A puppet state, puppet régime or puppet government, is a state that is de jure independent but de facto completely dependent upon an outside power and completely submits to their orders. Puppet states have nominal sovereignty, but a foreign or otherwise alien power effectively exercises control for reasons such as financial interests, economic or military support. Puppet states are distinguished from allies in that allies choose their actions on their own or in accordance with treaties they voluntarily entered.
A puppet state preserves the external paraphernalia of independence - such as a name, flag, anthem, constitution, law codes, motto and government - but in reality is an organ of another state which created, sponsors or otherwise controls the government of the puppet state. International law does not recognize occupied puppet states as legitimate.
Puppet states can transition from puppet status through:
military defeat of the puppet-master state (as in Europe and Asia in 1945)
absorption into the puppet-master state (as in the early Soviet Union)
According to the Montevideo Convention the state should possess a territory, therefore, in a situation where there is a government dependent on a foreign state and does not actually control the territory of the country, the term puppet government is used.
In the Middle Agesvassal states existed which were based on delegation of rule of a country from a King to noble men of lower rank. Since the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 the concept of a nation came into existence where sovereignty was connected more to the people who inhabited the land than to the nobility who owned the land. The term is a metaphor which compares a state or government to a puppet controlled by an outside puppeteer using strings. The first recorded use of the term "puppet government" is from 1884, in reference to the Khedivate of Egypt.
Mengjiang, set up in Inner Mongolia on May 12, 1936, as the Mongol Military Government (蒙古軍政府) was renamed in October 1937 as the Mongol United Autonomous Government (蒙古聯盟自治政府). On September 1, 1939, the predominantly Han Chinese governments of South Chahar Autonomous Government and North Shanxi Autonomous Government were merged with the Mongol Autonomous Government, creating the new Mengjiang United Autonomous Government (蒙疆聯合自治政府). All of these were headed by De Wang.
In 1945, as the Second World War drew to a close, Japan planned to grant independence to the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). These plans ended when the Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945.
Several European governments under the domination of Germany and Italy during World War II have been described as "puppet régimes". The formal means of control in occupied Europe varied greatly. These states fall into several categories.
Existing states in alliance with Germany and Italy
Government of National Unity (1944–1945) – The pro-Nazi régime of Prime Minister Ferenc Szálasi supported by the Arrow Cross Party was a German puppet régime. Arrow Cross was a pro-German, anti-Semitic Fascist party. Szálasi was installed by the Germans after Hitler launched Operation Panzerfaust and had the Hungarian Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, removed and placed under house arrest. Horthy was forced to abdicate in favor of Szálasi. Szálasi fought on even after Budapest fell and Hungary was completely overrun.
Vichy France (1940–1942) – The Vichy French régime of Philippe Pétain had limited autonomy from 1940 to 1942, being heavily dependent on Germany. The Vichy government controlled many of France's colonies and the unoccupied part of France and enjoyed international recognition. In 1942, the Germans occupied the portion of France administered by the Vichy government in Case Anton and installed a new leadership, which ended much of the international legitimacy the government had.
Monaco (1943–1945) – In 1943, the Italian army invaded and occupied Monaco, setting up a fascist administration. Shortly thereafter, following Mussolini's collapse in Italy, the German army occupied Monaco and began the deportation of the Jewish population. Among them was René Blum, founder of the Ballet de l'Opera, who died in a Nazi extermination camp.
Independent State of Croatia (1941–1945) – The Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska or NDH) was a German and Italian puppet régime. On paper, the NDH was a kingdom under King Tomislav II (Aimone, Duke of Spoleto) of the House of Savoy, but Tomislav II was only a figurehead in Croatia who never exercised any real power, with Ante Pavelić being a somewhat independent leader ("poglavnik"), though staying obedient to Rome and Berlin.
Belarusian Central Rada (1943–1944) – The Belarusian Central Council (Biełaruskaja Centralnaja Rada) was nominally the government of Belarus from 1943–1944. It was a collaborationist government established by Nazi Germany (see Reichskommissariat Ostland).
Italian Social Republic (1943–1945, known also as the Republic of Salò) – General Pietro Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel III withdrew Italy from the Axis Powers and moved the government to southern Italy, already conquered by the Allies. In response, the Germans occupied northern Italy and founded the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana or RSI) with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as its "Head of State" and "Minister of Foreign Affairs". While the RSI government had some trappings of an independent state, it was completely dependent both economically and politically on Germany.
Tuvinian People's Republic,[disputed – discuss] also Tannu Tuva (1921–1944) achieved independence from China by means of local nationalist revolutions only to come under the domination of the Soviet Union in the 1920s. In 1944, Tannu Tuva was absorbed into the Soviet Union.
Finnish Democratic Republic (1939–1940) – The Finnish Democratic Republic (Suomen Kansanvaltainen Tasavalta) was a short-lived republic in those parts of Finland that were occupied by the Soviet Union during the Winter War. The Finnish Democratic Republic was also known as the "Terijoki Government" (Terijoen hallitus) because Terijoki was the first town captured by the Soviets.
Republic of Mahabad (January 22, 1946 – January 15, 1947), officially known as the Republic of Kurdistan and established in several provinces of northwestern Iran, or what is known as Iranian Kurdistan, was a short-lived republic that sought Kurdish autonomy within the limits of the Iranian state. Iran re-took control in December and the leaders of the state were executed in March 1947 in Mahabad.
The Axis demand for oil and the concern of the Allies that Germany would look to the oil-rich Middle East for a solution, caused the invasion of Iraq by the United Kingdom and the invasion of Iran by the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. Pro-Axis governments in both Iraq and Iran were removed and replaced with Allied-dominated governments.
Kingdom of Iraq (1941–1943) – Iraq was important to the United Kingdom because of its position on the route to India. Iraq also could provide strategic oil reserves. But, due to the UK's weakness early in the war, Iraq backed away from the pre-war Anglo-Iraqi Alliance. On 1 April 1941, the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq was over-thrown and there was a pro-German coup d'état under Rashid Ali. The Rashid Ali regime began negotiations with the Axis powers and military aid was quickly sent to Mosul via Vichy French-controlled Syria. The Germans provided a squadron of twin engine fighters and a squadron of medium bombers. The Italians provided a squadron of biplane fighters. In mid-April 1941, a brigade of the 10th Indian Infantry Division landed at Basra (Operation Sabine). On 30 April, British forces at RAF Habbaniya were besieged by a numerically inferior Iraqi force. On 2 May, the British launched pre-emptive airstrikes against the Iraqis and the Anglo-Iraqi War began. By the end of May, the siege of RAF Habbaniya was lifted, Falluja was taken, Baghdad was surrounded by British forces, and the pro-German government of Rashid Ali collapsed. Rashid Ali and his supporters fled the country. The Hashemite monarchy (King Faisal II and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said) was restored. The UK then forced Iraq to declare war on the Axis in 1942. Commonwealth forces remained in Iraq until 26 October 1947.
Imperial State of Iran (1941–1943) – German workers in Iran caused the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union to question Iran's neutrality. In addition, Iran's geographical position was important to the Allies. So, in August 1941, the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran (Operation Countenance) was launched. In September 1941, Reza Shah Pahlavi was forced to abdicate his throne and went into exile. He was replaced by his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was willing to declare war on the Axis powers. By January 1942, the UK and the Soviet Union agreed to end their occupation of Iran six months after the end of the war.
In some cases, the process of decolonization has been managed by the decolonizing power to create a neo-colony, that is a nominally independent state whose economy and politics permits continued foreign domination. Neo-colonies are not normally considered puppet states.
Following the victory of the Viet Minh in the First Indochina War, the 1954 Geneva Accords stipulated that Vietnam would be divided for two years only, until national elections could be held. However, the Americans along with Ngo Dinh Diem feared that Ho Chi Minh and the Communists would win the election. The State of Vietnam and the United States didn't sign the Geneva Accords, citing that it was impossible to hold free and fair nationwide democratic elections in the communist North, and this was later expressed by UN observers monitoring the partition of Vietnam. As a result, South Vietnam and the U.S. were not bound by its terms. In 1955 the Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, supported by the United States, declared the independence of the Republic of Vietnam in the southern half of Vietnam. Over time, Diem grew increasingly uncomfortable with the role of the U.S. in his country, complaining that they were increasing the conflict with North Vietnam. Diem's complaints became more vocal as American soldiers, called "advisors", continued to pour into the country, and some began calling Diem an uncooperative client and a puppet pulling his own strings. After he became seen more as a liability than an asset to America, Diem was assassinated in 1963 with the complicity of the CIA and John F. Kennedy.
The principal purpose of these states was to remove the Xhosa, Tswana and Venda peoples from South African citizenship (and so to provide grounds for denying them democratic rights). All four bantustans were reincorporated into a democratic South Africa on 27 April 1994.
Abkhazia is considered a puppet state that depends on Russia. The economy of Abkhazia is heavily integrated with Russia and uses the Russian ruble as its currency. About half of Abkhazia's state budget is financed with aid money from Russia. Most Abkhazians have Russian passports. Russia maintains a 3,500-strong force in Abkhazia with its headquarters in Gudauta, a former Soviet military base on the Black Sea coast. The borders of the Republic of Abkhazia are being protected by the Russian border guards.
South Ossetia has declared independence but its ability to maintain independence is solely based on Russian troops deployed on its territory. As South Ossetia is landlocked between Russia and Georgia, from which it seceded, it has to rely on Russia for economic and logistical support, as its entire exports and imports and air and road traffic is only between Russia. Former President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity claimed he would like South Ossetia eventually to become a part of the Russian Federation through reunification with North Ossetia.
Transnistria – is sometimes considered a puppet state which is supported by Russia.
^Raič, David (2002). Statehood and the Law of Self-Determination. Kluwer Law International. p. 81. ISBN90-411-1890-X. Retrieved 13 September 2017. In most cases, puppet States are created by the occupant during occupation of a State, for the purpose of circumventing the former's international responsibility regarding the violation of the rights of the occupied State.
^Shapiro, Stephen (2003). Ultra Hush-hush. Annick Press. p. 38. ISBN1-55037-778-7. Puppet state: a country whose government is being controlled by the government of another country, much as a puppeteer controls the strings on a marionette
^ abcThe Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Postcommunist States and Nations) David J. Smith from Front Matter ISBN0-415-28580-1
^ abcMälksoo, Lauri (2003). Illegal Annexation and State Continuity: The Case of the Incorporation of the Baltic States by the USSR. Leiden – Boston: Brill. ISBN90-411-2177-3.
^Estonia: Identity and Independence: Translated into English (On the Boundary of Two Worlds: Identity, Freedom, and Moral Imagination in the Baltics) Jean-Jacques Subrenat, David Cousins, Alexander Harding, Richard C. Waterhouse on Page 246. ISBN90-420-0890-3
^Dodd, Clement Henry (1993). The political, social and economic development of Northern Cyprus. Eothen Press. p. 377. ISBN9780906719183. In short, the electorate of Northern Cyprus votes freely for its political leaders and gives them substantial support. Nor is Northern Cyprus a Turkish puppet state. Mr Denktas and the Turkish-Cypriot case have a powerful following in Turkey...