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A satellite state (sometimes referred to as a client state) is a political term that refers to a country which is formally independent, but under heavy influence or control by another country. The term was coined by analogy to stellar objects orbiting a larger object, such as smaller moons revolving around larger planets, and is used mainly to refer to Central and Eastern European countries of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War or to Mongolia between 1924 and 1990, for example. As used for Central and Eastern European countries it implies that the countries in question were "satellites" under the hegemony of the Soviet Unionmarker. In some contexts it also refers to other countries in the Soviet sphere of influence during the Cold War - such as North Koreamarker (especially in the decades surrounding the Korean War) and Cubamarker (particularly after it joined the Comecon). In Western propaganda, the term has seldom been used to refer to states other than those in the Soviet orbit. In Soviet propaganda, the term was used to refer to the states in the orbit of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

A satellite state is a country that is dominated politically and economically by another nation. In times of war or political tension, satellite states sometimes serve as a buffer between an enemy country and the nation exerting control over the satellite. "Satellite state" is one of several contentious terms used to describe the (alleged) subordination of one state to another. Other such terms include puppet state and neo-colony. In general, the term "satellite state" implies deep ideological allegiance to the hegemonic power, whereas puppet state implies political and military dependence, and neo-colony implies (abject) economic dependence. Depending on which aspect of dependence is being emphasised, a state may fall into more than one category.

Soviet Satellite States

At the end of World War II, all eastern and central European capitols were controlled by the Soviet Unionmarker. The Soviets remained in these countries after the war's end. Through a series of coalition governments including Communist parties, and then a forced liquidation of non-communist coalition members, communist systems were established in each country. Communists gained control of existing governments, police, press and radio outlets in these countries. Soviet satellite states in Europe included:

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker is sometimes also referred to as a Soviet satellite, though it broke from the Soviet Union in the 1948 Tito-Stalin split and subsequently helped to form the Non-Aligned Movement. The People's Republic of Albania, under the leadership of Stalinist Enver Hoxha, broke ties with the Soviet Union in 1960 following the Soviet de-stalinization. These countries were all members of the Eastern Bloc.

Post-Cold War use of the term

Commentators have sometimes expressed concern that United States military and diplomatic interventions in the Middle East might lead to the equivalent of a satellite state. William Pfaff has warned that a permanent American presence in Iraqmarker would "turn Iraq into an American satellite state." The term has also been used to describe the relationship between Lebanonmarker and Syriamarker, which has been accused of intervening in Lebanese politcal affairs.

See also


  1. Source: NATO website 2nd Footnote at bottom


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