Warsaw Pact

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The Warsaw Pact (Officially the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance, Russian Договор о дружбе, сотрудничестве и взаимной помощи) was a political and military organization made up of the communist states of Central Europe and the Soviet Union. The Warsaw Pact was officially formed on May 14, 1955, in response to the integration of West Germany in to NATO. During its existence only one military operation, the "Danube" Operation, was executed. The military intervention, also known as the Prague Spring, was carried out on 21 August 1968. The Warsaw Pact effectively lasted until November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell[1] and officially ceased to exist on July 1, 1991.[2]


Immediately after the World War II, Soviet General Secretary of the Communist Party Josef Stalin, sent Konstantin Rokossovsky to Warsaw and gave him the title of Marshal of Poland to add to his existing rank as Marshal of the Soviet Union. In Warsaw Rokossovsky held the posts of Minister of Defence, Deputy President of the Council of Ministers and Member of the Politburo of the Polish Communist Party. Thus a Marshal of the Soviet Union served as deputy to the head of the Polish government. Rokossovsky, nor any other General in the Polish army, spoke Polish, relying constantly on interpreters. The relationship between Generalissimo of the Soviet Union, J. V. Stalin and Rokossovsky was based upon the fact that Stalin gave the orders, and that Rokossovsky carried them out.

All decisions were taken in the Kremlin and monitored by the Kremlin. The Defence Ministers of the Central European countries were regarded as equal in status to the Commanders of Soviet Military Districts and they came under the direct command of the Soviet Minister of Defence. All appointments and postings were decided upon by the Kremlin. The Defence Ministers of the `sovereign' states of Central Europe were either appointed from the ranks of Soviet generals or were `assisted' by Soviet military advisers. In Romania and Bulgaria, for instance, one such `adviser' was Marshal of the Soviet Union Tolbukhin. In East Germany there was Marshal Zhukov himself, in Hungary Marshal of the Soviet Union Konev. Each adviser had at his disposal at least one tank army, several all-arms armies and special SMERSH, or Red Army Counterintelligence punitive detachments.

East German Communist party boss Walter Ulbricht played a keyrole at the foundation of the Warsaw Pact. In 1961 Ulbricht built the Berlin Wall to stop the refugee flood to West Berlin.[3]

In Czechoslovakia there was Ludwig Svoboda, who neutralised the Czech army in 1948 and again in 1968. He carried out the orders of the USSR promptly so it was not necessary to keep a Soviet Marshal in Prague holding a ministerial post in the Czech government. During World War II all of the Central European countries had been enemies of the Soviet Union and it was therefore possible to execute any political figure, general, officer or private soldier, at any given time and replace them with someone more cooperative with the socialist system.


After the death of Stalin, the Soviet government, headed by Marshal of the Soviet Union Nikolai Bulganin, decided to conclude an official military agreement with the countries it was occupying. The signatory for the Soviet Union was Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Zhukov, and for the Polish socialist regime Marshal of the Soviet Union Rokossovsky, assisted by Colonel-General S. G. Poplavsky—Rokossovsky's deputy. Marshal of the Soviet Union Bulganin, who was present at the ceremony, took the opportunity to award Colonel-General Poplavsky the rank of General of the Army. Poplavsky, who signed for Poland, was also a Soviet general and the subordinate of Marshals Bulganin, Zhukov and Rokossovsky. Within two years Poplavsky had returned to the USSR and become deputy to the Inspector General of the Soviet Army. Rokossovsky, Poplavsky, Fyodor Petrovich Polynin[4] and the others were compelled by Soviet legislation to carry out the orders which reached them from Moscow. The Warsaw Treaty did not fundamentally change Poland's dependence upon the USSR.


The Warsaw Pact structures included: the Political Advisory Committee, the Committee of the Ministers of Defense, the Technical Committee, the United Command of the Armed Forces, and the United Armed Forces. The Political Advisory Committee consisted of prime ministers, foreign ministers, defense ministers and leaders of the communist parties of the signatory countries of the Agreement. Their task was to develop a set of consolidated views on issues related to the common strategy against political-military threats. The Committee of Ministers of Defense had to work out joint military procedures, training systems, exercises and military manoeuvres. The Technical Committee dealt with the modernization of weapons and equipment of the Pact forces.

The United Armed Forces consisted of quotas issued by individual countries belonging to the Warsaw Pact. The size of these quotas was fixed every five years in bilateral agreements between the Soviet Union and the Pact states. On the Polish side, there were: the 1st General Military Army and 2nd General Military Army, numbering five divisions each (these constituted the first army operations group and were used during the "Danube" Operation), the 4th General Military Army (three divisions), two reserve divisions and the 3rd Aviation Army. In total, there were 15 army divisions, including five armored divisions, which constituted the Polish Front.


Warsaw Pact members considered themselves still facing a threat from undefeated elements and allies of the Axis Powers.[5] {Left) Chief of the General Staff of the German Army Gen. Adolf Heusinger, Gen. Friedrich von Paulus who was captured at Stalingrad, and Adolf Hitler; (right) Gen. Adolf Heusinger as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (1961-1964).

During the Organisation's first thirteen years the Ministers of Defence of the sovereign states, whether they were pro-Soviet puppets or actual Soviet generals and Marshals, were subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief, who was appointed by the Soviet government and who was himself Deputy Minister of Defence of the USSR. Thus, even in a legal sense, the Ministers of these theoretically sovereign states were directly subordinated to a Soviet Minister's deputy.

After the Prague Spring in 1968, the Consultative Committee was set up. In this committee, Ministers of Defence and Heads of State from the Central European occupied countries gathered to talk as equals and allies, but in reality all decisions were still made in the Kremlin. During 'Operation Danube', the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the `allied' divisions of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation were integrated in the Soviet Armies. None of the Central European countries had the right to set up its own Corps, Armies or Fronts. They had only divisions commanded by Soviet generals. In the event of war with Nato, they would be fully integrated into the United (or Soviet) Armed Forces.

Brezhnev Doctrine

See also: Prague Spring

In 1968 elements of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia rapidly began to reform their rule, loosen censorship, and strengthen Western ties. In response, Soviet and other Warsaw Pact troops entered Czechoslovakia and installed a new regime. Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev announced, "Now the situation in brotherly Czechoslovakia is completely normalized." Out of these events arose the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine, which warned that the Soviet Union would act to maintain its hegemony in Eastern Europe. Soviet suppression of the reform movement reduced blatant gestures of defiance on the part of Romania and served as a threatening example to the Polish Solidarity trade union movement in 1980. But it also helped disillusion communist parties in Western Europe to the extent that by 1977 most of the leading parties embraced Eurocommunism, which freed them to pursue political programs independent of Moscow's dictates.

Strategic objectives 1966-1980

Strategic objectives changed in the years 1966-1980. The possibility was accepted that there could be a gradual development of acts of war, starting from conventional operations, through to the limited use of nuclear weapons and the large-scale use of weapons of mass destruction. The use of nuclear weapons would only occur if they were first used by NATO troops. Consequently, there were provisions for a strategic attack on enemy territory, breaking resistance and capturing economically important areas.

Another change in the doctrine occurred in the 80's, when the concept of maintaining constant readiness to conduct various activities was developed. The Warsaw Pact army had to be ready to conduct a world war (with or without the use of nuclear weapons), and to conduct a number of local conflicts with the use of conventional weapons. Finally, the possibility of the implementation of pre-emptive nuclear attacks was excluded. However, the possibility of conducting wide-ranging defense activities was accepted.[6]


In the 1980s the concept of maintaining constant readiness to conduct various activities was developed. The Warsaw Pact army had to be ready to conduct a world war (with or without the use of nuclear weapons), and to conduct a number of local conflicts with the use of conventional weapons. A No-Nuclear First Strike doctrine was adopted. However, the possibility of conducting wide-ranging asymmetrical warfare activities was accepted.


To assent to the reunification of Germany, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ultimately agreed to a proposal from then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker (DOS) that a reunited Germany would be part of NATO but the military alliance would not move “one inch” to the east, that is, absorb any of the former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO.[7][8]

Gorbachev and Yeltsin agreed to collapsing the Soviet Union in exchange for a non-NATO expansion pledge. In 2021 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg denied such agreements ever existed or discussions even took place.[9]

On Feb. 9, 1990, Baker said: “We consider that the consultations and discussions in the framework of the 2+4 mechanism should give a guarantee that the reunification of Germany will not lead to the enlargement of NATO’s military organization to the East.” On the next day, then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said: “We consider that NATO should not enlarge its sphere of activity.”[10] Gorbachev's mistake was not to get it in writing as a legally-binding agreement.[11]

“U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous ‘not one inch eastward’ assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents …

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels. … The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of ‘pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.’ …

President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage (‘I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall”) of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests.’”[12]

The minutes of a March 6, 1991 meeting in Bonn, West Germany between political directors of the foreign ministries of the US, UK, France, and Germany contain multiple references to “2+4” talks on German unification in which Western officials made it “clear” to the Soviet Union that NATO would not push into territory east of Germany. “We made it clear to the Soviet Union – in the 2+4 talks, as well as in other negotiations – that we do not intend to benefit from the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe,” the document in British foreign ministry archives quotes US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada Raymond Seitz. “NATO should not expand to the east, either officially or unofficially,” Seitz added. A British representative also mentions the existence of a “general agreement” that membership of NATO for eastern European countries is “unacceptable.”[13]


  1. The Warsaw Pact, Fordham University
  2. https://en.topwar.ru/184619-nachinali-s-glavnogo-k-30-letiju-samolikvidacii-varshavskogo-dogovora.html?ysclid=lqsvuozfqn526467192
  3. Walter Ulbricht. The Cold War Museum via Archive.vn. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  4. Polynin fought in China in 1938-39 under a Chinese name and was given Chinese nationality. Although a Chinese subject, he was made a 'Hero of the Soviet Union'. He returned to the Soviet Union and reverted to Soviet nationality. In 1944 he became a Polish general in the Polish Home Army. He never learned Polish. Polynin was also a Soviet General. As a member of the Lublin Committee he was made Commander of the Air Force of Communist Poland. In 1946, while still holding this position, he received the rank of Colonel-General of the Soviet Air Force. The announcement that this rank had been awarded to the officer commanding the Polish Air Force was signed by the President of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Generalissimo of the Soviet Union, J. V. Stalin. After a further period in Poland, Polynin resumed his Soviet rank and was given the post of Deputy to the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Air Forces. During his years in command of the Polish Air Force, Polynin never learned a word of Polish. None of his subordinates in the Polish Air Force spoke Polish either. Their orders came from Moscow in Russian.
  6. https://enrs.eu/article/dissolution-of-the-warsaw-pact-1-july-1991
  7. https://substackcdn.com/image/fetch/w_1456,c_limit,f_webp,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fsubstack-post-media.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F03c2978a-e903-461c-943e-8124481200b2_772x590.jpeg
  8. https://substackcdn.com/image/fetch/w_600,c_limit,f_webp,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fpbs.substack.com%2Fmedia%2FFs9pHl7XoAUzGW5.jpg
  9. https://www.rt.com/russia/544257-nato-boss-expansion-proposals/
  10. https://consortiumnews.com/2022/01/28/the-tangled-tale-of-nato-expansion-at-the-heart-of-ukraine-crisis/
  11. For years it was believed there was no written record of the Baker-Gorbachev exchange at all, until the National Security Archive at George Washington University in December 2017 published a series of memos and cables about these assurances against NATO expansion eastward.
  12. https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017-12-12/nato-expansion-what-gorbachev-heard-western-leaders-early
  13. https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/nato-osterweiterung-aktenfund-stuetzt-russische-version-a-1613d467-bd72-4f02-8e16-2cd6d3285295