The Soviet Union and conference diplomacy: A study of Soviet attitudes and policy towards international conferences in the period 1933-1939

Condren, Patrick Lawlor Shiel (1973) The Soviet Union and conference diplomacy: A study of Soviet attitudes and policy towards international conferences in the period 1933-1939. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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After a brief discussion of the aims and nature of Soviet foreign policy, the first chapter describes and analyses Russian attitudes and policy towards international conferences in the period, 1917-1933. This study of the soviet approach to the Brest-Litovsk negotiations, the Genoa, Hague and Lausanne Conferences, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, Disarmament, and the League of Nations, sets the succeeding chapters in their historical context. The next two chapters are devoted to a detailed examination of the reorientation of Moscow's foreign policy and the effects this had on subsequent Soviet attitudes to all international conferences, committees or groupings. Against a background of deteriorating German-Soviet relations came the Four Power Pact of 1933, an attempt to solve Europe's problems by means of a Great Power directorate. The USSR 's hostility at its exclusion from European affairs, led to the initiation of the prolonged Franco-Soviet negotiations which eventually resulted in Soviet membership of the League of Nations, and the signing of the Franco-Soviet mutual assistance pact. Yet despite Moscow's espousal of collective security, the USSR was excluded from the Stresa Conference of 1935, when Britain, France and Italy met to discuss European security problems. The Montreux Straits Conference of 1936, marked the high point of Soviet Conference Diplomacy. With the support of the French and Roumanians, and by exerting pressure on the Turks, the Soviet Union was able to force concessions from a Britain reluctant to countenance the breakdown of the Conference. The new Straits Convention gave the USSR important strategic advantages with which to complement its propaganda success as champion of the smaller states and of collective security. The Spanish Civil war broke out in July 1936 and continued until the end of March 1939. Throughout this period the Soviet Union followed the dual policies of supplying arms to the Spanish Republic while remaining a member of the Non Intervention Committee, The increasing isolation of the USSR was emphasised by Soviet behaviour within the Committee, where Maisky repeatedly contested various issues but only up to a point short of causing the breakdown of the Committee. The success of the Nyon Conference of September 1937, in dealing with Mussolini's clandestine submarine campaign, temporarily led Moscow to believe that Britain and France were about to adopt a firmer position. However, the Soviet Government was to be disappointed, and this section closes with an analysis of Soviet intentions and tactics at the London Committee and Nyon Conference, and an appraisal of the implications of the western attitude for the policy of collective security. The Brussels Conference on the Far East which was held in November 1937, further demonstrated western weakness in the face of open Japanese aggression against China. Not only was the Conference a total failure, but the Soviet delegation was largely ignored during the proceedings. This was the last international conference in which the Soviet Union participated before the outbreak of war. Between the Austrian Anschluss and the Munich Agreement of September 30th 1938, the Soviet Government made four proposals for the calling of an international conference. Each was either rejected or ignored by Britain and France. Munich did not, however, put an end to such Soviet attempts, for after Germany's annexation of Czechoslovakia, Britain asked Moscow for its reactions in the event of a German threat to Roumania. Litvinov's suggestion of an international conference was countered by a British proposal for a Four Power declaration. Polish intransigence led to the abandonment of this scheme, and instead Britain and France gave a guarantee to Poland without prior consultation with the USSR. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the main trends of Soviet Conference Diplomacy in this period, and an assessment of the part international conferences played in Soviet foreign policy with particular reference to the policy of collective security.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: S Aster
Keywords: Russian history, International relations
Date of Award: 1973
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1973-74044
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 15:33

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