Soviet territorial claims against Turkey
Soviet territorial claims to Turkey from 1945 to 1953 consisted of several different proposals for normalizing the Soviet-Turkish border in a way favorable to the Soviet Union and relevant constituent nationalities in the Eastern Anatolia Region. According to the memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, the deputy premier Lavrentiy Beria (1946–1953) pressed Joseph Stalin to claim eastern Anatolian territory that had been supposedly been stolen from Georgia by the Turks. For practical reasons, the Soviet claims, if successful, would have strengthened the state's position around the Black Sea and would weaken British imperial influence in the Middle East.
The Soviet Union had long objected to the Montreaux Convention of 1936 which gave Turkey sole control over shipping between the Bosphorus strait, an essential waterway for Russian exports. When the 1925 Soviet-Turkish Treaty of Friendship and Neutrality expired in 1945, the Soviet side chose not to renew the treaty. The Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov told the Turks that Georgian and Armenian claims to Turkish-controlled territory would have to be resolved before the conclusion of a new treaty. The disputed territory around Kars and Ardahan was governed by the Russian Empire from 1878 to 1921, when it was ceded to Turkey by Russia but continued to be inhabited by members of the respective ethnies who now had titular Soviet Socialist Republics. Molotov argued that while the Soviets normalized their border with Poland since territorial cessions to the country during Soviet weakness in 1921, similar cessions to Turkey were never legitimized by renegotiation since that time.
There were three Soviet plans concerning the amount of territory that Turkey should cede:
- The First plan included the territory of former Kars Oblast and Surmalu uyezd of Erivan Governorate (city of Iğdır and surroundings) that were part of the Russian Empire from 1878 until 1918 and then part of the Democratic Republic of Armenia in 1918–1920.
- The Second plan included the Alashkert plain and the city of Bayazet added to Kars and Surmalu.
- The Third plan included most of eastern Anatolia (Erzurum, Van, Moush, Bitlis) added to Kars, Surmalu and Alashkert plain.
The Soviet government wanted to repatriate those from the Armenian diaspora in the acquired territories, since in three years (1946–1948) after the World War II about 150,000 ethnic Armenians (Western Armenians and their descendants) from Syria, Lebanon, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, and France had migrated to Soviet Armenia.
Strategically, the United States opposed Soviet annexation of the Kars Plateau for its necessity to defend Turkey. Ideologically, certain elements in the American government saw the Soviet territorial claims as expansionist and reminiscent of Nazi irredentism over the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia. Since 1934, the State Department had concluded that its earlier support for Armenia since President Wilson (1913-1921) had expired since the loss of Armenian independence. The United States' firm opposition to Soviet-backed self-determination movements in Turkey and Persia led to the crushing and re-annexation of the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad (1946–1947) and Azeri Azerbaijan People's Government (1945–1946) by Persia. Turkey joined the anti-Soviet military alliance NATO in 1952. Following the death of Stalin in 1953, the Soviet government renounced its territorial claims on Turkey, as part of an effort to promote friendly relations with the Middle Eastern country and its alliance partner, the United States.
- (Russian) Рецензия на сборник «Армения и советско-турецкие отношения»
- Suny, Ronald Grigor (1993). Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History. Indiana University Press. p. 169, 175-176.
- Roberts, Geoffrey (2011). Molotov: Stalin's Cold Warrior. Potomac Books. pp. 107–108.
- Ro'i, Yaacov (1974). From Encroachment to Involvement: A Documentary Study of Soviet Policy in the Middle East, 1945-1973. Transaction Publisher. pp. 106–107.