Buffer state

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A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers. Its existence can sometimes be thought to prevent conflict between them. A buffer state is sometimes a mutually agreed upon area lying between two greater powers, which is demilitarized in the sense of not hosting the military of either power (though it will usually have its own military forces). The invasion of a buffer state by one of the powers surrounding it will often result in war between the powers.

Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite states.

The concept of buffer states is part of the theory of balance of power that entered European strategic and diplomatic thinking in the 17th century.

Distinction from militarized Marches[edit]

Main article: March (territory)

A March (territory) is a fortified non-homeland territory for defense against a rival power. A March is controlled by a greater power, whereas a true buffer state is deliberately left alone by rival powers situated either side of it.

Historical buffer states[edit]

Other examples of buffer states include:




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mearsheimer, John J. (13 March 2014). "Getting Ukraine Wrong". New York Times. Washington has a deep-seated interest in ending this conflict and maintaining Ukraine as a sovereign buffer state between Russia and NATO.