THE Soviet Union emerged from victory in World War II with enlarged territories both in Europe and in Asia. The effect of ideological factors on Soviet policy receives so much attention today that one often forgets how strong an influence territorial changes in themselves exert upon subsequent policy. New boundaries may settle quarrels--or may exacerbate them. They may mark the limits of expansion of some Power--or the jumping-off places for greater advances. A careful scrutiny of the territorial acquisitions of the U.S.S.R. and of the strategic significance of the new frontiers which they have traced upon the map of Europe and Asia may offer clues to the direction of future Soviet moves.
A British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, who was also an eminent geographer, once wrote: "Frontiers are indeed the razor's edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war and peace, of life and death to nations." And although it is probably true that frontier incidents alone are now unlikely to be the cause of a major war, they certainly can be the pretext. Of the danger spots of the last five years--Greece, Berlin, Jugoslavia, Tibet, Indo-China, Turkey and Korea--only the last two lie strictly adjacent to the frontiers of the U.S.S.R. But it is not easily forgotten that the power of the Soviet Union extends far beyond its own boundaries both in Europe and in Asia, thanks to its occupation forces in Germany and Austria, its military lines of communication through Rumania, Hungary and Poland, its creation of satellite neighbors and its privileged position in Manchuria.
Though the international boundaries of the Soviet Union are only about half as long as its coastline, they stretch for 10,000 miles. They delimit 11 bordering states, six in Europe and five in Asia. The sheer length of an international boundary, and the physical geography of the frontier region in which it lies, afford of course no criteria of frontier tension. Witness the war which Bolivia waged against
Loading, please wait...