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Spain: Spain and the Soviet Union
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Relations > Spain and the Soviet Union

SPAIN AND THE SOVIET UNION


Diplomatic relations between Spain and the Soviet Union were not formally reestablished until February 1977, although there had been extensive trade and cultural contacts between the two nations for decades, and Spain had already established diplomatic relations with the other Warsaw Pact states. This long delay was due in part to Franco's strong anticommunist feelings, but more particularly to his bitterness toward the Soviet Union for its support of the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. Anti-Soviet sentiment was not limited to the Francoists in the years following that devastating upheaval. Because of the attempts of the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, to destroy leftist elements within Spain that were independent of Moscow, anti-Francoists as well as Franco's supporters were deeply distrustful of Moscow.

Spain's relations with the Soviet Union were also significantly affected by its relations with the United States. From the point of view of the Soviet Union, it was vital to maintain a strong position in the Mediterranean in order to guard the gateway to the Black Sea and to assure access to the Atlantic Ocean through the Strait of Gibraltar. At the same time, the United States, wary of Soviet expansionist aims, had sought to protect this vital region by the establishment of United States bases on Spanish soil. The opposition that subsequently developed within Spain to the continued presence of United States forces there received encouragement from the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, when Moscow delivered a warning to Madrid, referring to the "negative consequences" that could ensue if Spain joined NATO, Spain's foreign minister curtly remonstrated with the Soviet Union for attempting to interfere in Spain's internal affairs.

Spanish public opinion has generally not shared United States fears of a serious Soviet military threat. Spaniards have favored increasing trade with the Soviet Union, and they have welcomed Moscow's support of Spain's demand for the "decolonization" of Gibraltar. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, however, Spain moved toward an increasingly independent stance, and this applied to its relations with the Soviet Union as well as with the United States. Such independence also was reflected in the efforts of the PCE to reduce its ties to Moscow. In the mid-1980s, Spain's major difficulty with regard to the Soviet Union concerned the extensive espionage activities that had been mounted from the large Soviet embassy installed after Franco's death and that had led to the expulsion of several Soviet diplomats.

Data as of December 1988




Last Updated: December 1988


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Spain was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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