter Romijn; Sandrine Kott; Olivier Wieviorka. Seeking Peace in the Wake of War. Europe, 1943-1947, Amsterdam University Press, pp.218-246, 2015, 9789048515257. ⟨10.1515/9789048515257-011⟩. ⟨hal-03299773⟩

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