By the middle of 1944, the Soviet Union's Red Army was on the offensive and was pushing the Germans firstly out of the USSR, then out of Eastern Europe. When the governments in the Eastern European countries collapsed one after another with the departure of the German forces, there were left power vacuums in these countries. The Soviet Union filled in this vacuum and thus established control over Eastern Europe by setting up Soviet governments. This process, which was facilitated by the Red Army's presence there, is the expansion of the Soviet Union into Eastern Europe. I agree only to a small extent that this expansion was borne out of a desire to acquire superpower status. The issue in question is whether or not the Soviet Union expanded into Europe because it wanted to become a superpower. By ‘superpower', one means that the Soviet Union yearned to be elevated to, or perhaps even surpass, the level of the United States (US) in terms of territorial influence, nuclear power, economic strength, and perhaps even political say in world affairs.
Soviet expansion into Europe was a means whereby it could acquire superpower status; it gave the Soviet Union a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, rendering it territorial influence, and the Soviet Union would also have a source from which it could extract raw materials to help its economy recover from the war and eventually strengthen and prosper – this is why the desire to be a superpower, or the desire for hegemony, may account for Soviet expansion. However, there were, in fact, security, ideological and circumstantial motivations behind the expansion as well.
[...] However, the Soviet Union's expansion into Europe also arose due to security, ideological and circumstantial reasons. “Soviet security objectives in 1945 included creating strong safeguards against future German aggression, secure borders, and a buffer zone in Eastern Europe”, as told by historian David Painter (1999)3. Therefore, since Eastern Europe could serve as a defensive buffer against invasions into the Soviet Union, the latter expanded westwards into Europe for security reasons too. As Lundestad has said, “there is little reason to doubt that this was the case. [...]
[...] Course Title: History 9067/3: International History 1991 JC 2 TERM 1 ESSAY ASSIGNMENT How far do you agree with the view that Soviet Union expanded into Europe because of the desire to acquire superpower status”? By the middle of 1944, the Soviet Union's Red Army was on the offensive and was pushing the Germans firstly out of the USSR, then out of Eastern Europe. When the governments in the Eastern European countries collapsed one after another with the departure of the German forces, there were left power vacuums in these countries. [...]
[...] The Soviet Union would no doubt be capable of closing its borders to undesired influences, but adding an extra margin here could not hurt.”5 As the quote demonstrates, Soviet expansion could have also been a way to fend off the capitalism ideology (which contradicts communism), and, to some extent, it is hinted that expansion was to secure the Soviet Union further away from the West and its conflicting ideology. To bring the discussion a step further, this spread of the Soviet communist ideology in fact also served as a means to achieve security ends to surround the Soviet Union with friendly neighbours rather than to acquire superpower status. In addition, the expansion of the Soviet Union into Eastern Europe can be attributed to the circumstances at that time. As Painter expressed, “World War II had created revolutionary conditions in Eastern Europe by disrupting social, political and economic structures. [...]
[...] An International History. London: Routledge, 1999. [...]
[...] Additionally, some may argue that the Soviet Union had to first become a superpower to protect its Eastern European security buffer from the USA. However, the very existence of the Eastern European countries as a buffer zone is justified by its purpose to protect the Soviet Union, and not vice versa. Even if one were to say that the Soviet Union still had to first be a superpower in order to defend itself, this still begs the question of why it rejected the US Marshall Aid in the first place. [...]
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