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date: 06 December 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The basic, legal building blocks for the Soviet sphere of influence during the Cold War were the bilateral ‘Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance’ between the states of East Central Europe and the Soviet Union. Germany was the main potential enemy, but the treaties also applied to any state allied with it or any third state in general – most importantly, the United States. This article traces the evolution of the East Central European states' limited sovereignty from the origins of the friendship-treaty system during World War II through to its final reformulation in the mid-1970s. In terms of the Soviet bloc friendship treaties, one can speak of three periodsm the first of which began with the establishment of the system of friendship treaties under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, 1943–1948, and ended with his death in 1953. A second period began after Stalin's death in 1953 and the eventual assumption of power by Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev, whose removal ushered in a third and final period for the friendship-treaty system under his successor, Leonid Brezhnev.

Keywords: friendship treaties, Soviet Union, Germany, United States, Joseph Stalin, Nikita S. Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Cold War, East Central Europe, sovereignty

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