Soviet Union–United States relations

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Soviet–American relations
Map indicating locations of Soviet Union and United States

Soviet Union

United States

The relations between the United States in America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1922–1991) succeeded the previous relations from 1776 to 1917 and predate today's relations that began in 1992. Full diplomatic relations between the two countries were established late due to mutual hostility. During World War II, the two countries were briefly allies. At the end of the war, the first signs of post-war mistrust and hostility began to appear between the two countries, escalating into the Cold War; a period of tense hostile relations, with periods of détente.

Pre-World War II relations

1917-1919

Following the October Revolution in 1917, the U.S. government was hostile to Soviet Russia. The United States extended its embargo of Germany to include Russia.[1][2] The United States sent troops to Siberia in 1918 to protect its interests from Cossacks; thousands of troops were landed at Vladivostok and at Arkhangelsk.[3][4]

Beyond the Russian Civil War, relations were also dogged by claims of American companies receiving compensation for the nationalized industries they had invested in. This was later resolved with the U.S. promising to take care of such claims.[5]

U.S. hostility towards the Bolsheviks was not only due to countering the emergence of an anti-capitalist revolution. The Americans, as a result of the fear of Japanese expansion into Russian held territory, and support of the Czech legion (who were supportive of the allied cause), sent a small number of troops to Northern Russia and Siberia. Once Lenin had gained control after the October Revolution and after the overthrow of the social democratic provisional government, one of his first actions was the halting of Russian involvement in the Great War and thus fulfilling German goals. The aftermath was significant because Germany could now reallocate most of its troops towards the Western Front since the Eastern Front no longer posed a high substantial threat.[6]

The U.S. attempts of hindering the Bolsheviks were not very much on the militaristic level as to secret and legitimate financial aid towards Bolshevik enemies and in particular the White Army. Aid was given mostly by means of supplies and food. President Woodrow Wilson had various issues to deal with and did not want to intervene in Russia with total commitment due to Russian public opinion and the belief that many Russians were not part of the growing Red Army and in the hopes the revolution would eventually fade towards more democratic realizations. An aggressive invasion would have allieed Russians together and depicted the U.S. as an invading conquering nation. Following World War I, Germany was seen as the puppeteer in the Bolshevik cause with indirect control of the Bolsheviks through German agents.[7]

"The fact is that while Germany in a way has been using the Bolshevik element either directly through bribes of some of its leaders or as a result of the principles of government they espouse and practice, Germany is appealing to the conservative elements of Russia as their only hope against the Bolsheviks".[8]

The U.S. (like most major countries) did not recognize the USSR in the 1920s. However private investors, especially Henry Ford set up plants and provided technical know-how.[9]

Recognition in 1933

In November 1933 Roosevelt also established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Many American businessmen supported the move, because there was hope for large-scale trade, But it never materialized.[10] The Soviets promised not to engage in spying inside the United States, but did so anyhow.[11] Roosevelt named William Bullitt as ambassador from 1933 to 1936. Bullitt arrived in Moscow with high hopes for Soviet–American relations, his view of the Soviet leadership soured on closer inspection. By the end of his tenure he was openly hostile to the Soviet government. He remained an outspoken anti-communist for the rest of his life.[12]

World War II (1939–45)

Main article: World War II

Before the Germans decided to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941, relations remained strained, as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact stirred even more cause for concern in the minds of the Allies. Come the invasion of 1941, the Soviet Union entered a Mutual Assistance Treaty with Great Britain, and received aid from the American Lend-Lease program, relieving American-Soviet tensions, and bringing together former enemies in the fight against the Nazi Germany and the Axis powers.

Though operational cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union was notably less than that between other allied powers, the United States nevertheless provided the Soviet Union with huge quantities of weapons, ships, aircraft, rolling stock, strategic materials, and food through the Lend-Lease program. The Americans and the Soviets were as much for war with Germany as for the expansion of an ideological sphere of influence. During the war, Truman stated that it did not matter to him if a German or a Russian soldier died so long as either side is losing.[13]

The American Russian Cultural Association (Russian: Америк′ано–р′усская культ′урная ассоци′ация) was organized in the USA in 1942 to encourage cultural ties between the Soviet Union and the United States, with Nicholas Roerich as honorary president. The group's first annual report was issued the following year. The group does not appear to have lasted much past Nicholas Roerich's death in 1947.[14][15]

Cold War (1945–91)

Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson at the 1967 Glassboro Summit Conference.

The end of World War II saw the resurfacing of previous divisions between the two nations. The expansion of Soviet influence into Eastern Europe following Germany's defeat worried the liberal democracies of the west, particularly the United States, which had established virtual economic and political primacy in Western Europe. The two nations promoted two opposing economic and political ideologies and the two nations competed for international influence along these lines. This protracted a geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle—lasting from about 1947 to the period leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991—is known as the Cold War.

The Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear weapon in 1949, ending the United States' monopoly on nuclear weapons. The United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a conventional and nuclear arms race that persisted until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Andrei Gromyko was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, and is the longest-serving foreign minister in the world.

After Germany's defeat, the United States sought to help its Western European allies economically with the Marshall Plan. The United States extended the Marshall Plan to the Soviet Union, but under such terms, the Americans knew the Soviets would never accept, namely the acceptance of free elections, not characteristic of Stalinist communism. With its growing influence on Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union sought to counter this with the Comecon in 1949, which essentially did the same thing, though was more an economic cooperation agreement instead of a clear plan to rebuild. The United States and its Western European allies sought to strengthen their bonds and spite the Soviet Union. They accomplished this most notably through the formation of NATO which was basically a military agreement. The Soviet Union countered with the Warsaw Pact, which had similar results with the Eastern Bloc.

Soviet Union-United States (Including Spheres of Influence) relations
Map indicating locations of United States and Soviet Union

United States

Soviet Union

In December 1989, both the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union declared the Cold War over, and in 1991, the two were partners in the Gulf War against Iraq, a longtime Soviet ally. On 31 July 1991, the START I treaty cutting the number of deployed nuclear warheads of both countries was signed by Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H. W. Bush. However, many consider the Cold War to have truly ended in late 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

See also

References

  1. "Review of book by David S. Foglesong, America's Secret War Against Bolshevism: U.S. Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1917–1920". Humanities and Social Sciences On-Line. 
  2. David S. Foglesong, "American Intelligence Gathering, Propaganda and Covert Action in Revolutionary Russia", America's Secret War Against Bolshevism: U.S. Intervention in the Russian Civil War 1917–1920 
  3. Georg Schild, review of Carl J. Richard "When the United States Invaded Russia: Woodrow Wilson's Siberian Disaster." Journal of American History 100.3 (2013): 864-864.online
  4. Gibson Bell Smith (Winter 2002), "Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks The U.S. Army in Russia, 1918–1920", Prologue Magazine, The National Archives, 34 (4) 
  5. Donald E. Davis and Eugene P. Trani (2009). Distorted Mirrors: Americans and Their Relations with Russia and China in the Twentieth Century. University of Missouri Press. p. 48. 
  6. Fic, Victor M (1995), The Collapse of American Policy in Russia and Siberia, 1918, Colombia University Press, New York 
  7. Marc De Zwaan (May 2007), American "Intervention" in the Russian Civil War: 1918–1920 – Why did President Woodrow Wilson decide to send American troops into Siberia and Northern Russia on August 16, 1918?, International Academy 
  8. Levin, N (1970), Gordon Jr. Woodrow Wilson and World Politics: America's Response to War and Revolution, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 19 
  9. Kendall E. Bailes, "The American Connection: Ideology and the Transfer of American Technology to the Soviet Union, 1917–1941." Comparative Studies in Society and History 23#3 (1981): 421-448.
  10. Joan H. Wilson, "American Business and the Recognition of the Soviet Union." Social Science Quarterly (1971): 349-368. in JSTOR
  11. Edward Moore Bennett, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the search for security: American-Soviet relations, 1933-1939 (1985).
  12. Will Brownell and Richard Billings, So Close to Greatness: The Biography of William C. Bullitt (1988)
  13. "National Affairs: Anniversary Remembrance". Time magazine. 2 July 1951. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  14. "American-Russian Cultural Association". roerich-encyclopedia. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  15. "Annual Report". onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu. Retrieved 30 November 2015.