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Learning from History:

The Finnish-Soviet War's Message to Redefine the United Nations

· WinterWarLegacy,UNReformNow,FinnishSovietConflict,GlobalDiplomacyOverhaul,RethinkingTheUN


The Soviet-Finnish War of 1939, known as the Winter War, and the subsequent expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations, represent pivotal moments in 20th-century international relations. The conflict originated in the aggressive Soviet foreign policy under Stalin, with Finland's strategic importance leading to its invasion by the Soviet Union. Despite being outmatched, Finnish forces, employing guerrilla tactics, managed to inflict significant damage on the Soviet military. This unexpected resistance led to international support for Finland and global condemnation of the Soviet Union, culminating in its expulsion from the League of Nations.

The war impacted both nations profoundly. Finland endured territorial losses but maintained its sovereignty, influencing its later neutrality policy. For the Soviet Union, the war exposed military weaknesses and influenced European perceptions, leading to significant internal military reforms. The conflict also affected broader World War II dynamics, particularly influencing Nazi Germany's strategy.

In the League of Nations, the Soviet Union's expulsion was a landmark decision, reflecting the challenges international organizations face in enforcing peace against powerful states. The decision was a result of intense diplomatic efforts and legal debates, reflecting diverse geopolitical interests.

The article also addresses contemporary issues, notably the potential expulsion of Russia and China from the United Nations and the theoretical creation of a new international body. The complex geopolitical landscape involving conflicts in Ukraine, Venezuela, and the Middle East highlights Russia's aggressive foreign policy and its implications for global stability. The discussion extends to the legal and diplomatic challenges of expelling a permanent member from the United Nations, considering the unique veto power held by countries like Russia and China in the Security Council.

Historically, the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations influenced its strategy in the formation of the United Nations. The Soviet Union secured a permanent seat with veto power in the UN Security Council, marking a shift in its global influence. This history is crucial for understanding the current dynamics within the United Nations, especially considering the challenges in expelling or reforming the membership of powerful nations within such international bodies.

The discussion about potentially establishing a new United Nations organization stems from the challenges of addressing authoritarian behaviors by powerful states within the existing UN framework. This alternative approach suggests creating a new organization with revised structures and principles, capable of more robustly promoting international peace, human rights, and cooperative governance. However, this idea faces significant legal, logistical, and political challenges, requiring broad international consensus.

In conclusion, the Soviet-Finnish War and the League of Nations' handling of the Soviet aggression offer critical insights into the complexities of international law and diplomacy. They underscore the limitations of international organizations in enforcing resolutions against powerful states and the need for effective mechanisms in global governance. The discussion on Russia and China's potential expulsion from the UN, or the creation of a new international body, reflects ongoing challenges in maintaining global peace and stability in the face of powerful geopolitical actors.

Soviet-Finnish War of 1939 and the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations is a significant endeavor that requires deep research and analysis.

Introduction: The Soviet-Finnish War of 1939 and the Expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations

  • Overview of the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939.
  • Context of international relations in the late 1930s.
  • Brief introduction to the League of Nations and its principles.

Part I. The Soviet-Finnish War of 1939 as an Aggressive War

1. Background and Prelude to War

  • The geopolitical situation in Europe in the 1930s.
  • Soviet foreign policy objectives and security concerns.
  • The strategic importance of Finland to the Soviet Union.

2.Outbreak of the War

  • Detailed account of the events leading to the outbreak of hostilities.
  • Soviet military strategies and Finnish resistance.
  • International response to the Soviet invasion.

3. Characteristics of an Aggressive War

  • Analysis of the Soviet Union's actions against international law norms.
  • Comparison with other historical instances of aggression.

4. Impact and Consequences

  • The war's impact on Finland, the Soviet Union, and broader European politics.
  • Long-term consequences for Finnish national identity and policy.

Part 2: The Expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations

  1. The League of Nations and Its Charter
  • Overview of the League of Nations: formation, objectives, and principles.
  • Examination of the relevant articles of the League's Covenant (focus on Article 16).

2. The Process of Expulsion

  • Detailed narrative of the League's response to the Soviet invasion of Finland.
  • Discussions, debates, and diplomatic activities within the League.
  • Specific countries' stances and their influences on the decision.

3. Voting Mechanics and Outcomes

  • In-depth look at the voting process and the countries involved.
  • Analysis of the vote count and the role of new members in the decision.

4. International and Historical Significance

  • The expulsion's significance in international law and diplomatic history.
  • Comparison with other instances of expulsion or suspension from international bodies.

5. Sources and References

Part 3: The Potential Expulsion of Russia and China from the United Nations and Security Council


  • Overview of the current geopolitical context.
  • Brief introduction to the United Nations and its Security Council.

Part 1: The Context and Grounds for Potential Expulsion

  1. Geopolitical Tensions and Conflicts
  • Overview of recent conflicts involving Russia and China.
  • International responses and resolutions.

2. Legal Basis for Expulsion or Suspension

  • Examination of relevant articles of the UN Charter: Article 6 for expulsion, Article 5 for suspension.
  • Analysis of how these articles could theoretically apply to Russia and China.

3. Diplomatic and Legal Challenges

  • The role and influence of Russia and China in the Security Council.
  • Challenges posed by their veto power and political influence.

Part 2: Historical Precedents and Comparative Analysis

4. Historical Instances of Expulsion or Suspension

  • Case studies of past expulsions or suspensions from international bodies.
  • Analysis of the League of Nations’ expulsion of the Soviet Union for comparison.

5. The Role of the Security Council and the Veto Power

  • In-depth analysis of the Security Council's structure and decision-making process.
  • The impact of veto power on the dynamics of international decision-making.

Part 3: Theoretical and Practical Implications

6. Legal and Diplomatic Scenarios

  • Exploration of theoretical scenarios for the expulsion or suspension of Russia and China.
  • Analysis of legal hurdles and the likelihood of these scenarios.

7. Global Impact and Consequences

  • Potential geopolitical ramifications of such actions.
  • The future of international cooperation and the UN's role in global governance.


  • Summarizing the complexities and implications of expelling or suspending major powers from the UN and its Security Council.
  • Reflecting on the challenges of maintaining international peace and security in the current geopolitical climate.


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Introduction: The Soviet-Finnish War of 1939 and the Expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations

The late 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland and the subsequent international response mark a significant moment in the history of international relations and law. This article examines the Soviet-Finnish War's classification as an aggressive war and the historical context, legal grounds, and implications of the Soviet Union’s expulsion from the League of Nations.

Part 1: The Soviet-Finnish War of 1939 as an Aggressive War

Background and Prelude to War

In the 1930s, Europe's geopolitical situation was increasingly tense and complex, heavily influenced by the rise of authoritarian regimes and the shifting alliances that preceded World War II. This era set the stage for significant events, including the strained relations between the Soviet Union and Finland, which are crucial to understanding the context of the Soviet-Finnish War that would later unfold.

The Geopolitical Situation in Europe in the 1930s

The 1930s in Europe were characterized by a fragile peace marred by the rise of totalitarian regimes, most notably in Germany and Italy. The aftermath of World War I, with its harsh reparations and territorial adjustments, had left many nations discontented and unstable. The democratic governments in Britain and France, preoccupied with internal economic challenges and the trauma of the Great War, adopted policies of appeasement towards the aggressive moves of these regimes, hoping to avoid another large-scale conflict.

Soviet Foreign Policy Objectives and Security Concerns

For the Soviet Union, led by Joseph Stalin, the primary foreign policy objective was to secure its western borders against potential threats. The trauma of the Russian Civil War and the subsequent interventions by Western powers had left a deep-seated paranoia about encirclement and invasion. Stalin's regime was also ideologically driven, seeking to spread communism, but often these ideological goals were secondary to pragmatic considerations of security and territorial integrity.

The Soviet Union's foreign policy in the 1930s was thus a mix of defensive posturing and opportunistic expansion. The signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany in 1939, which secretly divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, was a prime example of this pragmatic approach, albeit one that would have far-reaching consequences.

The Strategic Importance of Finland to the Soviet Union

Finland held significant strategic importance for the Soviet Union. Geographically, Finland bordered the Soviet Union’s second-largest city, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and its proximity posed a potential threat, particularly in the context of rising tensions with Nazi Germany. The Soviet leadership was concerned that Finland could be used as a base by hostile powers to launch attacks against the Soviet Union, especially given the historical context of foreign intervention following the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Additionally, control over parts of Finnish territory, particularly the Karelian Isthmus, was seen as crucial for the defense of Leningrad. The Soviet Union was keen to establish a buffer zone to protect its key industrial and population centers. This strategic calculus underpinned the Soviet Union's approach to Finland in the late 1930s, driving their foreign policy decisions in the region.

Understanding the intricate geopolitical dynamics of the 1930s, the quasi defensive and strategic motivations behind Soviet foreign policy, and the particular importance of Finland in this context is essential to grasp the precursors to the Soviet-Finnish War. These elements collectively contributed to a precarious and tense situation in Northern Europe, setting the stage for the subsequent conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland, and subsequently, the totalitarian Stalin regime and the Western World.


  • Kennedy, David. The Realities Behind Diplomacy: Background Influences on British External Policy, 1865–1980. London: Allen & Unwin, 1981.
  • Trotter, William R. A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2000.

The Winter War: Outbreak and Campaigns

The Soviet-Finnish War, known as the Winter War, which began in 1939, was a significant conflict that garnered considerable international attention. The dynamics of the war, as well as the strategies employed by both the Soviet military and Finnish resistance, were complex and reveal much about the military capabilities and geopolitical considerations of the time.

Outbreak of the Soviet-Finnish War

The Winter War commenced on November 30, 1939, following a period of escalating tensions and failed negotiations between the Soviet Union and Finland. The immediate cause of the war was the Soviet Union's demand for territorial concessions and the establishment of a military base on Finnish soil, ostensibly for the protection of Leningrad. Finland, valuing its sovereignty and territorial integrity, rejected these demands.

The Soviet Union, under the guise of a border incident at Mainila, launched an invasion into Finland. This act was widely viewed as a pretext for the invasion, as the Soviet Union sought to secure strategic territories and assert its influence in the Baltic region.

Soviet Military Strategies and Finnish Resistance

The Soviet military strategy was characterized by a reliance on overwhelming force and numbers. The Red Army expected a swift victory, underestimating the challenges posed by the Finnish terrain and the resolve of the Finnish forces. The Finns, led by Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, employed guerrilla tactics, taking advantage of the winter conditions and their intimate knowledge of the landscape. The Finnish defense was centered around the concept of 'Motti' tactics, where small, mobile units would isolate and attack larger Soviet forces, effectively using the harsh winter to their advantage.

The initial phase of the war saw significant Finnish success, as they repelled the poorly equipped and underprepared Soviet troops. The Soviet Union's reliance on large, cumbersome units proved disadvantageous in the dense forests and snowy conditions of Finland.

International Response to the Soviet Invasion

The Soviet invasion of Finland was met with widespread international condemnation. The League of Nations deemed the Soviet Union the aggressor and expelled it from the organization. There was a significant outpouring of sympathy and support for Finland from various countries, with volunteers and material aid being sent to assist the Finnish war effort.

The international response was marked by a clear distinction between public opinion, which largely favored the Finnish cause, and the diplomatic actions of various governments, which were more cautious and influenced by broader geopolitical considerations, especially given the context of the impending Second World War.

The Winter War stands as a testament to the Finnish resilience and strategic ingenuity in the face of a vastly larger adversary. It also highlights the limitations of the Soviet military at the time, which would later undergo significant reforms. The international response to the conflict underscored the complexities of the geopolitical landscape on the eve of World War II, where moral clarity often clashed with strategic interests. The events leading up to and during the Winter War are essential in understanding the broader context of European politics and military strategies of the era.


  • Trotter, William R. A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1991.
  • Edwards, Robert. White Death: Russia’s War on Finland 1939-40. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006.

International Reactions and Support for Finland. Characteristics of an Aggressive War and the Soviet Union's Actions.

1. Unprovoked Attack

  • The Soviet Union's invasion of Finland in 1939 was an unprovoked attack, as Finland had not engaged in any hostile actions towards the Soviet Union.

2. Violation of International Treaties

  • The Soviet Union's actions breached the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, which it was a signatory to. This pact, formally known as the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, condemns war for the solution of international controversies, as stated in its Article I.

3. Disregard for Diplomatic Solutions

  • An aggressive war typically sidelines diplomatic channels, which was evident in the Soviet Union's approach to Finland, where diplomatic negotiations were not effectively pursued.

4. Global Condemnation

  • The League of Nations expelled the Soviet Union for its aggression against Finland, reflecting broad international denouncement, as noted in the League of Nations Official Journal (20th Year, No. 2, February 1939).

5. Impact on Civilian Population

  • The Soviet-Finnish War led to significant civilian suffering in Finland, a common consequence of aggressive military actions.

Soviet Union's Actions Against International Law Norms.

Let's examine the Soviet Union's Actions Against International Law Norms, focusing on the specific treaties and articles of these treaties that were breached by the Soviet Union during its invasion of Finland in 1939:

Breach of the Kellogg-Briand Pact

  • The Soviet attack on Finland directly violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact’s commitment to "renounce war as an instrument of national policy," as outlined in the Pact's Article I.

Violation of the League of Nations Covenant

  • The Soviet Union's actions were contrary to the Covenant of the League of Nations, particularly Article 12, which called for member states to resolve disputes through arbitration and not war.

Disregard for Sovereignty

  • The invasion violated the principle of national sovereignty, which is central to international law as affirmed in various international treaties and declarations.


The Soviet Union's invasion of Finland in 1939 is a clear example of an aggressive war, marked by an unprovoked attack, violation of key international law norms, and disregard for diplomatic solutions. The global condemnation of this act and its alignment with the characteristics of historical aggressive wars highlight the importance of adhering to international law to prevent aggression and maintain global peace.


  • Rentola, Kimmo. Neighbours at War: Historical Perspectives on Finland’s Relations with Russia, 1808–1944. Helsinki: SKS Finnish Literature Society, 2013.
  • Trotter, William R. A Frozen Hell.

Impact and Consequences

The Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland, stretching from November 1939 to March 1940, had significant consequences not only for the two nations directly involved but also for the broader context of World War II. One of the key elements of this conflict was the unexpected and staunch Finnish resistance, which played a pivotal role in shaping subsequent military and political strategies, especially those of Nazi Germany.

Impact on Finland and the Soviet Union

The Finnish defense, though heavily outnumbered and outgunned, managed to delay the Soviet advance significantly. This resistance, characterized by innovative tactics and a deep understanding of the local terrain, inflicted heavier casualties on the Soviet forces than anticipated. The Moscow Peace Treaty, signed in March 1940, marked the end of hostilities, resulting in territorial concessions from Finland but maintaining its sovereignty. This outcome was a testament to Finland's resilience and tactical proficiency under extreme pressure.

Influence on Nazi Germany’s Military Strategy

The Winter War had a profound impact on Nazi Germany's perception of the Soviet Union's military capabilities. Observing the difficulties faced by the Soviet army in subduing a smaller neighbor, Nazi leadership, particularly Adolf Hitler, may have underestimated the overall military capacity of the Soviet Union. This miscalculation played a part in Germany's decision to launch Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941.

Shifting Dynamics of World War II

The war's outcome also had broader implications for the dynamics of World War II. The Soviet Union's initial setbacks showcased vulnerabilities that were closely analyzed by other major powers. Furthermore, the conflict exposed the limitations of the Soviet military, leading to significant reforms and reorganization within the Red Army, which would later prove crucial in the USSR's efforts against Nazi Germany.

The Winter War, as detailed in Robert Edwards' "White Death: Russia’s War on Finland 1939-40," not only highlights the David vs. Goliath nature of Finland's struggle against Soviet aggression but also underscores the larger strategic implications of this conflict on World War II. The Finnish resistance, while resulting in significant losses and territorial concessions, managed to maintain national sovereignty and influence the strategic calculations of the major powers, particularly Nazi Germany. This war serves as a poignant example of how smaller conflicts can have far-reaching effects on global events.


  • Edwards, Robert. White Death: Russia’s War on Finland 1939-40. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006.

Impact on Finnish National Identity and Policy

The Finnish resistance against the Soviet invasion became a defining moment in the formation of modern Finnish national identity. Despite being significantly outnumbered and outgunned, the Finnish army's tenacity in the face of a formidable adversary fostered a sense of national pride and unity. This period of conflict is often viewed as a testament to the Finnish spirit of 'sisu' – a unique concept combining perseverance, bravery, and resilience.

After the war, Finland had to navigate a complex geopolitical landscape. The peace treaty signed in Moscow led to significant territorial losses for Finland. This outcome, while preserving Finland's sovereignty, forced the country to reassess its foreign and defense policies. Finland's experience in the Winter War would later shape its approach to international relations, particularly its policies regarding neutrality and relations with both the Western bloc and the Soviet Union during the Cold War era.

Soviet Union's Strategic Posture and European Politics

For the Soviet Union, the Winter War exposed several weaknesses in the Red Army, particularly in terms of leadership and tactics. These shortcomings were noted by other European powers, influencing their perception of Soviet military strength. The war prompted a series of military reforms within the Soviet Union, which played a significant role in its subsequent engagements during World War II, especially against Nazi Germany.

The conflict also had implications for broader European politics. The Soviet Union's aggressive move against Finland was condemned internationally, leading to its expulsion from the League of Nations. This act of aggression contributed to the perception of the Soviet Union as a belligerent power in the eyes of many, affecting diplomatic relations and alliances leading up to and during World War II.

As detailed in Carl Van Dyke's "The Soviet Invasion of Finland, 1939-40," the Winter War was not just a regional conflict but a significant event with far-reaching implications. It highlighted the aggressive nature of Soviet foreign policy under Joseph Stalin and demonstrated the resilience and strategic ingenuity of the Finnish people. The war's aftermath influenced Finland's national identity, shaping its future policies and diplomatic stance. Moreover, it had lasting effects on the strategic dynamics of the Soviet Union and the political landscape of Europe, underscoring the interconnected nature of regional conflicts and global politics during this tumultuous period in history.

Further Reading:

  • Van Dyke, Carl. The Soviet Invasion of Finland, 1939-40. London: Frank Cass, 1997.

Part 2: The Expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations

The League of Nations and Its Charter

The League of Nations, established post-WWI, faced a major challenge with the Soviet invasion of Finland. The League's Covenant, especially Article 16, provided the legal basis for action against member states resorting to war. The League of Nations, as detailed in F. S. Northedge's "The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946," was a pivotal institution in the interwar period, aimed at maintaining peace and preventing the recurrence of a devastating world war. Established in the aftermath of World War I, the League represented the first significant attempt to create a global organization dedicated to the preservation of international peace and security.

Formation and Objectives

The League of Nations was formed in 1920, following the Paris Peace Conference. It was primarily envisioned by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson as part of his Fourteen Points, a blueprint for peace post-World War I. Although the United States eventually did not join, the League brought together numerous nations with the shared goal of fostering cooperation, resolving conflicts peacefully, and promoting collective security. Its primary objectives were to prevent war through collective security and disarmament and to settle international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.

Principles of the League of Nations

The League was grounded in several key principles, including the respect for the sovereignty of its member states, the commitment to collective security, and the use of diplomatic means to resolve conflicts. These principles were embodied in the Covenant of the League of Nations, which served as its foundational treaty.

The Covenant of the League of Nations

The Covenant set forth the rules and procedures for the functioning of the League. It outlined the mechanisms for cooperation among nations and established protocols for addressing international disputes and potential aggressions.

Article 16 of the Covenant

Article 16 was a crucial component of the Covenant, particularly concerning the League's response to acts of aggression. It stipulated that any member of the League resorting to war in disregard of its covenants would be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members. It mandated that in the event of such aggression, all other members would sever economic and financial relations with the aggressor state, effectively imposing economic sanctions. The article also provided for the support, including military assistance, to the country under aggression.

This article was significant as it attempted to deter acts of aggression through collective punishment and support mechanisms, reflecting the League's commitment to collective security. The application of Article 16 was tested in various instances, including the Italo-Ethiopian War and the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland, where the League faced challenges in enforcing its principles effectively.

In summary, as Northedge's analysis elucidates, the League of Nations, with its ambitious goals and principles, represented a monumental step in the evolution of international relations and law. Despite its limitations and the eventual failure to prevent the outbreak of World War II, the League's experience and the principles enshrined in its Covenant laid the groundwork for the establishment of the United Nations and continue to influence international diplomacy to this day.


  • Northedge, F. S. The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946. Leicester University Press, 1986.

The Process of Expulsion

The expulsion decision involved complex debates and legal interpretations, underscoring the difficulties of enforcing international law. In F. P. Walters' "A History of the League of Nations," the process of the Soviet Union's expulsion from the League following its invasion of Finland is examined in detail, providing insights into the complex dynamics within the League and the various stances of its member countries.

The League's Response to the Soviet Invasion of Finland

The Soviet invasion of Finland in November 1939 prompted an immediate and serious response from the League of Nations. The League, designed to maintain peace and resolve international disputes, was confronted with a clear act of aggression by one of its own members. This act was a direct challenge to the League's authority and the principles enshrined in its Covenant.

Internal Discussions and Debates

The League swiftly convened to discuss the situation. The debates within the League centered on how to respond to the Soviet aggression. There was an understanding that the League's credibility was at stake, and a strong response was necessary. The discussions were intense, with various proposals being put forward on how to deal with the situation.

Diplomatic Activities and Maneuvering

Diplomatic activities both within and outside the League's formal sessions were rampant. Envoys and representatives from different countries engaged in negotiations and discussions, trying to forge a consensus on the appropriate course of action. These diplomatic maneuvers were complicated by the broader context of World War II, which had already begun and influenced the decision-making and alliances within the League.

Stances of Specific Countries

The stances of specific member countries played a significant role in shaping the League's response. Great Britain and France, key members of the League, were heavily involved in the discussions and advocated for a strong stance against the Soviet Union. Other countries, however, were more cautious, not wanting to escalate tensions further in an already volatile international environment.

Smaller nations within the League, particularly those in proximity to the Soviet Union, were vocal in their criticism of the Soviet actions and pushed for decisive action. Their stance was influenced by their own security concerns and the desire to see the principles of the League upheld.

Influence on the Decision to Expel

The culmination of these discussions and diplomatic efforts was the decision to expel the Soviet Union from the League. This decision was influenced by a combination of legal considerations, moral outrage at the Soviet action, and pragmatic political calculations. It was a landmark decision, marking the first time the League had expelled a member state.

The expulsion was not just a symbolic gesture; it represented a significant moment in the history of international law and diplomacy. It underscored the challenges faced by international organizations in enforcing peace and the limitations inherent in such structures, especially during times of widespread conflict like World War II.

Taking the development of the history of recent Russian agression against a number of soveriegn states, including Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine, a comprehensive account of the League of Nations' response to the Soviet invasion of Finland cannot be underestimated. In drawing a parallel between the events of 1939 and contemporary situations, it's essential to emphasize the intricate blend of legal, ethical, and political factors that influenced the League of Nations' decision-making. This context underscores the ongoing challenges that international bodies face in upholding peace and deterring acts of aggression.


  • Walters, F. P. A History of the League of Nations. London: Oxford University Press, 1960.

Voting Mechanics and Outcomes

The divisive decision on December 14, 1939, saw seven out of fifteen Council members, including newly added countries, vote for expulsion. In analyzing the voting mechanics and outcomes regarding the Soviet Union's expulsion from the League of Nations, we can turn to Ruth Henig's book, "The League of Nations." This resource provides valuable insights into the complexities and nuances of the League's decision-making processes during a tumultuous period in global politics.

Voting Process and the Countries InvolvedThe expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations was a significant event, marked by a complex voting process. The decision was not taken lightly or hastily but was the culmination of intense debate and diplomatic maneuvering among the League's member states. Each country's vote was influenced by its own geopolitical interests, alliances, and the overarching desire to maintain international peace and stability.

Henig's analysis illustrates how different countries approached the issue, reflecting the diverse political landscapes and priorities of the time. Some nations were swayed by ideological alignments, while others were more concerned with practical considerations or the precedent that expelling a member state might set.

Analysis of the Vote Count. The vote count for the Soviet Union's expulsion was a critical aspect of the process. The decision required a clear majority, which was achieved, but not without controversy. The role of new members in the League, who were added shortly before the vote, was particularly contentious. These new members, some argue, may have tipped the balance, leading to the eventual expulsion of the Soviet Union. Seven out of the fifteen members of the Council voted for the expulsion. These members included Britain, France, and Belgium. Additionally, three members who voted – South Africa, Bolivia, and Egypt – were chosen as members of the Council just a day before the vote.

Henig’s book delves into the specifics of the vote count, providing a detailed account of which countries voted for and against the expulsion, as well as those who abstained. This analysis is crucial in understanding the dynamics within the League at that time and the factors that influenced the final decision.

The Role of New Members in the Decision.The addition of new members to the League just before the vote on the Soviet Union’s expulsion raises important questions about the influence of these countries on the outcome. Henig discusses the motivations behind their inclusion and how their votes were pivotal in the decision-making process. The circumstances under which these new members were added and their immediate impact on a decision of such magnitude are explored, shedding light on the procedural aspects of the League’s functioning and the strategic considerations of its member states.

In summary, Henig's work provides a comprehensive overview of the voting mechanics and outcomes related to the Soviet Union's expulsion from the League of Nations. Her analysis goes beyond the mere recounting of events, offering a deeper understanding of the political, diplomatic, and legal intricacies that shaped this landmark decision in international relations.


  • Henig, Ruth. The League of Nations. Edinburgh University Press, 2010.

International and Historical Significance

The expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations in 1939 is a pivotal event that holds significant implications for the understanding of international organizations and their evolution. This incident is a classic example of how the Soviet Union learned from its diplomatic isolation and strategically positioned itself in the emerging global order, post-World War II.

The key takeaway here is the Soviet Union's adaptation to the mechanisms of international politics. As detailed in the array of scholarly works, such as those by Kennedy, Trotter, Edwards, Rentola, Van Dyke, Northedge, Walters, Henig, and Scott, the Soviet Union's experience in the League of Nations influenced its approach in the formation and operation of the United Nations.

At the Tehran Conference in 1943 and the Yalta Conference in 1945, Stalin's advocacy for a new supranational institution led to the establishment of the United Nations. The Soviet Union's subsequent role in the UN, especially in the Security Council where it secured a permanent seat with veto power, marked a significant shift in its global strategy. This was a move from being expelled from an international body to being a central figure in a new, more powerful one.

The creation of the United Nations Security Council and the Soviet Union's influential role therein were not just about rectifying past diplomatic failures. They were about crafting a new platform for asserting Soviet power and influence. The lessons from the past were utilized to create a structure that would be more resistant to expulsion or isolation, as witnessed in the League of Nations.

This strategic positioning also highlights a broader challenge faced by international organizations like the United Nations today, where powerful member states, such as Russia and China, can use their legal mechanisms, like the veto, to influence or sabotage decisions. This raises questions about the effectiveness of such organizations in their current form and whether a new model is needed for effective global governance.


  • Scott, George. The Rise and Fall of the League of Nations. Hutchinson & Co Ltd, 1973.

Sources and References:

  • Kennedy, David. The Realities Behind Diplomacy: Background Influences on British External Policy, 1865–1980.
  • Trotter, William R. A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940.
  • Edwards, Robert. White Death: Russia’s War on Finland 1939-40.
  • Rentola, Kimmo. Neighbours at War: Historical Perspectives on Finland’s Relations with Russia, 1808–1944.
  • Van Dyke, Carl. The Soviet Invasion of Finland, 1939-40.
  • Northedge, F. S. The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946.
  • Walters, F. P. A History of the League of Nations.
  • Henig, Ruth. The League of Nations.
  • Scott, George. The Rise and Fall of the League of Nations.

The League of Nations, 1920

  • The League of Nations (1920 – 1946)

The League of Nations

  • Predecessor: The League of Nations
  • League of Nations- international organization

League of Nations

Parts 1 and 2 of the article aims to provide a nuanced and detailed understanding of the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939 and the Soviet Union's expulsion from the League of Nations, drawing upon historical precedent, legal analysis, and current geopolitical contexts. Please read further on.

Part 3. The Prospectives of Expulsion Russia and China from the Security Council and General Assembly.

1. Introduction to the Current Geopolitical Context and the United Nations Security Council

Current Geopolitical Context

War in Ukraine

  • Scale of Crisis: The invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces has led to widespread devastation, with significant loss of life, massive displacement of civilians, and infrastructural damage.
  • Russian Involvement: This conflict is a direct result of Russia's aggressive military actions and foreign policy. It has resulted in severe global sanctions against Russia and has raised concerns about international security and stability.

Tensions in Venezuela

  • Political and Economic Crisis: Venezuela's ongoing political and economic turmoil has led to widespread instability, affecting not just the country but the entire region.
  • Russian Involvement: Russia's support for the Venezuelan government has been a key factor in the continuation of this crisis. Today however, Venezuela has initiated a conflict that is likely to have significant implications. This development is poised to precipitate a refugee crisis at the United States border. There are concerns that Russia may be orchestrating these events as part of a broader strategy to influence political dynamics in the United States. It is speculated that this move could be aimed at facilitating the rise of the Republican party in the U.S. political arena, particularly if former President Trump regains power. One of the objectives behind this strategy could be to halt the U.S.'s military support to Ukraine, which has been a critical factor in the ongoing conflict in that region.

Geopolitical Dynamics in the Caucasus: Georgia and Armenia

  • Conflicts and Russian Influence: In both Georgia and Armenia, Russia has played a significant role in fueling territorial disputes and exerting its influence. Russia's involvement in these regions has contributed to ongoing tensions and instability.

Middle East Conflicts: Syria and Israel

  • Syrian Civil War: Russia's military support for the Assad regime in Syria has had a profound impact on the conflict, leading to significant civilian casualties and contributing to the humanitarian crisis.
  • Russia's involvement in providing support to groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, as part of a strategy to divert military aid away from Ukraine, has escalated from structural and financial backing to directly supplying advanced weapons such as modern anti-ship and anti-tank missiles. This shift in tactics has contributed significantly to the intensification of regional tensions and conflicts.

These conflicts, spanning from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, highlight the extensive reach of Russia's foreign policy and its impact on global stability. The actions of Russia in these regions have not only exacerbated existing conflicts but also posed significant challenges to international peace and security.

The notion that we are on the brink of a World War 3 with nuclear weapons, influenced by escalating entropy due to various factors like climate change and the development of artificial intelligence, is a complex and multifaceted concern. This perspective often stems from the interconnectedness of global issues and the rapid pace of technological advancement, which can lead to uncertainties and heightened tensions to only name a few:

  1. Global Political Tensions: The current international landscape is marked by various geopolitical tensions, some of which involve nuclear-armed states based on the contradiction of tyrranies and democracies. While conflicts and rivalries exist, there is some space for diplomatic efforts and international treaties aimed at preventing such large-scale conflicts.
  2. Climate Change: Climate change is indeed a significant global challenge, leading to environmental, social, and economic impacts. While it contributes to global instability, linking it directly to the outbreak of a world war requires a more nuanced understanding of international relations and environmental policy.
  3. Advancements in Artificial Intelligence: The rapid development of AI brings both opportunities and challenges. AI can be a tool for solving complex problems, including those related to climate change and conflict resolution. However, concerns about AI in military technology and cybersecurity are valid and require careful management.
  4. Entropy and Complexity: The concept of increasing entropy, in a metaphorical sense, can refer to the growing complexity and unpredictability in global affairs. This complexity does not inevitably lead to a global conflict but does require careful navigation by global leaders and policymakers.

In summary, today's global challenges, such as political tensions, climate change, and rapid technological advancements, do not inevitably lead to World War 3. A balanced perspective, acknowledging these complexities and recognizing ongoing efforts to mitigate them, is still viable. Nevertheless, when devising a global survival strategy, decisions should be clear, deliberate, and forthright, addressing these issues head-on.

United Nations and Its Security Council

The United Nations, established in 1945, was created to prevent the kind of large-scale conflicts that devastated the world during the two World Wars. The UN Security Council, a principal organ of the UN, is responsible for maintaining international peace and security. The authority vested in the permanent members of the Security Council, including Russia, encompasses not only veto power but also the ability to set agendas and exercise leadership. This concentration of power in a faschist country like Russia or a purely totalitarian like China, often poses challenges in effectively addressing global crises, particularly when one of these members is directly involved in a conflict.

United Nations and Its Security Council

The United Nations (UN) was established in the aftermath of World War II, with the primary aim of preventing future large-scale conflicts. The Security Council, one of its six main organs, holds the responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.

  • Formation and Purpose: The UN was formed in 1945, following the devastation of World War II. It aimed to provide a platform for dialogue, preventing conflicts through cooperation and collective decision-making.
  • Security Council's Role: As per the UN Charter, the Security Council is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security. It has the authority to make decisions that member states are obligated to implement.
  • Veto Power: The five permanent members of the Security Council (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) possess veto power, allowing them to block any substantive resolution. This has been a subject of controversy and debate, as it can impede the Council's ability to respond effectively to international crises.

2. Expulsion from the Security Council and General Assembly: A Detailed Analysis
Expulsion from the Security Council
Legal Possibility: Expelling a permanent member from the UN Security Council (UNSC) is seen as legally challenging. The conventional wisdom suggests that because Russia, as a permanent member, can exercise its veto power, it effectively prevents the General Assembly from voting on its own expulsion​​​​. Charter Interpretation: There is, however, a perspective that suggests the General Assembly might have the legal authority to expel a member, regardless of the Security Council's decision. This view is based on a detailed interpretation of the UN Charter and historical discussions by the International Court of Justice (ICJ)​​​​. 

ICJ Opinion: The ICJ's advisory opinion in 1962, while discussing the General Assembly's relationship with the Security Council, suggested that the Assembly also has responsibilities concerning international peace and security. This implies that the Assembly's decision-making may not be entirely contingent on the Security Council's recommendations​​. 

Procedural Ambiguity: Some argue that the requirement for a Security Council recommendation does not necessarily mean that the General Assembly can only vote on expulsion after the Council has recommended it.

The Charter does not explicitly state that a Security Council recommendation must precede the General Assembly's vote​​.

Expulsion from the General Assembly

Article 6 of the UN Charter: According to Article 6, a member that has persistently violated the
Charter's principles can be expelled from the UN by the General Assembly, but only upon the recommendation of the Security Council. Historically, no member state has been removed under this Article​​​​.

Article 6 of the United Nations Charter states:

"A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

The Role of the Security Council and the Veto Power

Grounds for Expulsion: As you can see, Article 6 of the UN Charter specifies that expulsion from the UN can be due to grave infractions such as aggressive warfare, genocide, or significant violations of international law. Accusations against nations like Russia and China for these offenses have been noted. Expelling a member, particularly a permanent Security Council member like Russia or China, is a complicated and novel procedure. It encompasses substantial political and legal difficulties, including needing a Security Council recommendation, where these nations wield veto power, thus rendering their expulsion from the UN highly unlikely under the existing frameworks of international law. Post World War II, Joseph Stalin leveraged his position to ensure the Soviet Union would not be expelled from the UN despite any potential future acts of aggression or genocide.

Security Council's Role: The Security Council’s recommendation is inevitable for the expulsion process. However, since this requires the consent of all permanent members, a member like Russia can veto any such recommendation, making its expulsion impossible​​​​. 

Historical Context: An interesting detail: the concept of expulsion was initially proposed by the Soviet Union during the formation of the UN Charter, as a disciplinary measure​​.

Amendment of the UN Charter
Process: Amendments to the UN Charter require a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly and ratification by two-thirds of the members, including all permanent members of the Security Council​​. The process for amending the United Nations Charter is detailed in Article 108 and Article 109 of the Charter:

Article 108: States that amendments to the UN Charter shall come into effect for all members when adopted by a two-thirds vote of the members of the General Assembly and ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two-thirds of the members of the United Nations, including all permanent members of the Security Council.

Article 108 of the United Nations Charter states:

Amendments to the present Charter shall come into force for all Members of the United Nations when they have been adopted by a vote of two thirds of the members of the General Assembly and ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two thirds of the Members of the United Nations, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.

Article 109: Provides for the convening of a General Conference of the Members of the United Nations to consider amendments to the Charter.

Article 109(1): A General Conference of the Members of the United Nations for the purpose of reviewing the present Charter may be held at a date and place to be fixed by a two-thirds vote of the members of the General Assembly and by a vote of any nine members of the Security Council. Each Member of the United Nations shall have one vote in the conference.

Article 109(2): Any alteration of the present Charter recommended by a two-thirds vote of the conference shall take effect when ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two-thirds of the Members of the United Nations including all the permanent members of the Security Council.

Challenges: Because amendments require the consent of all permanent members, it is practically impossible for other member states to force these members to relinquish their veto power or change their status​​. As of 2023, the United Nations Security Council is composed of 15 member countries. This includes five permanent members and ten non-permanent members. The permanent members are:

  1. China
  2. France
  3. Russian Federation
  4. The United Kingdom
  5. The United States

These permanent members have the right to veto.

The non-permanent members as of 2023 are:

  1. Albania
  2. Brazil
  3. Ecuador
  4. Gabon
  5. Ghana
  6. Japan
  7. Malta
  8. Mozambique
  9. Switzerland
  10. The United Arab Emirates

These non-permanent members serve for two-year terms and are elected by the General Assembly, which comprises all 193 UN Member States

Article 109: This Article provides for a General Conference to consider amendments. There has been historical debate about invoking this provision for broader UN reform​​.

While the legal and procedural frameworks for the expulsionof a Security Council member exist, the practical implementation is highly complex and unprecedented, entwined with political and legal challenges. The unique veto power of permanent members adds an additional layer of complexity
to any attempt at expulsion or significant reform of the Charter.

There is also some space to challenge the membership in the United Nations of both, Russsia and China. The first on the grounds of incomplete succession process and trhe latter on the grounds of a differentsubject of the public law- technically, the member of the United Nations which is generally called China is located in Taiwan. Here is more on it.

Diplomatic and Legal Challenges

The discussion around expelling the Russian Federation from the United Nations based on technicalities and historical precedents presents a complex legal and political challenge. Let's break down the key points:

  1. UN Charter's Provision on Permanent Members: According to Article 23 of the UN Charter, the Soviet Union was listed as a permanent member of the Security Council. However, following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Russian Federation proclaimed itself as the USSR's successor, including its UN seat. This transition was not formally challenged or legally scrutinized within the UN framework.
  2. Precedents of Changes in Representation: There are precedents in UN history where the General Assembly intervened in matters of representation and membership:
  • Yugoslavia (1992): The UN recognized the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, stating that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) could not automatically continue the SFRY's membership.
  • China (1971): The UN General Assembly passed Resolution 2758 recognizing the People's Republic of China as the legitimate representative of China, replacing the representation of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
  1. Technical Argument Against Russian Federation's Membership: Based on these precedents, a technical argument could be made that the Russian Federation, as a successor state to the USSR, should not automatically inherit the USSR’s seat in the Security Council. This argument hinges on the principle that a new state must apply for UN membership and cannot inherit the seat of a predecessor state.
  2. Challenges and Implications of Expelling Russia:
  • Legal and Political Hurdles: Expelling Russia or any permanent member from the UN would require overcoming significant legal barriers and would have major geopolitical implications.
  • Reaction and Feasibility: Such an action would likely be met with strong resistance and could exacerbate international tensions. The feasibility of successfully expelling Russia based on these technicalities is highly doubtful.

Alternative Approach - Establishing a New United Nations:

  • Rationale: To bypass the stalemate and the contentious issue of expelling a permanent member, an alternative approach could be to wind down the current United Nations and establish a new international organization.
  • Benefits: This would allow for a fresh start and the opportunity to address structural issues, including the veto power of permanent members, which has often been a point of contention.
  • Challenges: However, creating a new global organization would be an enormous undertaking, requiring broad international consensus and significant logistical, legal, and political efforts.

In summary, while the technical argument for expelling the Russian Federation from the UN based on the succession of the USSR's seat has some historical precedents, it faces significant challenges. The alternative approach of establishing a new United Nations is also fraught with difficulties but offers a potential solution to the current impasse. However, both options would require careful consideration of the legal, political, and practical implications and we will deal with this alternative in more details below.

Expulsion or suspension from international bodies has occurred throughout history, each instance offering unique insights into international relations and the functioning of these organizations. Here's an analysis of some notable cases, including the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations, which serves as a significant historical precedent.

1. The League of Nations and the Soviet Union

Context: In 1939, the League of Nations expelled the Soviet Union following its invasion of Finland.


  • Upholding Principles: The expulsion demonstrated the League’s commitment to its covenant, particularly respect for territorial integrity and political independence of member states.
  • International Solidarity: It was a rare instance of collective action by the League's members against a major power violating international norms.


  • Limited Impact: The expulsion did not deter the Soviet Union from continuing its military campaign.
  • Weakening of the League: The expulsion of a major power weakened the League's influence and highlighted its limitations in enforcing its resolutions.

Lesson: This case underscores the symbolic importance of upholding international law, but also the limitations of international organizations in effecting behavioral change in powerful states.

2. Yugoslavia’s Suspension from the United Nations

Context: In 1992, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) was suspended from the General Assembly following the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.


  • Legal Clarity: The suspension clarified the UN’s stance on state succession and membership criteria.
  • Pressure on FRY: The suspension increased international pressure on FRY regarding its role in the Balkan conflicts.


  • Controversial Precedent: The suspension set a controversial precedent as the UN Charter does not explicitly provide for suspension of membership.
  • Political Ramifications: It intensified debates over international recognition and succession of states.

Lesson: This instance highlights the complexities in dealing with state succession in international organizations and the potential for political ramifications.

3. South Africa’s Suspension from the Commonwealth

Context: In 1961, South Africa was suspended from the Commonwealth due to its apartheid policies.


  • Moral Standpoint: The suspension was a strong statement against apartheid, aligning with the Commonwealth's human rights values.
  • Galvanizing Global Opposition: It helped to galvanize international opposition to apartheid.


  • Polarization: The suspension polarized member states and raised questions about the Commonwealth’s role in domestic affairs of its members.
  • Limited Immediate Effect: The suspension did not lead to immediate policy changes in South Africa.

Lesson: The South African case illustrates how international organizations can play a role in addressing human rights violations, but also the challenges in balancing internal unity with moral imperatives.

4. Pakistan’s Suspension from the Commonwealth

Context: Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth in 1999 following a military coup.


  • Upholding Democratic Principles: The suspension affirmed the Commonwealth's commitment to democracy and constitutional rule.
  • Consistent Application of Rules: Demonstrated the Commonwealth's willingness to apply its principles consistently across member states.


  • Strained Relations: Led to strained relations between Pakistan and other Commonwealth countries.
  • Effectiveness Questioned: The impact on the restoration of democracy in Pakistan was debatable.

Lesson: Pakistan's suspension highlights the role of international organizations in promoting democratic governance, yet also points to the limits of such actions in influencing domestic politics.

5. Russia’s Suspension from the G8

Context: In 2014, Russia was suspended from the G8 (now G7) following its annexation of Crimea.


  • Strong Signal: Sent a strong message of disapproval from major world economies.
  • Solidarity among Members: Showed unity among the G7 nations in responding to breaches of international law.


  • Escalation of Tensions: Contributed to escalating tensions between Russia and the West.
  • Limited Economic Impact: The suspension had limited impact on Russia’s economy or its policies.

Lesson: This case reflects the symbolic importance of suspension as a tool for expressing collective disapproval, but also its limitations in effecting change in the behavior of powerful states.

Comparative Analysis

These historical instances demonstrate that expulsion or suspension from international bodies can serve as a powerful symbolic gesture to uphold international norms and principles. However, the effectiveness of such actions in compelling states to alter their behavior is often limited, especially in the case of powerful nations. These decisions can also lead to unintended political and diplomatic consequences, affecting the cohesion and effectiveness of the international organization involved.

In analyzing these precedents, it is clear that the context and power dynamics of each situation significantly influence the outcomes. The expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations serves as a notable example where enforcing the League's principles had minimal impact on altering Soviet behavior and arguably hastened the League's decline. However, it's important to consider the context behind this limited effect. Post-World War II, the Soviet Union emerged as a leading global power, exerting influence over a significant portion of the world's population, at least to a certain degree. This geopolitical reality suggests that if the Soviet Union had not held such a dominant position, the ramifications of its expulsion from the League of Nations could have been substantially more severe for the country. In contrast, the suspension of South Africa from the Commonwealth played a role in the broader international movement against apartheid, even if it did not immediately change South African policies.


Overall, these historical examples highlight the complexity of decisions regarding expulsion or suspension from international organizations. They underscore the need for careful consideration of the potential impacts, both symbolic and practical, and the broader geopolitical context in which such decisions are made.
The potential expulsion of Russia and China from the United Nations, particularly on technical grounds, raises significant concerns about the effectiveness and moral implications of such actions. While the technical approach may seem legally sound, it lacks the essential component of a direct, morally principled stance against the actions of these countries, particularly in light of their aggressive and authoritarian behaviors, labeled as "fascist Russia" and "dictatorship China."

The case of the Soviet Union's expulsion from the League of Nations, as previously discussed, is instructive. It shows that mere technical expulsion, without a broader context of moral and ethical condemnation, may have little impact on the behavior of powerful nations. In the case of Russia and China, their current geopolitical influence and economic power mean that a technical expulsion from the UN is likely to be largely symbolic, without significantly altering their international conduct or policies.

Considering this, the idea of creating a new United Nations, with a revised charter that explicitly addresses and prevents such authoritarian and aggressive behaviors, presents a compelling alternative. This new organization would not only symbolically reject the actions of Russia and China but also establish a framework that more robustly promotes and enforces international peace, human rights, and cooperative global governance.

Establishing a new United Nations would be a monumental task, requiring broad international consensus and significant reorganization. It would involve redefining membership criteria, revising veto powers, and possibly introducing new mechanisms for conflict resolution and enforcement of international law. This approach aligns with a principled stand against aggression and authoritarianism, offering a path to a more equitable and effective international order.

In conclusion, while the technical expulsion of Russia and China from the current UN may serve as a symbolic gesture, it falls short in terms of moral leadership and practical impact. The establishment of a new United Nations, built on stronger moral foundations and more effective governance structures, offers a more meaningful response to the challenges posed by fascist Russia and dictatorship China. This approach not only addresses the immediate concerns regarding these countries' actions but also sets a precedent for a more principled and effective global governance system in the future.

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