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Relations Between the West and the USSR in 1945-1949


The relations between the United Nations and Soviet Union weakened in 1945 due to the Cold War, which also brought a transition between the United States and Soviet Union. Although the inconsistency between the two superpowers’ relationship started off in 1945 by the origins of the Cold War, but the rivalry between them with the passage of time only expanded in multiple areas which included military, ideology, sports, industrial, and technological developments. There were many post war disagreements regarding war time conferences between the two countries. In 1945, two important incidents took place which initiated conflicts; first was the Potsdam conference which took place in July 1945 in which it was to decide who would administer the defeated Nazi Germany and second the presentation of a new U.S. president Harry Truman who was uninformed about the foreign policy and military affairs of the U.S. with that of USSR.

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Truman was at least partially responsible for the post-war breakdown of Soviet-American relations. Many authors blame Truman to be responsible for the conflicts as he had almost no experience in international relations, and as a new president he found difficulty in getting up to the anti-Soviet views of former Roosevelt advisers who stayed on in Truman’s administration (Powaski, 1998, p. 65). On the other end, the Soviets could not stop showing their hostility and on April 24 Stalin accused the United States and Britain of trying to ‘dictate’ Soviet policy toward Poland. Shortly afterward the Soviets arrested sixteen leaders of the Polish underground who had been lured out of hiding by a promise of safe passage out of the country. The Soviets did not even lagged behind intensifying their efforts to communize Bulgaria and Romania and as a result, the United Nations organisational conference that met in San Francisco was disrupted by acrimonious exchanges between the Soviet and U.S. delegations.

Critics and historians argue that Roosevelt was an inexperienced dictator of the Soviet Union who based his Soviet policy on a realistic assessment of the balance of power that prevailed in post-war Europe. Soviet leaders justified their rule as a necessary step toward communism which is evident from what they did in order to win congressional support. In order to win support in the name of $400 million aid to Greece and Turkey, President Truman used the slogan of freedom versus dictatorship in the Truman Doctrine speech (Larson, 1997, p. 15). Moderates and radicals agree on the fact that from 1945 on, the United States employed its economic resources ruthlessly to prevent the Soviet Union from consolidating its control over Eastern Europe. The Truman administration drastically reduced lend-lease to coerce the USSR into conforming to American post-war aims and abruptly terminated all lend-lease shipments at to force the Russians to request credits for reconstruction to which it could attach harsh political and economic concessions (Herring, 1973, p. XVIII).

Soviet-American relations were on the way to deterioration while the United States was busy in developing the atomic bomb, which in the spring of 1945 was only a hypothetical weapon to ensure that everything possible must be done to secure Soviet participation in the war against Japan.

Disagreement of the Baruch Plan

With the deteriorated relationship between the two nations during 1946, the prospects for preventing a nuclear arms race also came to an end. When in June 1946, Bernard Baruch which was the U.S. representative to the UN Atomic Energy Commission, presented the U.S. plan for international control of atomic energy, it was unacceptable to the Soviet Union. However there were certain reasons to the denial. The Soviets have already possessed and an access to the promise they considered vague to destroy the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the indefinite future, furthermore Soviets were foresighting major risks to the plan that included loss of the veto on atomic energy matters, international inspection of Soviet scientific, industrial, and military facilities, and the possible curtailment of Soviet atomic energy development (Powaski, 1998, p. 71). This way the rejection of the Baruch plan was approved by the UN Atomic Energy Commission in 1946 following rejection by the Soviet Union which initiated a new era of nuclear arms race inevitable.

The Baruch Plan set as a witness to all Americans to accept the fact that the contention of the Truman administration was to confront and take precedence over a peace-making policy toward the Soviet Union. The Soviets also realised that with the possession of the atomic bomb, the United States has become sturdy and she is developing U.S. military bases around the periphery of the Soviet Union. The Commerce secretary Wallace identified ‘atomic disarmament’ to be the only solution as an effective system of enforcing it and when Wallace continued his criticism of the administration’s foreign policy in a speech Truman fired him eight days later.

The Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan was aimed to rebuild the war torn Europe with over $12 billion economic aid program. The economic recovery of Europe, administration officials realised, would help ensure that Western Europe remained politically stable, sufficiently conservative to protect America’s European economic investments, and, as a result, less susceptible to Soviet pressure. Although the Soviet Union and its East European satellite states were invited to participate in the Marshall Plan, it was soon apparent that their involvement would seriously compromise Soviet economic and political interests. In return for U.S. economic assistance, the Soviets feared the United States would require a Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Europe. Consequently, in 1947, the Soviet Union rejected the Marshall Plan and subsequently pressured its satellites to follow suit. Soviet developed Molotov Plan as an alternative to the Marshall Plan, this plan was to assist Soviets with their own economic assistance program. On both sides, the rival economic plans reinforced the then military division of Europe by creating competing economic spheres of influence. The result was the two economic assistance programs, one that escorted the West towards creating a market free economy while the other, Molotov Plan became the basis of ‘Comecon’, which welded the economies of Eastern Europe to the Soviet economy.

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Since the Soviets considered the viewpoint of a West German state with ties to the United States as a new German menace, therefore its prevention was the priority of the Soviet which it applied by pressurising the divided city of Berlin inside the Soviet zone. This the USSR accomplished in 1948 by restricting Western ground travel into West Berlin and by bringing it to a complete halt.

As a result, the Truman administration considered the Berlin blockade as a test of the West’s determination to defend the freedom and took dynamic countermeasures. The United States not only halted the traffic from USSR zone into West Berlin but also took certain steps like demonstrating its atomic power which consisted of sixty B-29s that were ‘atomic bombers’ they carried no atomic weapons. However it was not the threat of nuclear devastation that moved the Soviets to end their blockade of West Berlin but the blockade of Berlin was enough to make them hasten the formation towards an economically painful Western counter blockade of the Soviet zone. It was only that the Berlin blockade served as a propaganda that started presenting as a defeat for the Soviet Union, as it provided additional substance to the U.S. hard-line interpretation of Soviet intentions. When in 1949 the West agreed to lift their counter blockade the Soviets ended their blockade.

In 1949 the Western powers transformed their occupation zones into a West German state, the German Federal Republic and the USSR responded in the same year by establishing a communist puppet state in their zone, which they styled the German Democratic Republic (Powaski, 1998, p. 75). It was the division of Germany in 1949 that sealed the hopes for ending rivalry between American and Soviet spheres of influence.


The year 1949 is important in the history of USSR since this year the Soviets succeeded in detonating their first nuclear device. The Soviet atomic bomb directly contributed to the creation of America’s first entangling European alliance, NATO, in 1949. The North Atlantic alliance was a product of what came to be called the Cold War consensus. It held that, if the United States again withdrew into isolation, Western Europe would fall under the domination of another aggressive power, the Soviet Union, and this situation would again require U.S. military intervention. Therefore United States the Truman administration revolutionised the U.S. approach to war. 1949 was the year in which United States felt the need to prepare for war before its outbreak, in order to prevent it. This started a new era of nuclear weaponry which is still unstoppable to this day because it was never clear how much force would be needed to deter the start of a war.

The American people, influenced largely by the aggressiveness displayed by the Soviet Union after World War II, came to believe that it would be far less expensive in lives and wealth to prevent another global conflagration than it would be to win one after it had begun. Goldgeier (2001) writes about the opportunities from 1945 to 1947 that were missed by both the nations to counterfeit some type of cooperation before the blocs truly hardened in Europe (Goldgeier, 2001).

Work Cited

Goldgeier M. James, (2001) “The United States and Russia” In: Policy Review.

Herring Jr. C. George, (1973) Aid to Russia, 1941-1946: Strategy, Diplomacy, the Origins of the Cold War: Columbia University Press: New York.

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Larson Welch Deborah, (1997) Anatomy of Mistrust: U.S.-Soviet Relations during the Cold War: Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY.

Powaski E. Ronald, (1998) The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991: Oxford University Press: London.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 27). Relations Between the West and the USSR in 1945-1949.

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"Relations Between the West and the USSR in 1945-1949." StudyCorgi, 27 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Relations Between the West and the USSR in 1945-1949." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Relations Between the West and the USSR in 1945-1949." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Relations Between the West and the USSR in 1945-1949." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Relations Between the West and the USSR in 1945-1949'. 27 October.

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