Soviet ‘Security Zones’ on  Stalin’s Maps. August 1939

On the eve of the German invasion of the USSR, the Soviet leadership did its best to preserve neutrality in the escalating world war and create a ‘security zone’ along the country’s western and southern borders.

J. Stalin’s personal archives contain two political maps of Europe on which the boundaries of this zone were sketched by the Soviet leader even before the arrival of German Foreign Minister J. von Ribbentrop in Moscow in August 1939.

This zone was intended to be quite large. The following areas were hatched in blue pencil on the map: Finland and the Aland Islands, the Karelian Isthmus, the Baltic states, Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine (which had been part of Poland on the eve of World War II), Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, and further down through Turkey and Iran to the Persian Gulf.

Apparently, the more realistic contours of a Soviet security zone were subsequently traced on the second map in red and blue pencil: the Karelian Isthmus, the Baltic states, the Gulfs of Finland and Riga, Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia, Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and the Bosporus between the Marmara and Black Seas.

From the standpoint of the Soviet leadership, the country’s ‘security zones’ consisted of territories that had formerly belonged to the Russian Empire or affected the national interests of the USSR.

[August 1939]
Russian State Archive of Social and Political History
Coll. 558, ser. 11, fold. 511.
Press proof
[August 1939]
Russian State Archive of Social and Political History
Coll. 558, ser. 11, fold. 510.
Press proof