Albania leaves Warsaw Pact

After 1943 the tide had turned on the Russian front in WW II, and the Red Army began advancing westward, beyond the bounds of Russia, securing neighboring republics as spheres of influence and buffer states in case of future invasion. Some half a million troops were raised among Soviet sympathizers and politically indoctrinated troops, which after the war helped to spread Soviet propaganda at home. Albania and Yugoslavia were two notable exceptions: both nations on USSR’s periphery were never occupied by the USSR and both remained independent of its control.

On this day, September 13, in 1968, Albania, the country that founded the Warsaw Pact, left it, after a political dispute with Russia.

The Albanians sided with China in the Sino-Soviet conflicts of the 1960s, and in response Russia ended military cooperation with Albania. With the only benefit from the Warsaw Pact now withdrawn, Albania decided to end their membership in the Warsaw Pact. As China before it, Albania accused both the USSR and America of diving the world into spheres of influence — and then watched in alarm as China aligned itself closer to the West. From that moment onward, Albania mostly isolated itself politically from foreign affairs.