A satellite nation, or satellite nation, is a nation that is aligned or under the influence of another nation.
The term satellite nation was first used to describes certain nations in the Cold War that were aligned with or under the influence and pressure of the soviet union. The term “satellite nation” was coined as an analogy to planetary objects orbiting a larger object, such as moons around planets. Countries in the West started using the term “satellite nation” to describe these nations as they were held in the orbit or gravitational pull of the Soviet Union.
The satellite nations of the Soviet Union had long histories with Russia because of their geographical proximity and has relations well established before World War II. During the war, many of these nations looked to Russia for support against an aggressive Germany. As Germany swept through Eastern Europe, many of these nations became closer to the Soviet Union. At the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942, Soviet forces pushed German forces back to Berlin, liberating Eastern Europe along the way. While doing so, Soviet forces stay stationed in these countries. By the end of the war, most of Eastern Europe was under Soviet control.
At the Yalta Conference in 1945, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met to discuss how post-war Germany and Europe should be organized. Stalin argued that the Soviet Union should lead the rebuilding and assisting of Eastern European nations. Stalin pledged to allow free elections in all territories liberated from Nazi Germany. While the United States saw the Yalta agreements as a carry-over of U.S.-Soviet wartime cooperation, the sentiment was short-lived. By the end of April 1945, the new presidential administration under Harry S. Truman clashed with the Soviet Union over its influence in Eastern Europe and over the United Nations.
Following World War II, most eastern and central European countries were occupied by the Soviet Union, forming the Soviet Empire. The Soviet Union organized Cominform, the Communist Information Bureau, which enforced political and ideological conformity. Stalinist systems were established in each country through a series of coalition governments and forced liquidation of coalition members that the Soviets did not approve of. The Stalinists controlled the existing governments, law enforcement, press, and radio in these countries.
As Europe attempted to recover from the war, the United States initiated the Marshall Plan, promising aid to any country that applied for help. The Soviet Union responded to this by creating Comecon in 1949, which promised economic aid to its members and kept the economies of the satellites tied to the Soviet Union.
The satellite nations of the Cold War were:
- People’s Socialist Republic of Albania
- Polish People’s Republic
- People’s Republic of Bulgaria
- People’s Republic of Romania
- Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
- German Democratic Republic (East Germany)
- Hungarian People’s Republic
Other satellite nations included the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, and Mongolian People’s Republic. The Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia broke from Soviet influence in 1948 and formed the Non-Aligned Movement. The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’s government was aligned with the Eastern Bloc from 1978 to 1992 and received military support from the Soviet Union between 1979 and 1989. The Mongolian People’s Republic was a Soviet satellite nation from 1924 to 1991 and was so tightly controlled by and reliant on the Soviet Union that it did not exist past the dissolution of the Soviet Union.