Why the USSR Didn’t Veto the UN Coaliation against the North Korea in 1950

We all know in 1950 after the North Korea invaded its southern counterpart, the UN passed a solution with a coaliation led by the US to punish the North Korea. The weird thing was during the UN meeting, the USSR as ally of the North Korea didn’t veto the resolution and even join the meeting yet.

Someone said the USSR had misunderstood the procedure of the UN as it thought walking out of the meeting as a protest would invalidate the vote. And others thought it just used this performance art as a protest. If there statements were true, would they not imply the USSR and its dictator were so stupid and naive?

From my point of views, only those who had little knowledge of world history would believe the USSR made a mistake due to its misunderstanding of the UN rules. It was more self evident when we reviewed the process of this drama. On the voting day, Yakov Malik, the USSR ambassador to the UN was not back home, but in New York and near the UN HQ instead. And before the vote in the afternoon, Malik had lunch with the officials of the UN and US together. When one UN official asked Malik when he could join as the agenda to be voted was very important to the USSR. Malik replied that he would not join the vote just in front of American counterparts having lunch. It was quite obvious as a seasoned diplomat, there was no way Malik made this statements by himself and he should have accepted instructions from Moscow( and it was very probable from Stalin himself) not to vote and then he could answer like that, which reminded the US that his country would not intervene and be happy to witness the US to send their troops.

Then we have another question, why the USSR or Stalin did this? The following telegram was from Joseph Stalin to Czechoslovak President Klement Gottwald on 27 August 1950 in which the Soviet leader explained his decision.This important document was first published in the original Russian in Novaya I Noveishaya Istoriia in 2005 :

“Top Secret

Prague, Soviet Ambassador

Pass Gottwald the following message orally. Put it in writing if he so requests.

“We view the issue of the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from the Security Council on 27 June and the events which unfolded afterwards somewhat differently from Comrade Gottwald.

We left the Security Council for four reasons: first, to demonstrate solidarity of the Soviet Union with the new China.

Second, to underscore the foolishness and idiocy of the United States policy of recognizing the Guomindang puppet in the Security Council as the representative of China and not wanting to admit the genuine representative of China to the Security Council; third, to render decisions of the Security Council illegitimate by virtue of the absence of representatives of two great powers; fourth, to give the American government a free hand and give it an opportunity to commit more foolishness using a majority in the Security Council so that public opinion can see the true face of the American government.

I believe that we have achieved all of these goals.

Following our withdrawal from the Security Council, America became entangled in a military intervention in Korea and is now squandering its military prestige and moral authority. Few honest people can now doubt that America is now acting as an aggressor and tyrant in Korea and that it is not as militarily powerful as it claims to be. In addition, it is clear that the United States of America is presently distracted from Europe in the Far East. Does it not give us an advantage in the global balance of power? It undoubtedly does.

Let us suppose that American government continues to be tied down in the Far East and also pulls China into the struggle for the freedom of Korea and its own independence. What might come of this?

First, America, just like any other country, cannot cope with China, a country with such large armed forces at the ready. It follows that America would overextend itself in this struggle. Second, having overextended itself in this matter, America would be incapable of a third world war in the near future. Therefore, a third world war would be postponed for an indeterminate period, which would provide the time necessary to strengthen socialism in Europe, not to mention that the struggle between America and China would revolutionize the entire Far East. Does all this not give us an advantage from the perspective of the global balance of power? It unquestionably does.

As you can see, the question of whether or not the Soviet Union participates in the Security Council is not as simple as it might appear at first glance.

By virtue of all this, we cannot say that “the democratic camp has no need to leave the Security Council.” Whether we leave or stay depends on the circumstances. We might leave the Security Council again and come back once again, depending on the international situation.

One might ask why we have now returned to the Security Council. We have returned to continue exposing the aggressive policy of the American government and to prevent it from using the flag of the Security Council as a smokescreen for its aggression. Now that America has become aggressively involved in Korea, it will be very easy to achieve this goal while in the Security Council. I think that this is clear and needs no further explanation.

FILIPPOV [Stalin] ”

When we disregard those diplomatic languages in this telegram, we can find Stalin has planned and welcomed the US’s involvement in the Korea War. Then after we combined with other historic events recorded in different sources, we can have clearer understanding of Stalin’s true intention.

Before the Korean War, both the US and USSR were at the stage of confrontation and cooperation at the same time. They were reluctant to escalate the confrontation to a new world war. That was the reason why North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung had pleaded to Stalin to allow him liberate the South from time to time after the end of the WWII, even Kim proved he had support promise from Mao Zedong Stalin turned his request down without any mercy. Stalin knew just like in 1948 he ordered the blockade of West Berlin after the western allies decided to launch the new mark as to promote the Marshall Plan, forced the western allies to air-drop materials maintaining the daily operation of West Berlin; if he allowed Kim to invade the South, there was no way the western allies would not intervene .

But the following major historic events changed Stalin’s minds. After the CCP toppled the KMT government and established the PRC in 1949, Mao Zedong led a huge delegation to Moscow in Dec 1949, not only to pledge allegiance to the Communism camp, but also to conclude the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance. Although Mao was a communist, he was a nationalist first. Mao was intentioanlly neglected and idled in Moscow for several months since he insistedChinese Eastern Railway, Port Dalian and Arthur which used to be occupied by the USSR should be taken back by the PRC. At last, Stalin had to make compromises and agreed these issues be settled under the treaty concluded in Feb 1950 as he did not want to be blamed for kidnapping Mao(as Mao threatened he would not return to China if the treaty had not been concluded).

Without the CER and two important ports, the USSR’s sphere influence in Eastnorthern Asia had been severely weakened and it lost the vital convenient access to the Pacific. As a nationalist himself too, Stalin always put the USSR’s interests above everything, so he had to find alternatives to maintain the USSR’s concessions. Therefore it was no surprise in Jan 1950 when Stalin realized the loss of former priviledges in China was inevitable, he began to show good will on Kim. Stalin not only accepted Kim in Moscow without Mao’s knowledge, but also granted massive aid of fund, weapon and military advisors to Kim, all of which were transported via sea route intentionally to avoid the continental railway which had to cross Chinese territories and would definitely raised the CCP’s concerns. As a political master, Stalin had full understanding of human natures of his communist comrades. He was sure once Kim had launched the attack, there was no way to stop Kim from trying to conquer the whole peninsula, which would surely result in the western allies’ intervention. Then with the western intervention, Kim was destined to be defeated as the USSR would not engage in the war itself(after the war broke out, the USSR retreated its military advisors immediately). Due to its traditional relationship and Korea’s strategic position to it, China was facing the dilemma to join the war or not. If China didn’t join the war, Stalin could require the CCP to allow Kim establishing an exiled government in China, which was both rational and justified. Then as Kim was Stalin’s de facto puppet, it gave the USSR a very good excuse to intervene in Chinese affair and regain its privileges. If China joined the war, according to the supplementary agreement to the Sino-Soviet Treaty which was signed under the insistence of Stalin, once there was any war or war threat in the Far East Region, the USSR was entitled to use the CER freely. Furthermore, due to its poor infracstructure and industry productivity when facing the US, the most powerful country in the world, China should have to seek the USSR’s aids, which would grant the USSR advantageous position to ask for more privileges. And the development of history did prove Stalin was right. After China joined the Korean War, in 1952 when it was time China and the USSR discuss the transfer of Port Arthur according to the Treaty, Mao sent Zhou Enlai to Moscow and Zhou claimed China would not take back Port Arthur as China had no navy.Once the USSR navy retreated, there was no one can defend the port, therefore the USSR navy had to stay.

Therefore, we can draw the conclusion the escalation of the Korean War was for the best interest of the USSR ,as it was very likely China had to join the war, which was vital to maintain the USSR’s geopolitical influence and privileges in Far East region.

Now we can get better understanding of Stalins’ telegram to his Czech comrades:

1)Stalin not only predicted but actually desired US intervention in the Korean War;

2)Stalin viewed the Korean War positively, explaining to Gottwald with satisfaction . which made the USSR’s abnormal action in voting more rational and understandable.

However, this is a geopolitics lesson should have been learned without the cost of millions of lives.