Sphere of influence

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A 1912 newspaper cartoon highlighting the United States' influence in Latin America following the Monroe Doctrine. Monroe doctrine.jpg
A 1912 newspaper cartoon highlighting the United States' influence in Latin America following the Monroe Doctrine.

In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence (SOI) is a spatial region or concept division over which a state or organization has a level of cultural, economic, military, or political exclusivity, accommodating to the interests of powers outside the borders of the state that controls it.

International relations Relationships between two or more states

International relations (IR) or international affairs (IA) — commonly also referred to as international studies (IS), global studies (GS), or global affairs (GA) — is the study of interconnectedness of politics, economics and law on a global level. Depending on the academic institution, it is either a field of political science, an interdisciplinary academic field similar to global studies, or an entirely independent academic discipline in which students take a variety of internationally focused courses in social science and humanities disciplines. In all cases, the field studies relationships between political entities (polities) such as sovereign states, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations (MNCs), and the wider world-systems produced by this interaction. International relations is an academic and a public policy field, and so can be positive and normative, because it analyses and formulates the foreign policy of a given state.

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While there may be a formal alliance or other treaty obligations between the influenced and influencer, such formal arrangements are not necessary and the influence can often be more of an example of soft power. Similarly, a formal alliance does not necessarily mean that one country lies within another's sphere of influence. High levels of exclusivity have historically been associated with higher levels of conflict.

Soft power is the ability to attract and co-opt, rather than coerce. Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. Recently, the term has also been used in changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organizations. In 2012, Joseph Nye of Harvard University explained that with soft power, "the best propaganda is not propaganda", further explaining that during the Information Age, "credibility is the scarcest resource."

In more extreme cases, a country within the "sphere of influence" of another may become a subsidiary of that state and serve in effect as a satellite state or de facto colony. The system of spheres of influence by which powerful nations intervene in the affairs of others continues to the present. It is often analyzed in terms of superpowers, great powers, and/or middle powers.

Superpower Very powerful nation

A superpower is a state with a dominant position characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined-means of economic, military, technological, and cultural strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power influence. Traditionally, superpowers are preeminent among the great powers.

Great power nation that has great political, social, and economic influence

A great power is a sovereign state that is recognized as having the ability and expertise to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power influence, which may cause middle or small powers to consider the great powers' opinions before taking actions of their own. International relations theorists have posited that great power status can be characterized into power capabilities, spatial aspects, and status dimensions.

Middle power

In international relations, a middle power is a sovereign state that is not a superpower nor a great power, but still has large or moderate influence and international recognition. The concept of the "middle power" dates back to the origins of the European state system. In the late 16th century, Italian political thinker Giovanni Botero divided the world into three types of states – grandissime (empires), mezano and piccioli. According to Botero, a mezano or middle power "...has sufficient strength and authority to stand on its own without the need of help from others."

Sometimes portions of a single country can fall into two distinct spheres of influence. In the colonial era the buffer states of Iran and Thailand, lying between the empires of Britain/Russia and Britain/France respectively, were divided between the spheres of influence of the imperial powers. Likewise, after World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones, which later consolidated into West Germany and East Germany, the former a member of NATO and the latter a member of the Warsaw Pact.

A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers. Its existence can sometimes be thought to prevent conflict between them. A buffer state is sometimes a mutually agreed upon area lying between two greater powers, which is demilitarized in the sense of not hosting the military of either power. The invasion of a buffer state by one of the powers surrounding it will often result in war between the powers.

Iran Country in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.

Thailand Constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship.

The term is also used to describe non-political situations, e.g., a shopping mall is said to have a sphere of influence which designates the geographical area where it dominates the retail trade.

Shopping mall complex of shops

A shopping mall is a modern, chiefly North American, term for a form of shopping precinct or shopping center, in which one or more buildings form a complex of shops representing merchandisers with interconnecting walkways that enable customers to walk from unit to unit. A shopping arcade is a specific type of shopping precinct which is usually distinguished in English for mall shopping by the fact that connecting walkways are not owned by a single proprietor and are in open air. Shopping malls in 2017 accounted for 8% of retailing space in the United States.

Historical remnants

A map of colonial Africa in 1897 showing the European "sphere[s] of influence". Map of colonial Africa in 1897.jpg
A map of colonial Africa in 1897 showing the European "sphere[s] of influence".

Many areas of the world are considered to have inherited culture from a previous sphere of influence, that while perhaps today halted, continues to share the same culture. Examples include the Anglosphere, Arab World, Eurosphere, Francophonie, Françafrique, Germanosphere, Indosphere, Latin Europe/Latin America, Lusophonie, Turkosphere, Chinese cultural sphere, Slavisphere, Hispanophone, Malay World, as well as many others.

The Anglosphere is a group of English-speaking nations that share common cultural and historical ties to the United Kingdom, and which today maintain close political, diplomatic and military cooperation. While the nations included in different sources vary, the Anglosphere is usually not considered to include all countries where English is an official language, although the nations that are commonly included were all once part of the British Empire. Most definitions include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The term can also encompass the Republic of Ireland and English-speaking Caribbean countries such as The Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica.

Eurosphere

The Eurosphere or the European Empire is a concept associated with the public intellectual Mark Leonard, Oxford University academic Jan Zielonka, the European Union Director-General for Politico-Military Affairs Robert Cooper; and the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Francophonie French-speaking world

Francophonie is the quality of speaking French. It is not to be confused with the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, sometimes also informally called "la Francophonie". The term designates the ensemble of people, organisations and governments that share the use of French on a daily basis and as administrative language, teaching language or chosen language.

New Imperialism era

An example of spheres of influence was China in the late 19th and early 20th Century, when Britain, France, Germany, and Russia (later replaced by Japan) had de facto control over large swaths of territory. These were taken by means of military attacks or threats to force Chinese authorities to sign unequal treaties and very long term "leases". [1]

Approximate demarcation of spheres of influence, post-1905, when Japan seized portions of the Russian sphere Spheres of influence new.png
Approximate demarcation of spheres of influence, post-1905, when Japan seized portions of the Russian sphere

In December 1897 German Kaiser Wilhelm II declared his intent to seize territory in China, precipitating the scramble to demarcate zones of influence in China. The German government acquired, in Shandong province, exclusive control over developmental loans, mining, and railway ownership, [2] while Russia gained, in addition to the previous tax exemption for trade in Mongolia and Xinjiang, [3] economic powers similar to Germany's over Fengtian, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces. France gained a sphere over Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong provinces, Japan over Fujian province, and the British Empire over the whole Yangtze River Valley and Tibet. [4] Only Italy's request for Zhejiang province was declined by the Chinese government. [5] These do not include the lease and concession territories where the foreign powers had full authority.

In 1902, Winston Churchill gave a speech regarding the division of China by the great powers, where he declared that "we shall have to take the Chinese in hand and regulate them", "I believe in the ultimate partition of China" and "the Aryan stock is bound to triumph". [6]

The Russian government militarily occupied their zone, imposed their law and schools, seized mining and logging privileges, settled their citizens, and even established their municipal administration on several cities, [7] the latter without Chinese consent. [8]

The powers (and the United States) might have their own courts, post offices, commercial institutions, railroads, and gunboats in what was on paper Chinese territory. However, the foreign powers and their control in some cases could have been exaggerated; the local government persistently restricted further encroachment. [9] The system ended after the Second World War.

On September 6, 1899, U.S. Secretary of State John Hay sent notes to the major powers (France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia), asking them to declare formally that they would uphold Chinese territorial and administrative integrity and would not interfere with the free use of the treaty ports within their spheres of influence in China, as the US felt threatened by other powers' much larger spheres of influence in China and worried that it might lose access to the Chinese market should the country be partitioned. [10] Although treaties made after 1900 refer to this "Open Door Policy", competition among the various powers for special concessions within China for railroad rights, mining rights, loans, foreign trade ports, and so forth, continued unabated, [11] with the US itself contradicting the policy by agreeing to recognise the Japanese sphere in the Lansing-Ishii Agreement. [12]

In 1910, the great powers, Britain, France, Germany, United States, and later, Russia and Japan, ignored the Open Door Policy to form a banking consortium, consisting of national banking groups backed by respective governments, through which all foreign loans to China were monopolised, granting the powers political influence over China and reducing economic competition between foreigners. This organisation controlled the majority of Chinese tax revenue in a "trust", and utilised a small portion to bolster the rule of Yuan Shikai, to great effect. The renewed consortium of UK, France, Japan and US in 1920 effectively vetoed all developmental loans to China, ruling over the Chinese government by aiming to control all rails, ports and highways in China. [13] [14]

Delimitation of British and Russian influence in Iran Map Iran 1900-en.png
Delimitation of British and Russian influence in Iran

In the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907, Britain and Russia partitioned Persia (Iran) into spheres of influence, with the Russians gaining recognition for influence over most of northern Iran, and Britain establishing a zone in the Southeast. [15] [16]

For Siam (Thailand), Britain and France signed an agreement in 1904 whereby the British recognised a French sphere of influence to the east of the River Menam's (Chao Phraya River) basin; in turn, the French recognised British influence over the territory to the west of the Menam basin and west of the Gulf of Thailand. Both parties disclaimed any idea of annexing Siamese territory. [17]

United States

Alexander Hamilton, first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, aimed for the United States to establish a sphere of influence in North America. [18] Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers, harboured ambitions for the U.S. to rise to world power status and gain the strength to expel European powers from the Americas, taking on the mantle of regional dominance among American nations, although most of the New World were European colonies during that period. [19]

This doctrine was formalized under President James Monroe, who asserted that the New World was to be established as a Sphere of influence, removed from European encroachment. This was termed the "Monroe Doctrine". As the U.S. emerged as a world power, few nations dared to trespass on this sphere. [20] A notable exception occurred with the Soviet Union and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As of 2018, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson continued to refer to the Monroe doctrine to tout the United States as the region's preferred trade partner over other nations such as China. [21]

World War II

For another example, during the height of its existence in World War II, the Japanese Empire had quite a large sphere of influence. The Japanese government directly governed events in Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and parts of Mainland China. The "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" could thus be quite easily drawn on a map of the Pacific Ocean as a large "bubble" surrounding the islands of Japan and the Asian and Pacific nations it controlled.

Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact

According to a secret protocol attached to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 (revealed only after Germany's defeat in 1945), Northern and Eastern Europe were divided into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence. [22] In the North, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia were assigned to the Soviet sphere. [22] Poland was to be partitioned in the event of its "political rearrangement"—the areas east of the Narev, Vistula, and San Rivers going to the Soviet Union while Germany would occupy the west. [22] Lithuania, adjacent to East Prussia, would be in the German sphere of influence, although a second secret protocol agreed in September 1939 assigned Lithuania to the USSR. [23] Another clause of the treaty stipulated that Bessarabia, then part of Romania, would join the Moldovan ASSR and become the Moldovan SSR under the control of Moscow. [22] The Soviet invasion of Bukovina on 28 June 1940 violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as it went beyond the Soviet sphere of influence as agreed with the Axis. [24] The USSR continued to deny the existence of the Pact's protocols until after the dissolution of the USSR when the Russian government fully acknowledged the existence and authenticity of the secret protocols. [25]

End of World War II

From 1941 and the German attack on the Soviet Union, the Allied Coalition operated on the unwritten assumption that the Western Powers and the Soviet Union had each its own sphere of influence. The presumption of the US-British and Soviet unrestricted rights in their respective spheres started causing difficulties as the Nazi-controlled territory shrank and the allied powers successively liberated other states. The wartime spheres lacked a practical definition and it had never been determined if a dominant allied power was entitled to unilateral decisions only in the area of military activity, or could also force its will regarding political, social and economic future of other states. This overly informal system backfired during the late stages of the war and afterwards, when it turned out that the Soviets and the Western Allies had very different ideas concerning the administration and future development of the liberated regions and of Germany itself. [26]

Cold War

Greatest extent of Soviet influence, before the Sino-Soviet split and after the Tito-Stalin split and Cuban Revolution Soviet empire 1960.png
Greatest extent of Soviet influence, before the Sino-Soviet split and after the Tito-Stalin split and Cuban Revolution

During the Cold War, the Baltic states, Central Europe, some countries in Eastern Europe, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, North Korea, and, until the Sino-Soviet split and Tito-Stalin split, the People's Republic of China and the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, among other countries at various times, were said to lie under the Soviet sphere of influence. Western Europe, Oceania, Japan, and South Korea, among other places, were often said to lie under the sphere of influence of the United States. However, the level of control exerted in these spheres varied and was not absolute. For instance, France and the United Kingdom were able to act independently to invade (with Israel) the Suez Canal (they were later forced to withdraw by joint U.S. and Soviet pressure). Later, France was also able to withdraw from the military arm of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Cuba often took positions that put it at odds with its Soviet ally, including momentary alliances with the People's Republic of China, economic reorganizations, and providing support for insurgencies in Africa and the Americas without prior approval from the Soviet Union. [ citation needed ]

With the end of the Cold War, the Eastern Bloc fell apart, effectively ending the Soviet sphere of influence. Then in 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, replaced by the Russian Federation and several other ex-Soviet Republics who became independent states.

1990s to present

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia that became independent were often portrayed as part of the Russian Federation's "sphere of influence". According to Ulrich Speck, writing for Carnegie Europe, "After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the West's focus was on Russia. Western nations implicitly treated the post-Soviet countries (besides the Baltic states) as Russia's sphere of influence." [27]

In 1997, NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, stating the "aim of creating in Europe a common space of security and stability, without dividing lines or spheres of influence limiting the sovereignty of any state." [28]

In 2009, Russia asserted that the European Union desires a sphere of influence and that the Eastern Partnership is "an attempt to extend" it. [29] In March 2009, Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt stated that "The Eastern Partnership is not about spheres of influence. The difference is that these countries themselves opted to join". [29]

Following the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, Václav Havel and other former central and eastern European leaders signed an open letter stating that Russia had "violated the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris... -all in the name of defending a sphere of influence on its borders." [30] In April 2014, NATO stated that "Contrary to [the Founding Act], Russia now appears to be attempting to recreate a sphere of influence by seizing a part of Ukraine, maintaining large numbers of forces on its borders, and demanding, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently stated, that “Ukraine cannot be part of any bloc.”" [31] Criticising Russia in November 2014, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "old thinking about spheres of influence, which runs roughshod over international law" put the "entire European peace order into question". [32] In January 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, "We should not jeopardise the freedoms that President Reagan and Mrs Thatcher brought to Eastern Europe by accepting President Putin's claim that it is now in his sphere of influence." [33]

Corporations

In corporate terms, the sphere of influence of a business, organization or group can show its power and influence in the decisions of other businesses/organizations/groups. Influence shows in several ways, such as in size, frequency of visits, etc. In most cases, a company described as "bigger" has a larger sphere of influence.

For example, the software company Microsoft has a large sphere of influence in the market of operating systems; any entity wishing to sell a software product may weigh up compatibility with Microsoft's products as part of a marketing plan.[ citation needed ]

In another example, retailers wishing to make the most profits must ensure they open their stores in the correct location. This is also true for shopping centers that, to reap the most profits, must be able to attract customers to their vicinity.[ citation needed ]

There is no defined scale measuring such spheres of influence. However, one can evaluate the spheres of influence of two shopping centers by seeing how far people are prepared to travel to each shopping center, how much time they spend in its vicinity, how often they visit, the order of goods available, etc.[ citation needed ]

Other examples

An 1878 British cartoon about The Great Game between the United Kingdom and Russia over influence in Central Asia Great Game cartoon from 1878.jpg
An 1878 British cartoon about The Great Game between the United Kingdom and Russia over influence in Central Asia

For historical and current examples of significant battles over spheres of influence see:

See also

Related Research Articles

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Axis powers Alliance of countries defeated in World War II

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Anti-Comintern Pact pact

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... recognizing that the aim of the Communist International, known as the Comintern, is to disintegrate and subdue existing States by all the means at its command; convinced that the toleration of interference by the Communist International in the internal affairs of the nations not only endangers their internal peace and social well‑being, but is also a menace to the peace of the world desirous of co‑operating in the defense against Communist subversive activities ...

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Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948

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Germany–Soviet Union relations, 1918–1941

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Foreign relations of the Soviet Union

When Lenin and the Bolsheviks took over Russia in 1918, they faced enormous odds against the German Empire, and then again against multiple enemies in a bitter civil war.. At first, it was treated as an unrecognized Pariah state because of its repudiating the tsarist debts and threats to destroy capitalism at home and around the world. By 1922, Moscow had repudiated the goal of world revolution, and sought diplomatic recognition and friendly trade relations with the world, starting with Britain and Germany. Trade and technical help from Germany and the United States arrived in the late 1920s. Under dictator Joseph Stalin, the country was transformed in the 1930s into an industrial and military power. A totally unexpected treaty with Germany in 1939 allowed the Nazis to launch World War II with attacks first on Poland and in 1940 Western Europe without worrying about a two-front war. Germany in 1941 turned east in a massive invasion that reached the outskirts of Leningrad and Moscow. However, the Soviet Union proved strong enough to defeat Nazi Germany, with help from its key allies the In 1945 the USSR became one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council--along with the United States, Britain, France, and China--giving it the right to veto any of the Security Council's resolutions. By 1947, American and British anger at Soviet control over Eastern Europe led to a Cold War, with Western Europe organized economically with large sums of Marshall Plan money from Washington. Opposition to the danger of Soviet expansion form the basis to the NATO military alliance in 1949. there was no hot war, but the Cold War was fought diplomatically and politically across the world by the Soviet and NATO blocks.

Timeline of events preceding World War II timeline

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Monroe Doctrine US foreign policy regarding Latin American countries in 1823

The Monroe Doctrine was a United States policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas beginning in 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as "the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States." At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued on December 2, 1823 at a time when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved, or were at the point of gaining, independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires.

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German–Soviet Axis talks Talks concerning the Soviet Unions potential entry as a fourth Axis Power in World War II

In October and November 1940, German–Soviet Axis talks occurred concerning the Soviet Union's potential entry as a fourth Axis Power in World War II. The negotiations, which occurred during the era of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, included a two-day Berlin conference between Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, Adolf Hitler and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, followed by both countries trading written proposed agreements. After two days of negotiations from 12 to 14 November 1940, Germany presented the Soviets with a draft written Axis pact agreement defining the world spheres of influence of the four proposed Axis powers. Hitler, Ribbentrop and Molotov tried to set German and Soviet spheres of influence; Hitler encouraged Molotov to look south to Iran and eventually India while preserving German access to Finland's resources, and to remove Soviet influence in the Balkans. Molotov remained firm, seeking to remove German troops from Finland and gain a warm water port in the Balkans. Soviet foreign policy calculations were predicated by the idea that the war would be a long-term struggle and therefore German claims that Britain would be defeated swiftly were treated with skepticism. In addition, Stalin sought to remain influential in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. These factors resulted in Molotov taking a firm line. According to a Columbia University academical source, on 25 November 1940, the Soviets presented a Stalin-drafted written counterproposal where they would accept the four power pact, but it included Soviet rights to Bulgaria and a world sphere of influence centered on the area around Iraq and Iran. Germany did not respond, leaving the negotiations unresolved. Regarding the counterproposal, Hitler remarked to his top military chiefs that Stalin "demands more and more", "he's a cold-blooded blackmailer" and that "a German victory has become unbearable for Russia" so that "she must be brought to her knees as soon as possible." Germany broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in June 1941 by invading the Soviet Union.

Baltic–Soviet relations

Relevant events began regarding the Baltic states and the Soviet Union when, following Bolshevist Russia's conflict with the Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia—several peace treaties were signed with Russia and its successor, the Soviet Union. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Soviet Union and all three Baltic States further signed non-aggression treaties. The Soviet Union also confirmed that it would adhere to the Kellogg–Briand Pact with regard to its neighbors, including Estonia and Latvia, and entered into a convention defining "aggression" that included all three Baltic countries.

Background of the occupation of the Baltic states

The background of the occupation of the Baltic states covers the period before the first Soviet occupation on 14 June 1940, stretching from independence in 1918 to the Soviet ultimatums in 1939–1940. The Baltic states gained their independence during and after the Russian revolutions of 1917; Lenin's government allowed them to secede. They managed to sign non-aggression treaties in the 1920s and 1930s. Despite the treaties, the Baltic states were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940 in the aftermath of the German–Soviet pact of 1939.

References

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