Incorporation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina into the USSR. June – August 1940
In the spring and summer of 1940, the German Army won one victory after another in Europe. At this time, Romania activated its contacts with Germany and declared a partial mobilization of its army. the Soviet leadership was forced to put the issue of Bessarabia onto its agenda. This territory had been part of the Russian Empire until 1917, after which it was occupied by Romania during its intervention of 1918. the annexation of Bessarabia had never been recognised by the USSR.
In June 1926, the Soviet Union sent an official declaration to the Romanian government calling for the return of Bessarabia and the transfer of Northern Bukovina to the USSR. With its predominantly Ukrainian population, Northern Bukovina was viewed as compensation for the ‘extraordinary damages suffered by the Soviet Union and the inhabitants of Bessarabia from 22 years of Romanian domination’. the Soviet government voiced hopes that the issue could be settled in a peaceful manner.
Romania tried to obtain Germany’s support yet, after consultations with Berlin, agreed to the Soviet proposals on June 28. the same day, the Red Army entered Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, whose inhabitants joyfully welcomed the Soviet troops.
On June 30, the Soviet state border was traced along the rivers Danube and Prut. Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR and the newly created Moldavian SSR, and political and economic reforms were implemented there. In particular, manor estates were nationalized and transferred to peasants.
The British government took a neutral stance on the events in Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. As to the US government, it viewed the Soviet actions favourably, considering them to be defensive measures against Germany.