Earlier historical studies often suggested that the Soviet leader Iosif Stalin, distrustful as he was of Ho Chi Minh's policies and attributing little importance to Vietnam, remained unwilling to recognize the Democratic Republic of Vietnam until the Chinese Communist leaders threw their weight behind their Vietnamese comrades. On the basis of Soviet press articles, Hungarian archival documents, United Nations (UN) records, and other sources, this article shows that in fact Soviet interest in Vietnam significantly increased as early as 1948–1949, well before the proclamation of the People's Republic of China. This interest, expressed in growing press coverage and sporadic efforts to represent North Vietnam's cause in various UN organs, seems to have been linked to Moscow's strong disapproval of France's attempts to create an anti-Communist “puppet state.” From the outset, the USSR took the position that the Communist North was the sole legitimate representative of the Vietnamese nation and, hence, that the Bao Dai regime in the South was ipso facto illegitimate. The article concludes that Chinese support to Ho Chi Minh was only one of the three major factors that persuaded Stalin to recognize North Vietnam; the two others were the “Bao Dai factor” and Moscow's dissatisfaction with France's new European policy.

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