30 years ago, the Warsaw Pact, Moscow’s armed response to NATO, and a way to channel Soviet military activity into satellite countries, ceased to exist. This military presence served above all as a device of coercion on its allies. Its creation did not lead to any war, but when it disappeared, a void remained that NATO quickly filled. Thus arose one of the current sources of tension with Russia, which believes that the Atlantic Alliance has come too close to its borders.
The entire strategy behind the formation of the Warsaw Pact had been driven by the Soviet Union’s desire to prevent Central and Eastern Europe from being used as a base for its enemies. And that is precisely the situation now.
In many cases, the non-Soviet members did not even have knowledge of the alliance’s war plans, as these were all made in secret by the Soviet Union. In addition, there were representatives sent to all the non-Soviet members to monitor their armies. These representatives were all Soviets, as were members of their staffs. In fact, 70% of the personnel in the Warsaw Pact’s Joint Armed Forces were Soviet. At the same time, the Soviet Union, although being a member of the pact itself, did not allow its own forces to be put under the command of the organization.
The cement that kept the pact in place was the so-called ‘Brezhnev doctrine’: intervention if a country appears to be violating basic socialist ideas. Everything began to unravel with the ‘Sinatra doctrine’, developed by the government of Mikhail Gorbachev: allowing the neighboring countries of the Warsaw Pact to resolve their internal affairs and decide their political evolution.
To the rhythm of ‘My Way’ (‘My Way’) Central Europe decided to veer west. Moscow has not yet gotten over that ‘shock’.