This article shows how official discussions of federal arrangements within the USSR affected Soviet foreign policy from the 1940s through the 1960s, especially on questions of decolonization and relations with the United States and other Western countries. Connecting Soviet domestic history and international developments, the article shows how the federal structure of the USSR was used in transnational debates on composite polities, race, and nationality and also how it was debated internally. Attacks on the highly centralized nature of Soviet federal structures in international arenas and the countermeasures adopted as part of the ideological Cold War had long-term as well as short-term effects on Soviet politics and foreign policy. Within the USSR, such attacks raised questions about the ethnofederal structure of the USSR and provided comparison points for both loyalist and dissident proponents of national rights in the country.

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