Soviet Empire

From Academic Kids

Soviet Empire was a term used to critically describe the actions and nature of the Soviet Union. It gained popularity after US President Ronald Reagan famously denounced the USSR as an "evil empire" in a 1982 speech to the United Kingdom House of Commons.

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Motivation of the term

Though it was not ruled by an Emperor and never formally considered itself to be an Empire (indeed, it officially loathed the very notion of "empire"), the Soviet Union exhibited certain imperialistic tendencies common to historic empires:

  • Territorial expansion through invasion or subversion (e.g.: Poland, Baltic States, Finland, Afghanistan).
  • Strong central government controlling the governments of all subsidiary and satellite territories.
  • Interference (including through the use of military force) in the internal politics of its allies (see histories of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland).

For these reasons and others, the Soviet Union is sometimes considered by certain historians to be one of the main empires of history, equal to such notables as the British Empire and the Roman Empire, and borrowing some of the foreign policy of the Tsarist Russian Empire that it replaced.

The Soviet sphere of influence

At the height of its existence, the "Soviet Empire" consisted of the following nations:

Member states of the Soviet Union

Members of Comecon

These countries were the closest allies of the Soviet Union. They were members of the Comecon, a Soviet-led economic community. In addition, the ones located in Eastern Europe were also members of the Warsaw Pact. They were also called the Eastern bloc in English.

Countries with pro-Soviet governments for brief periods of time

In the political terminology of the Soviet Union, these were "countries moving along the socialist way of development", as opposed to the "countries of developed socialism", listed above. Most received some aid, either military or economic, from the Soviet Union, and were influenced by it to varying degrees.

Communist states opposed to the Soviet Union

Some communist states were openly opposed to the Soviet Union and many of its policies. Though their forms of government may have been similar, they were completely sovereign from the USSR and held only formal ties. Relations were often tense, sometimes even to the point of armed conflict.

Present-day communist states

All other countries listed above either no longer exist or are no longer communist states.

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