Having come to power, the Bolsheviks adopted the Decree on Peace, which was addressed simultaneously to the governments and peoples of the warring countries. The Soviet government announced the abolition of secret diplomacy and the publication of all secret treaties. The belligerent countries were asked to conclude a re-peace and consider the terms of a peace treaty. The price for the withdrawal of Russia from the war was the Brest Peace Treaty, through which the country lost vast territories, sources of oil, most mines and a significant number of industrial enterprises. On August 27, 1918, a Russian-German financial agreement was signed in Berlin, which was an addition to the Brest Peace Treaty. Russia pledged to pay Germany in various forms a contribution of 6 billion marks.
In the West, in the early years of the revolution, sympathies for Soviet Russia were widely spread both among the workers and among some intellectuals. In France, in 1919, a movement emerged, which soon assumed an international character and united in its ranks such famous figures as G. Wells, B. Shaw, A. France, A. Barbusse, and others. In 1920 they published the manifesto "Light from the abyss ", in which they condemned the imperialist war and noted the international importance of the October revolution.
However, military intervention and economic blockade took place at the official, governmental level in relation to Soviet Russia. Government circles in France, England and the United States adhered to the "Russian question" of the so-called "theory of contrast." Its meaning was that the territories controlled by the Soviet authorities were subjected to a consistent economic blockade. The areas occupied by the White Guard troops were provided with widely advertised assistance. As a "compensation", raw materials were exported from there.
During 1919, the Entente naval forces blocked the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, taking dominion over the Baltic. As a result, even neutral countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway) were forced to interrupt any official relations with Soviet Russia. The naval blockade of the northern ports began in 1918.
It was not until the autumn of 1919, under the influence of the victories of the Red Army on the fronts of the civil war, that the Western powers began to rethink the tactics in the “Russian question”. The formal act in this regard was the decision of the Supreme Council of the Entente of January 16, 1920 to resume trade with the "Russian people" through cooperatives.
The Soviet leadership in the implementation of its foreign policy took into account the fact that military intervention in Russia did not enjoy wide public support in Western Europe and the United States. On the one hand, agitating their supporters abroad for the “world revolution” and supporting them morally and materially, on the other hand, the Bolshevik leaders continuously sought to overcome their diplomatic isolation.
On May 27, 1919, diplomatic relations were established with Afghanistan, which proclaimed its independence from Great Britain. From the second half of 1919, Soviet Russia conducted peace negotiations with the Baltic states, which ended with the signing of an agreement with Estonia in Yuryev (Tartu) on February 2, 1920, which was of fundamental importance for Moscow: Estonia became for the RSFSR not only a peculiar "a window to Euro-poo", but also ceased to be a springboard for foreign military intervention.
The articles of the peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Estonia consolidated "unconditionally non-dependence and independence of the Estonian state." Both sides mutually refused to repay their military expenses, that is, the state costs of warfare. Russia not only did not insist on the transfer to it of movable and immovable property (ships, cargo, ports, etc.), but also pledged to pay Estonia 15 million rubles in gold, as well as return to it libraries, archives and "other items that have for Estonia scientific or historical value. " At that moment, the Soviet government even made a number of territorial concessions, which in recent years became a kind of stumbling block in relations between the two countries.
On February 4, 1920, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR ratified this treaty. On February 13 a similar step was taken by the Constituent Assembly of the Estonian Democratic Republic. The exchange of instruments of ratification took place in Moscow on March 30, 1920. Similar treaties were concluded by Russia with Lithuania, Latvia, and Finland, respectively, on June 12, August 11, and October 14, 1920.
The most sober-minded heads in the West began to come out more resolutely in favor of improving relations with the Soviets. English philosopher and social activist Bertrand Russell, who visited our country in 1920, directly stated that "if we continue to deny the Bolsheviks peace and commerce, I think they will not die anyway. Russia will endure any hardships in the future, "Power them in the past. Russians are accustomed to poverty like no other Western nation; they can live and work in conditions that we would find unbearable."
In early 1921, Soviet diplomacy achieved major successes in the East, signing agreements on good neighborliness with Persia (Iran) on February 26 and Afghanistan on February 28. Both treaties were concluded on the basis of equality with mutual consideration of interests.
With the transition to NEP and the weakening of hopes for a “world revolution”, the question of the normalization of trade and diplomatic relations with Western countries came to the forefront of Soviet foreign policy.
The Entente, which is interested in returning the tsarist government’s debts and establishing trade relations with our country on new terms, also began to show some flexibility in relations with Russia. Thus, on March 16, 1921, L. B. Krasin signed a trade agreement between the RSFSR and Great Britain, which in essence became a trade and political agreement between the two countries. British Prime Minister Lloyd George, speaking in parliament on the day of the signing of the treaty, stressed that he actually means recognition of the Soviet government by England. V.I. Lenin at that moment said that the treaty has a "world significance." The agreement signed with Britain was the first de facto recognition of the Soviet government.
Similar to the Anglo-Soviet agreement was the Soviet-German agreement of May 6, 1921, which meant the legalization of German-Soviet economic relations. This treaty has already gone beyond the de facto recognition of the Soviets, approaching in its spirit to the de jure recognition of Russia.
Since 1921, the first contacts of the Soviet leadership with the United States were noted (although at the governmental level relations between the two countries were established much later). In the early 20s. a catastrophic drought struck the "producing" provinces of the Volga region, which led to the conclusion in 1921 of an agreement with the American Administration of Help (APA) for receiving aid from starvation from abroad.
By the end of the year, 2380 thousand pounds of food were collected there, including 1600 thousand pounds of grain (180 thousand pounds of grain and 600 thousand pounds of other food were collected for these needs within the country), much of which was distributed by the APA - the only official subsidized organization in this area. According to L. Kamenev, thanks to the help of the American government, the APA was able to carry out systematic work to provide assistance on a large scale and surpass everything that was done by other organizations.
At the end of October 1921, the Soviet government proposed to convene a peace conference to settle mutual claims and work out a peace treaty between Russia and the Western states. The conference began its work in Genoa on April 10, 1922. The Soviet delegation was headed by GV Chicherin, people's commissar of foreign affairs of the RSFSR. A total of 29 countries participated in the conference. Western states handed the so-called London memorandum of experts to the Soviet side, which put forward demands for the return to foreign owners of nationalized enterprises and the payment of the debts of the tsarist and Provisional Government.
However, due to the tough position of the parties, it was not possible to reach an agreement between Russia and the creditor countries. At the same time, the Soviet delegation achieved a great foreign policy success at the conference, signing unexpectedly for the Entente on April 16, 1922, on the outskirts of Genoa Rapallo, a bilateral treaty with Germany. Both governments mutually refused to compensate for military and non-military losses incurred during the years of war. Germany also refused the requirement to return the nationalized industry to the former German proprietors, provided that Russia does not satisfy the similar demands of other states. Diplomatic and consular relations were resumed between the two countries, and the principle of most favored treatment in trade and economic relations was established.
During the work of the Genoa Conference, the Soviet delegation on April 20, 1922, put forward a memorandum in which it noted that, despite the intervention and blockade of the Allied Powers, which caused Russia "losses far exceeding the possible claims to it by foreigners who had suffered from Russian revolution ", the government of the RSFSR is ready to restore business relations with foreign capital and recognize its losses. In this case, the condition of "respect for reciprocity" should have been indispensable.
In general, the Soviet foreign policy of the early 20s. wore a dual character. B. Russell remarked this, stressing that the Bolsheviks were "practical people, seeking to establish trade with the West, to gradually create a more or less normal state." At the same time, one of the most important program provisions of the party was the desire to push the revolution to the West, which was considered the only way to achieve genuine peace.