How did the fact that Russia was a Communist state affect international relations between 1920 and 1939?

When the Bolsheviks came into power in 1917 in Russia, a conference in 1919 was held in Moscow in which Lenin invited representative of Communist Parties of the World in order to bring them under Russian leadership and teach them how to strike and rise against the capitalist world. Due to the Communist uprising with the insistence of France, Russia was not invited to the Versailles conference in 1919 and many countries started interfering in Russia but failed to make any impact. When Poland captured Ukraine and tried to capture Russia then the support for communist government rose among the Russians. By 1921, Lenin realised that why there is need of cooperation and peaceful co-existence to build trade relations and create investment opportunity. The following are the examples of how the relations with Britain, Germany and France changed between 1920 and 1939:

  • Britain after failing to overthrow the communists signed an Anglo-Russian trade Treaty in 1921 and Britain became the first nation to recognise Russia as a Communist state. But in 1922 during Genoa Conference, Britain demanded the war debts shook the relations.
  • In 1924, The labour government sanction a loan for Russia but after some time when conservative government came into power the relations were shaken again and there were some evidences that Russians were helping Indians by supporting demand for independence. The diplomatic relations were broken after that.
  • Then again a labour government came into power in Britain and new trade agreement was signed in 1929 but this also lived for short period of time and the Conservative government in 1931 cancelled the trade agreement.
  • For France Russia was the most important ally in the First World War and the rise of communist revolution against capitalist states created problems for capitalist France. France assisted the Whites against Communists in Civil war and also assisted Poland against Russia in 1920. Until the rise of Nazism, the relations between France and Russia were full of tensions.
  • The relations with Germany were more consistent than any other country until the rise was Nazism which were anti-communist. Starting from a Trade Treaty in 1921 which granted concessions in trade and minerals to Germans.
  • Then both signed The Rapallo Treaty in 1922, after both walked out of Genoa Conference. In this they agreed to wave off each other’s war reparations, kept Poland weak, cooperation in defence sector to by pass Versailles Treaty and training of Russian troops in forbidden weapons.

Then the Treaty of Berlin confirmed the neutrality of Germany in case of Russia attacked by any nation. But by the middle of 1930s the rise of Nazism that was against communist ended the relations with Russia and the signing of trade agreement with Poland confirmed it.

Question for UPSC Mains:
How did the fact that Russia was a Communist state affect international relations between 1920 and 1939?

Published: March 19, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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