Can we characterize the conflict between Yugoslavia and the Cominform as a war?

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,394
Republika Srpska
#1
1948 saw the Tito-Stalin split which led to Yugoslavia being branded as a country run by traitors to Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism. Tensions between Yugoslavia and the Eastern Bloc continued until Stalin's death but they never turned into a war...or did they? While it is true that Stalin never launched a full-scale invasion of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav-Cominform conflict had some elements of a war.

1. Numerous armed clashes between the two sides. There were 937 clashes in 1950, 1517 in 1951, 2390 in 1952. Over a 100 Yugoslav citizens and soldiers lost their lives in these clashes. Yugoslav air space was also frequently violated.

2. The Soviet bloc sent saboteurs into Yugoslavia. Not spies, but saboteurs that were supposed to cripple Yugoslavia from the inside.

3. The Soviet bloc actively threatened Yugoslav sovereignty and Yugoslav borders. Communist Albania sent men to Albanian-inhabited regions of Yugoslavia to spread anti-Yugoslav sentiment while Hungary put forward its claims on parts of Vojvodina.

4. Yugoslavs were treated as enemy aliens in the Soviet bloc. They were often imprisoned and/or deported (for example in Romania). Yugoslav diplomatic staff were prevented from doing their duty and their immunity was violated. Organizations led by Yugoslav minorities in Soviet countries were shut down and Yugoslav minorities were sometimes put into special restricted zones. For her part, Yugoslavia imprisoned many Russians that lived in Yugoslavia, imposed restrictions of anything remotely Russian such as language, literature, things like that.

There were other things, like the propaganda war between the two sides (seriously, if you read Soviet propaganda from the time you would think that Yugoslavia was a superpower. It apparently had thousands of agents in multiple Communist countries and those agents were a part of a vast conspiracy designed to weaken Communism), leaflet droppings etc.

So, can we say this was an actual small-scale war rather than merely a tense situation that could potentially turn into a war?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,060
SoCal
#3
It was a low-level war. Perhaps comparable to what is going on between Israel/US and Iran over the last 20 years. After all, Israel did engage in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.
 

Valens

Ad Honorem
Feb 2014
8,303
Colonia Valensiana
#5
There were border clashes in which people were killed on both sides, though far more on the Yugoslav side. The Yugoslav regime seriously prepared the country for a Soviet invasion, hence they ordered certain factories to be moved from vulnerable areas to the interior of the country. The question is whether the Soviets really planned an invasion, or their strategy was to put constant pressure on Tito and bully the regime into submission. On the other hand, such a strategy would inevitably push Yugoslavia into Western arms (which it did, to a great extent) and Stalin would not risk a confrontation with the US in Europe as the SU, although at the peak of its international reputation following WWII victory, was ravaged by war and only began to recover.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,060
SoCal
#6
There were border clashes in which people were killed on both sides, though far more on the Yugoslav side. The Yugoslav regime seriously prepared the country for a Soviet invasion, hence they ordered certain factories to be moved from vulnerable areas to the interior of the country. The question is whether the Soviets really planned an invasion, or their strategy was to put constant pressure on Tito and bully the regime into submission. On the other hand, such a strategy would inevitably push Yugoslavia into Western arms (which it did, to a great extent) and Stalin would not risk a confrontation with the US in Europe as the SU, although at the peak of its international reputation following WWII victory, was ravaged by war and only began to recover.
Would the US have actually been willing to fight on behalf of Yugoslavia?
 

Valens

Ad Honorem
Feb 2014
8,303
Colonia Valensiana
#7
Would the US have actually been willing to fight on behalf of Yugoslavia?
Why would they? Yugoslavia wasn't a member of NATO, the US had no obligations towards the country. More likely they'd send weapons to bolster the resistance, but a full-scale war was unlikely, as both sides were wary of each other. Stalin was displeased with Tito's support to the Greek partisans and as well as his very bold regional policy (negotiations with Bulgaria for example, to enter the Yugoslav federation) which he viewed with suspicion.
 
Jul 2017
157
Europe
#9
The only thing Stalin was trying to do in Yugoslavia was to assassinate Tito and eventually install a Moscow-friendly government in Yugoslavia. Tito reportedly had written a letter to Stallin asking him to stop sending people to kill him. “Stop sending these people to try and kill me. If I send one man to Moscow, I wouldn’t have to send another one”.

The hostility between Yugoslavia and USSR stopped after Nikita Khrushchev came to power. We could say that at the time, Yugoslavia had won “the war”. My opinion is that U.S.A would get involved had USSR tried to invade Yugoslavia and soviets knew that. Yugoslavia, being the only Socialist non-aligned country and the only one in the region that wasn’t behind The Iron Curtain, was very important for both the U.S. and Western Europe. They would not allow USSR to invade Yugoslavia in any way. Stalin knew this and he was only flexing muscles, but he knew exactly how far he could go.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,394
Republika Srpska
#10
The hostility between Yugoslavia and USSR stopped after Nikita Khrushchev came to power.
For a bit yes. But very soon hostile relations were resumed, though never got quite as bad as during the 1948-53 period.