Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401
by Prof. Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met with Soviet leader Josef Stalin at Yalta, on the Crimean peninsula. The "Big Three" (as they were known) met as allies to plan the future of Europe and the world after the defeat of Nazi Germany which lay ahead some three months later. Underlying the discussions: the Red Army then controlled virtually all of Eastern Europe.
1. USSR to join the war against Japan within 3 months after the end of hostilities in Europe. In exchange it was agreed that they would be given control of Mongolia; and control over the Sakhalin Islands and the Kuril Islands. These latter "Northern Territories" remain a territorial dispute between Japan and Russia.
2. China: USSR was conceded control over Port Arthur and Darien was designated as an international port under Soviet operation. Soviet influence over Northern China and part of Korea (undefined), and management of the northern Chinese Railroads also were agreed to by Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt.
3. The U.N.: Yalta provided that the USSR would join the United Nations after the war. Its Security Council was set up to act on the unanimity principle among the five permanent members, not the majority rule principle. (The U.S., Britain, France, China, and the USSR were these five permanent members of the Security Council; Russia replaced the U.S.S.R. in 1992). Two Soviet republics, Ukraine SSR and Byelorussia SSR, were given seats in the General Assembly under the Yalta agreements.
4. Eastern Europe: Here misunderstandings (at best) and completely incompatible perceptions of national iinterests (at worst) were papered over by the Big Three at Yalta.The US accepted a joint "Declaration on Liberated Europe" as a guide to post-war developments there, rather than the State Department's recommendation that a "Commission on Liberated Areas" rule in Eastern and Central Europe after the War. The "Declaration..." called for the big powers to help create "democratic institutions" in the occupied areas.
Misunderstanding about what the Soviets meant by "democratic institutions" contributed to the end of cooperation between the US and the USSR, contributing to the outbreak of the Cold War, 1946-48.
Complete texts of the Yalta Agreements are available at the Avalon Project, Yale University School of Law.
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