Warsaw Pact

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Map of Warsaw Pact member countries.
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seal of the Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact or Warsaw Treaty, officially named the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance, was a military alliance of the Eastern European Eastern Bloc countries, who intended to organize against the perceived threat from the NATO alliance (which had been established in 1949). The creation of the Warsaw Pact was prompted by the integration of a "re-militarized" West Germany into NATO via ratification of the Paris Agreements. The Warsaw treaty was drafted by Nikita Khrushchev in 1955 and signed in Warsaw on May 14, 1955.

The pact came to an end on March 31, 1991, and was officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague on July 1, 1991.



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Key Warsaw Pact figures. From right; East German Defence Minister Heinz Hoffmann, Polish Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski, Warsaw Pact Commander in Chief Viktor Kulikov, and Czechoslovakian Defence Minister Martin Dzr discussing Warsaw Pact manoeuvres in Poland, March 1981.

All the communist states of Eastern Europe were signatories except Yugoslavia. The members of the Warsaw Pact pledged to defend each other if one or more of the members were attacked. The treaty also stated that relations among the signatories were based on mutual noninterference in internal affairs and respect for national sovereignty and independence - however this would later be violated with the interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Albania stopped supporting the alliance in 1961 as a result of the Sino-Soviet split in which the hard-line Stalinist regime in Albania sided with the People's Republic of China, and officially withdrew from it in 1968.


During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the government broke into two factions, one run by Imre Nagy and one run by Jnos Kdr. To lower tension, Warsaw Pact troops withdrew from Hungary during the internal dispute. However, when Imre Nagy's faction stated that Hungary was withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact, the troops re-entered Hungary at Kdr's invitation in October 1956 in support of his faction, and crushed the resistance in two weeks.

Warsaw Pact forces were utilised at times, such as during the 1968 Prague Spring, when they invaded Czechoslovakia to put down the reform movement that were being led by Alexander Dubcek's government.

The chief of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia's military department, Lieutenant General Vaclav Prchlik had already denounced the Warsaw Pact in a televised news conference as an unequal alliance and declared that the Czechoslovak Army was prepared to defend the country's sovereignty by force, if necessary. On August 20, 1968, a force consisting of 23 Soviet Army divisions entered Czechoslovakia. Taking part in the invasion were also one Hungarian, two East German and two Polish divisions along with one Bulgarian brigade. Romania refused to contribute troops. The East Germans did not enter Czechoslovakia, as pact commanders did not want the Czechs drawing parallels to the Nazi invasion.

This intervention was explained by the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which the Soviet Union reserved for itself the right to intervene within countries of the pact that were in danger of 'straying' from the teachings of communism, especially those accused of intending to change to capitalism.

After the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Albania formally withdrew from the pact, although Albania had stopped supporting the pact as early as 1962. The Romanian leader, Ceausescu denounced the invasion as a violation of both international law and of the Warsaw Pact's principle of mutual noninterference in internal affairs, saying that collective self-defense against external aggression was the only valid mission of the Warsaw Pact.

NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries never engaged each other in armed conflict, but fought the Cold War for more than 35 years. In December 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev, then leader of the Soviet Union, proposed the so-called Sinatra Doctrine which stated that the Brezhnev Doctrine would be abandoned and that the Eastern European countries could do as they wished. When it was clear that the Soviet Union would no longer use force to control the Warsaw Pact countries, a series of rapid changes started in Eastern Europe in 1989. The new governments in Eastern Europe were much less supportive to the Warsaw Pact, and in January 1991 Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland announced that they would withdraw all support by July 1st that year. Bulgaria followed suit in February, and became clear that the pact was effectively dead. The pact was officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague on July 1st, 1991.

Post-Warsaw Pact

On 12 March, 1999, former Warsaw Pact members the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland joined NATO. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia followed suit in March 2004 along with Slovenia.

On April 1st, 1996, a Russian news corporation incorrectly proclaimed that the Russian Parliament was debating a possible revival of the Warsaw Pact. The report circulated around former Warsaw Pact countries, including at that time already separated Czech Republic and Slovakia and also Bulgaria. Several hours later, ITAR-TASS, the agency which began the hoax, issued an apology for any coaused.


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