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Tuva’s Accession to the USSR: Alternative opinions

Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy. 2017;0(4) DOI 10.25178/nit.2017.4.3


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Journal Title: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

ISSN: 2079-8482 (Online)

Publisher: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races

Country of publisher: Russian Federation

Language of fulltext: Russian

Full-text formats available: PDF



Ivanna V. Otroshenko (Институт востоковедения им. А. Крымского Национальной академии наук Украины)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 18 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Tuva’s accession to the USSR in 1944 was the Soviet Union’s last large territorial acquisition. Many details of this extraordinary event are still unknown. Many questions concerning its reasons, initiators and circumstances still remain unanswered. Russian researchers highlight the predictability of the event, although they note the accession was violating international norms – e.g., in the absence of a referendum. This article looks at some of the trends in historiographic discussion of the accession process in Russia and elsewhere. Western scholars focus on many of the nuances. It is not uncommon to read that in 1944 Tuva was annexed by the USSR. Analogies are drawn between the accession of Tuva and the Baltic states. The question Western authors poise is why the USSR focused on Tuva when other claimants for accession were also available, such as Mongolian People’s Republic and Xinjiang. The most detailed and concise argument on why Tuva acceded to the USSR was developed by British Sovietologist W. Kolarz in the 1950s. The author of this article held that, unlike the prevalent opinion, the accession of Tuva was not predetermined, and the Soviet policy towards its ex-protectorate did evolve. Over a number of years, several options had been discussed, but the final outcome was informed by historical memory. By mid-20th century, Stalinist foreign policy tended to drift towards imperial priorities of the past: in 1914, Tuva became an imperial protectorate, while the Outer Mongolia and Xinjiang were seen as buffer territories along the Russian border. Tuva was not such a buffer: it was located between the USSR and the Moscow-friendly Mongolian People's Republic. The discovery of uranium deposits in the region could have been seen by the Soviet leadership as another argument in favor of accepting Tuva as a member of the USSR. The proliferation of versions of Tuva’s accession to the Soviet Union is in itself a proof of how little we know so far about this significant historical event.