Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
June 1940 Soviet Ultimatum
On July 21 1936, Maxim Litvinov and Nicolae Titulescu, the Soviet and Romanian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, signed a "Protocol of Mutual Assistance". It was a non-aggressiveness treaty between Romania and the Soviet Union, that recognized the factual Soviet-Romanian border. The protocol stipulated that any common Romanian-Soviet action should be priorly approved by France. Negotiating with the Soviet Union, Titulescu was highly criticized by the Romanian far-right exponents of Germany and Italy politics. However, both Titulescu and Litvinov were dismissed in 1936, respectively 1939.
In the secret appendix of 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union showed "its interest" in Bessarabia, since Germany "declares its complete political disinteredness in these areas". In June 1940, just days before the Soviet ultimatum, France's surrender and Britain's retreat from Europe rendered meaningless their assurances to Romania. On June 2, Germany informed the Romanian government that in order to receive territorial guarantees, Romania should consider negotiations with the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union used its status of great power in a manner learned from German diplomacy of that time. The German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop was informed by the Soviet intentions regarding Bessarabia and Bukovina on June 24. Ribbentrop rose worries for the fate of the German ethnics in these two provinces, alleging the number of Germans in Bessarabia on 100,000. In fact, these two provinces had a large concentration of Jewish population. Also, Ribbentrop pointed clearly that Germany has strong economical interests in the rest of Romanian territory, in what could appear as a partition of Romania between Germany and the Soviet Union.
The text of the ultimatum note of June 26 distorted the realities alleging that Bessarabia is populated mainly by Ukrainians. The Soviet Government demanded the northern part of Bukovina, a province considered to be connected with Galicia that was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939 Poland's partition. The northern part of Bukovina was requested as a minor "reparation for the great loss produced to the Soviet Union and Bessarabia's population by 22 years of Romanian domination of Bessarabia".
The Soviet ultimatum note of June 27 requested the evacuation of the Romanian government from Bessarabia and northern Bukovina in four days. On the next day, advised by both Germany and Italy, the Romanian government, led by Gheorghe Tatarescu under the rule of king Carol II, agreed to submit to the Soviet pretentions and the territory was ceded at the beginning of July.
On August 2, the Soviet government created the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian SSR), with its capital at Chisinau, by joining the central part of Bessarabia with the western part of the Moldavian ASSR, created in Ukrainian SSR in 1924. The northern Bukovina and Bessarabia, the southern Bessarabia (including access points to the Black Sea, the mouth of Danube, and Nistru estuary) and the rest of Moldavian ASSR were partitioned to Ukrainian SSR.
The existence in the Soviet Union of a Moldovian republic, that did include the eastern part of the historical country of Moldova, was logically seen by the Romanian government as another Soviet threat.
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