STALIN’S POLICY BEFORE THE 1940 PACT OF THREE
The article shows the foreign policy of the Soviet Union during this period, given its characteristic nature, which was often a source of diplomatic mistakes. Stalin hated the West, which made it difficult for him to assess events objectively and to identify the strategic and tactical intentions of the adversary. Such an approach led to the fact that Stalin refused to ally with the Western powers and signed a non-aggression pact with Germany on August 24, 1939, signed by Foreign Ministers Molotov and Ribbentrop. It would have been natural for Stalin to have chosen England and France as partners, thus weakening Germany's aggressive actions, but the Munich Agreement of 1938 left Stalin with doubts about London and Paris. Stalin was well aware that concluding a friendly treaty with an obvious enemy was not subject to any logic, but in the current situation, Stalin considered it more favorable to conclude a short-term treaty with Hitler to avoid an impending war. At the same time, unlike the West, Berlin offered the Soviet Union the prospect of additional material and territorial benefits. Hitler welcomed the signing of the Non-Aggression Pact because it meant that Germany would not have to fight on two fronts. At the time of the pact, Stalin's relationship with Hitler was based on the assumption that any German attempt to invade France would be delayed and that Hitler would not be able to shift his attention to the Soviet Union. This assumption of Stalin turned out to be wrong. He was surprised when news was received in Moscow on August 17 that the Germans had entered Paris. Hitler was just waiting for the right time to start a large-scale war with the Soviet Union. This became clear when on December 16, 1940, Hitler approved a plan to attack the Soviet Union under the name "Barbarossa".
Under the agreement with Stalin, the German leadership maintained friendly neutrality towards the aggressive action of the Soviet Union in the Baltics. The result was that by the end of July 1940, three Baltic states had disappeared from the political map of Europe. World public opinion strongly condemned the actions of the Soviet Union, assessed it as aggressive and did not recognize the annexation of the Baltic states. Moscow was also active in Romania and demanded the extradition of Bessarabia and northern Bukovin, otherwise threatening to use force. They feared the possibility of Soviet troops entering Berlin, cutting off Germany from Romania's rich oil and food resources. Under pressure from Berlin, Romania surrendered, although only the northern part of Bukovin was ceded to the Soviet Union through the city of Chernovets. Moscow's attitude towards Romania has worsened relations between Moscow and Berlin because Romanian oil resources were essential to the German military economy. The situation was also complicated by the claims of Bulgaria and Hungary on the territory of Romania, because in case of war, Soviet troops would enter Romania.
A new threat to international relations came at the end of September 1940, when on September 27 a pact of three states (Germany, Italy, Japan) was signed for 10 years. It was the consolidation of the forces of the aggressor countries that posed an obvious threat to peace. Instead of objectively assessing this event, the Moscow-influenced media stirred up anti-British and anti-American hysteria and regarded Western states as the main enemies of the Soviet Union. Stalin will soon see the consequences of this blunder when the country is in great trouble as a result of the German artillery attack on June 22, 1941. Hitler was preparing to attack Stalin by misleading Stalin by offering him a joint policy aimed at dividing the British Empire on the condition that the Soviet Union join a pact of three states, but without it, the imperial ambitions of the two dictators would only be thwarted.
Keywords: Stalin, Molotov, Hitler, Ribentrop, Moscow, Berlin.