Once its system of satellite states was built up after World War II, Eastern Europe (and, for some time, China) was the area of most concern to the Soviet Union. With the United States and the Western alliance, relations were marked by alternating episodes of crisis and cooperation. An innovation of the post-Stalin years was the widening of contacts with the developing nations of the Third World, which Moscow saw as fertile ground for extension of its military, political, and economic influence.
Soviet military and political relations with its satellite states in Eastern Europe were mainly bilateral until the mid-1950s. Formation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 gave the Soviet bloc a counterpart to NATO, increased military coordination, and provided a forum in which wider political issues could be considered. Cominform, founded in 1947 in an attempt to impose political uniformity on friendly states and movements, was disbanded in April 1956. East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, or GDR), constituted as a sovereign state in 1949, remained of special concern to Moscow. In June 1953 Soviet troops helped put down a rebellion of workers in East Berlin. The status of Berlin, where the border between the two German states was open, became a more hotly contested issue as West German prosperity induced hundreds of thousands of East Germans to flee through the divided city. In August 1961 the Soviet Union and the East German government built the infamous Berlin Wall, which prevented East Germans from freely emigrating to the West.
Tito’s Yugoslavia, which refused to cave in to Stalin in 1948, stuck to its separate identity and did not join either the Warsaw Pact or COMECON.
Relations improved after the death of Stalin, only to decline again in the 1960s, especially after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. After 1961 the Soviet Union lost all influence in Yugoslavia’s small neighbor, Albania, which until 1978 remained closely allied with China.
The principal instrument for economic integration of the Soviet bloc was COMECON. Under plans worked out by the Soviet Union, and accepted with some qualifications by the member states, each country was to produce what it was best prepared for and purchase other products from the other countries.
Opposition to this supranational system under Soviet domination developed, notably in Romania, which rejected its role as a basically agricultural and oil-producing country. Despite such dissatisfaction, additional economic links were later established, including an International Bank of Economic Collaboration. Pipelines carrying Soviet oil and gas to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany further integrated the economies of these nations with that of the USSR. "USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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