Satellite state

Satellite state

Satellite state is a political term that refers to a country which is formally independent, but under heavy influence or control by another country. The term was coined by analogy to stellar objects orbiting a larger object, such as smaller moons revolving around larger planets, and is used mainly to refer to Central and Eastern European countries of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War, or Mongolia between 1924 and 1990. It implied that the countries in question were "satellites" under the hegemony of the Soviet Union. Other countries in the Soviet sphere of influence during the Cold War - such as North Korea (especially in the decades surrounding the Korean War) and Cuba (particularly after joining the Comecon) and Israel under US influence - were often labelled satellite states. In Western propaganda, the term has seldom been used to refer to states other than those in the Soviet orbit. In Soviet propaganda, the term was used to refer to the states in the orbit of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

A satellite nation is a country that is dominated politically and economically by another nation. In times of war, satellite nations sometimes serve as a buffer between an enemy country and the nation commanding the satellite.

Satellite state is one of several contentious terms used to describe the (alleged) subordination of one state to another. Other such terms include puppet state and neo-colony. In general, the term satellite state implies deep ideological allegiance to the hegemonic power, whereas puppet state implies political and military dependence and neo-colony implies (abject) economic dependence. Depending on which aspect of dependence is being emphasised, a state may fall into more than one category. Some scholars use the term client state as a general category for all such subordinate states.

The Soviet Example: Eastern Europe

The USSR, which had grafted onto the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic several countries that had had short-lived independence in the world today there are satellites(Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the lands of Central Asia), never reconciled itself to having lost West Ukraine, West Belorussia, Bessarabia, and the three Baltic states in the course of 1919-21. Thus they aimed to annex these territories as well as to obtain a buffer zone from Finland in 1939-40. In the aftermath of World War II, the Soviet Union used its military power to influence political life in all countries in which it came into occupation to ensure compliant people's republics that would subordinate their political structures, foreign policy, with the dictates of Soviet leadership while maintaining a semblance of independence. The Soviet authorities allowed multi-party democracy in Hungary until 1947 and Czechoslovakia until 1948. In response to the Cold War and the menace of perceived aggression from the West, Soviet leadership saw it as vital to strengthen control over these countries. The co-ordination of military, and economic policy within those countries began even earlier, as exemplified in the obligatory rejection of the Marshall Plan by the Czechoslovak government under the U.S.

USSR Satellite Nations

The compromised independence of countries behind the Iron Curtain ended as Mikhail Gorbachev granted genuine independence to the states behind the Iron Curtain. After 1985 the Soviet Union would guarantee their defense only against invasion from non-Communist powers. Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania maintained Communist régimes only until 1989, when the communist dictatorships started to collapse.


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