12 April 2023

What is the Warsaw Pact? – Know the functions of the Warsaw Pact

By Donald

The Warsaw Pact was a military alliance formed by the socialist countries of Eastern Europe under the influence of the Soviet Union. It was created in 1955 in response to West Germany joining NATO and lasted until 1991, when it was dissolved after the end of the Cold War. Next, we are going to analyze the objectives, members and the main actions of this pact, as well as its impact on history and the political image worldwide.

Concept and meaning of the Warsaw Pact

The concept of the Warsaw Pact, refers to a military cooperation agreement between the countries of the Eastern block, led by the Soviet Union, which was signed on May 14, 1955 in the capital of Poland. According to his definition, it arose as a response to the formation of NATO, a military alliance of Western countries, which represented a threat to communism.

Its main objective was the mutual defense against a possible NATO attackas well as the coordination and integration of the armed forces of the member countries.

Besides this, served to maintain political and military control on the eastern countries of the European continent, avoiding any attempt at rebellion or democratic reform. The Warsaw Pact lasted until 1991, when it dissolved after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism in Europe.

What are the causes of the Warsaw Pact?

The causes that led to the creation of the Warsaw Pact were diverse, but can be summarized in the following:

  • Ideological and political rivalry between the capitalist bloc and the socialist bloc. Which led to an arms race and an indirect confrontation through regional conflicts.
  • The creation of NATO in 1949, as a defensive military alliance between the United States, Canada and several European countries, which posed a challenge to Soviet influence in Eastern Europe.
  • West German rearmament and its integration into NATO in 1955, as part of the reconstruction and reconciliation process after World War II. This was seen by the Soviet Union as a threat to its security and its hegemony over the satellite countries.
  • The will to consolidate the political and military control of the Soviet Union in the socialist nations of Eastern Europe, which had been liberated from Nazism by the Red Army during World War II.
  • The need to modernize and coordinate the armed forces of the socialist countries, as well as establishing a legal framework for military cooperation and collective defense.

What is the main objective of the Warsaw Pact?

Was establish a military alliance between the socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, to deal with the threat of NATO and the rearmament of West Germany.

It was based on the principle of defense and mutual aid in case of external aggression, as well as in cooperation for the maintenance of peace and socialism in Europe. However, it also served to suppress dissident movements within the Eastern bloc, as occurred in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991, after the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War.

Functions of the Warsaw Pact

It had several functions that sought to guarantee the security and stability of the socialist bloc against the Western threat. Among the main we can highlight the following:

  • Defend yourself in the event of a NATO attack or any of its members. This implied that if a country of the pact presented an aggression on the part of a capitalist power, the others had to come to its aid. Thus, the pact was intended to discourage Western countries from starting a war against the socialist bloc, by showing their unity and ability to respond.
  • Modernize and coordinate the armed forces of the Eastern Bloc countries and conduct joint military exercises. The pact established a unified command under the control of the Soviet Union, which supplied weapons and advice to its allies. Member countries had to allocate a significant part of their budget to defense. As well as, participate in military maneuvers to improve their preparation and their own operability.
  • Cooperate in keeping the peace in Europe and prevent the rearmament of West Germany. The pact was presented as a peaceful organization that sought to preserve the balance of forces on the continent and avoid a new world war. He was opposed to the integration of West Germany into NATO and its access to nuclear weapons, considering that this posed a danger to European peace and security.
  • Repel any attempt to overthrow socialist governments of the member countries, as happened in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968. It served as an instrument of political and ideological control of the Soviet Union over its allies, who had to follow its guidelines and not deviate from the socialist model. The pact allowed the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in member countries. This was in case they triggered reformist or dissident movements that threatened the established order.

What are the characteristics of the Warsaw Pact?

The Warsaw Pact had the following characteristics:

  • It was made up of eight member states.
  • consisted of eleven articles written four languages: Russian, German, Polish and Czech.
  • It was valid for 20 years, renewable for another twenty more, and each State could revoke it one year in advance.
  • It enabled a Political Advisory Committee to coordinate the political actions of the member countries.
  • It was based on the principles of sovereign equalitynon-interference in internal affairs, respect for national independence and territorial integrity, and socialist solidarity.

Who are the members of the Warsaw Pact?

The countries that made up the Warsaw Pact were the following:

  1. Albania.
  2. East Germany.
  3. Bulgaria.
  4. Czechoslovakia.
  5. Hungary.
  6. Poland.
  7. Romania.
  8. Soviet Union.

These countries they vowed to defend themselves in the event of an external attack, to cooperate in the maintenance of peace and security in Europe and to repress any attempt to subvert the socialist order in their territories.

What type of organization is the Warsaw Pact?

The type of organization was a military, which sought cooperation in defense and security of the countries that comprise it. However, it also had a political and ideological character, since it tried to maintain fidelity to socialism and dependence on the Soviet Union.

The organization of this pact was made up of various bodies and committeesamong which stood out:

  • The Political Advisory Council. It was the supreme body of the pact, made up of the heads of state or government of the member countries. It met at least once a year to discuss the political and strategic issues of the alliance. In addition to this, it could adopt resolutions and recommendations on issues of common interest.
  • The Committee of Defense Ministers. This was in charge of planning and directing the military activities of the pact. It was made up of the ministerial authorities of the member countries and met at least twice a year. Its function was to prepare and approve the joint defense plans, as well as to supervise the performance of the Armed Forces.
  • The Unified General Staff. It was the executive body of the Committee of Defense Ministers, made up of high-ranking military representatives of the member countries. Its headquarters were in Moscow and its boss was a Soviet marshal. Its mission was to prepare and coordinate the pact’s military operations, as well as organize unified exercises and maneuvers.
  • The Joint Command of the Armed Forces. He was responsible for conducting military operations in case of war or crisis. He was subordinate to the Unified General Staff and the Committee of Defense Ministers. Its headquarters were in Legnica (Poland) and its boss was a Soviet general. His task was to direct the pact’s land, air, and naval forces, as well as control the use of nuclear weapons.

In addition to these bodies, the Warsaw Pact had other specialized committees on issues such as the economy, science, culture or education. These They were responsible for promoting cooperation. and the exchange between member countries in their respective fields.

How is the Warsaw Pact used today?

It no longer exists as is. However, his legacy is still present in international relations and in regional conflicts. Some of the former member countries, such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania, have joined NATO and the European Union, bringing them closer to the West and further away from Russia.

Other nations, such as Belarus and Ukraine, have maintained closer ties with this country, which has generated tensions and conflicts with its western neighbours. For example, Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine have led to a diplomatic and military crisis between the Russian Federation and NATO, reminiscent of the Warsaw Pact days.

is used as a historical reference to understand the origin and development of the alliances and the political and economic division that was established between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe after the Second World War.

Besides this, used as a way to compare differences ideological, economic and cultural differences between the former blocs. It is a source of inspiration for some political movements that claim socialism or communism as alternatives to the current system.