Military Wiki

Puppet state is a term of political criticism, used to denigrate a government which is perceived as unduly dependent upon an outside power. It implies that government's lack of legitimacy, in the view of those using the term.

The first puppet states

Nominally independent states influenced by stronger powers have existed through history, but the advent of modern theories of state sovereignty makes 19th century Europe a natural starting point for such a discussion.

19th Century

The first true puppet state in modern European history, in the sense of a state which claimed popular legitimacy but which was significantly dependent on an external power, was the Batavian Republic, established in the Netherlands under French revolutionary protection.

The first puppet states, in the sense of new states whose creation was made possible by the intervention of a foreign power, were the Italian republics created in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with the assistance and encouragement of Napoleonic France. See also French client republics.

In 1836 Americans allowed to live in the Mexican state of Texas revolted against the Mexican government to establish the American sponsored Republic of Texas, a country that existed barely 10 years (from May 14, 1836 to December 29, 1845) before it was annexed to the United States of America. However, since August 1837, Memucan Hunt, Jr., the Texan minister to the United States, submitted a first annexation proposal to the Van Buren administration.

In 1895, Japan detached Korea from its tributary relationship with China, giving it formal independence which was a prelude to Japanese annexation.

In 1896 Britain established a puppet state in Zanzibar.

Puppet states in World War I

  • Belarusian National Republic (1918–1919) – Part of the German Empire's plan of Mitteleuropa. Later became a part of the Soviet Union.
  • Kingdom of Poland (1916–1918) – The Central Powers' forces occupied Russian Congress Poland in 1915 and in 1916 the German Empire and Austria-Hungary created a Polish Monarchy in order to exploit the occupied territories in an easier way and mobilize the Poles against the Russians (see Polish Legions). In 1918 the puppet-state became independent and formed the backbone of the new internationally recognized Second Polish Republic.
  • Kingdom of Lithuania (1918) – after Russia's defeat, the Germans established a puppet Lithuanian kingdom. However it became an independent republic with Germany's defeat.
  • Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1918) – in 1915 the Imperial German forces occupied the Russian Courland Governorate and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended the war in the east, so the local ethnic Baltic Germans established a Duchy under the German crown from that part of Ober Ost, with a common return of civil administration in favor of military. The puppet-state was very swiftly merged with another German puppet state, the Baltic State Duchy, and German-occupied territories of Russian Empire in Livonia and Estonia, into a multi-ethnic United Baltic Duchy, another German puppet-state.
  • Kingdom of Finland (1918) – A short-lived monarchy in Finland after the end of czarist rule

Puppet states of Imperial Japan

During Japan's imperial period, and particularly during the Pacific War (parts of which are considered the Pacific theatre of World War II), Japan established a number of states that historians have come to consider puppet régimes.

Nominally sovereign states

  • Manchukuo (1932–1945), set up in Manchuria under the leadership of the last Chinese Emperor, Puyi.[1]
  • 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 puppet 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.[2]
  • Dadao government (Shanghai 1937-1940)- A short lived regime based in Shanghai.
  • Reformed Government of the Republic of China- First regime established in Nanjing after the Battle of Nanjing. Later fused into the Provisional Government of China.
  • Provisional Government of China December 14, 1937 - March 30, 1940 - Incorporated into the Nanjing Nationalist Government on March 30, 1940.[3]
  • Nanjing Nationalist Government ( March 30, 1940–1945) - Established in Nanjing by collaborationists under Wang Jingwei.[4]
  • East Hebei Autonomous Council- Brief Japanese puppet state in the mid-1930s.
  • State of Burma (Burma, 1942–1945) - Head of state Ba Maw.
  • Second Philippine Republic (1943–1945) – Collaborationist government headed by José P. Laurel as President.
  • The Provisional Government of Free India (1943–1945), set up in Singapore in October 1943 by Subhas Chandra Bose and alleged by the Allies to have been a puppet state, it was in charge of Indian expatriates and military personnel in Japanese Southeast Asia. The government was established with prospective control of Indian territory to fall to the offensive to India. Of the territory of post-independence India, the government took charge of Kohima (after it fell to Japanese-INA offensive), parts of Manipur that fell to both the Japanese 15th Army as well as to the INA, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Empire of Vietnam (March–August 1945) – Emperor Bảo Đại's regime with Tran Trong Kim as prime minister after proclaiming independence from France.
  • Kingdom of Cambodia (Cambodia, March–August 1945) – King Norodom Sihanouk's regime with Son Ngoc Thanh as Prime Minister after proclaiming independence from France.
  • Kingdom of Laos – King Sisavang Vong's régime after proclaiming independence from France.

Other plans

Japan had plans for other puppet states.

The Provisional Priamurye Government was a Japanese puppet régime that never got beyond the planning stages.[citation needed] In addition to the Japanese, the Germans supported the formation of this state.[citation needed] In 1943, the plans for a White Russian state died for good after the Battle for Stalingrad.

In 1945, as the Second World War drew to a close, Japan planned to grant puppet independence to the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia). These plans ended when the Japanese surrendered on 15 August 1945.

Puppet states of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy

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

  • Romania (1940–1944) - The "National Legionary State" government of General (later Marshal) Ion Antonescu and Horia Sima's Iron Guard was an ally of Germany from 1940-1943. After Italy surrendered in September 1943 Romania became a puppet of Germany.The Iron Guard was an ultra-nationalist anti-Semitic Fascist movement.
  • Hungary's 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.

Existing states under German or Italian rule

  • Albania under Italy (1940–1943) and Albania under Nazi Germany (1943–1944) - The Kingdom of Albania was an Italian protectorate and puppet régime. Italy invaded Albania in 1939 and ended the rule of King Zog I. Zog was exiled and King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy added King of Albania to his title. King Victor Emmanuel and Shefqet Bej Verlaci, Albanian Prime Minister and Head of State, controlled the Italian protectorate. Shefqet Bej Verlaci was replaced as Prime Minister and Head of State by Mustafa Merlika Kruja on 3 December 1941. The Germans occupied Albania when Italy quit the war in 1943 and Ibrahim Bej Biçaku, Mehdi Bej Frashëri, and Rexhep Bej Mitrovica became successive Prime Minister under the Nazis.
  • Vichy France (1942–1944) - 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 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 Montenegro (1941–1944) - The régime founded by Sekule Drljević was an Italian puppet régime from 1941 to 1943 and a German puppet régime from 1943 to 1944. Drljević was the leader of the Montenegrin Federalists and formed the Provisional Administrative Committee of Montenegro.

New states formed to reflect national aspirations

  • Slovak Republic under the Slovak People's Party (1939–1945) - The Slovak Republic was a German client state. The Slovak People's Party was a clerofascist nationalist movement associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Monsignor Jozef Tiso became the president in a nominally independent Slovakia.
  • 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.

Puppet regimes under control of Germany and Italy

  • Greece (1941–1944) - The Hellenic State régime of Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis was a "collaborationist" puppet government[5] during the Axis occupation of Greece. Germany, Italy and Bulgaria occupied different portions of Greece at different times during these régimes.
  • the Government of National Salvation (1941–1944) - The government of General Milan Nedić and sometimes known as Nedić's Serbia was a German puppet régime operating in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia.[6]
  • Principality of Pindus and Voivodship of Macedonia (1941–1944) - Principality of Pindus and Voivodship of Macedonia (Principatu di la Pind) was an autonomous state set up under fascist Italian and Bulgarian control in northwest Greece and southern Yugoslavia. Alchiviad Diamandi di Samarina, Nicolau Matoussi and Gyula Cseszneky were its rulers.
  • Lokot Republic, Russia (1941–1943) - The Lokot Republic under Konstantin Voskoboinik and Bronislaw Kaminski was a semi-autonomous region in Nazi-occupied Russia under an all-Russian administration. The "republic" covered the area of several raions of Oryol and Kursk oblasts. It was directly associated with the Kaminski Brigade and the Russian Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Narodnaya Armiya or RONA).
  • 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).
  • Quisling's Norwegian National government (1942–1945) - The occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany started with all authority held by German Reich Commissioner (Reichskommissar) Josef Terboven, who exercised this through the Reichskommissariat Norwegen. The Norwegian pro-German fascist Vidkun Quisling had attempted a coup d'état against the Norwegian government during the German invasion on 9 April 1940, but he was not appointed by the Germans to head another native government until 1 February 1942.

The Italian Social Republic

  • 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 in 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.

Puppet States of Allied forces During and Post WWII

Puppet states of the Soviet Union

  • Tuvinian People's Republic, 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 Soviet puppet regime in those minor 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.
  • Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (1940) - In June 1940 the Republic of Estonia was occupied by the USSR and in July a puppet government proclaimed Soviet power.[7][8] In August 1940, Estonia was illegally annexed by the USSR.[9]
  • Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic (1940) - In June 1940 the Republic of Latvia was occupied by the USSR and in July a puppet government proclaimed Soviet power,[7] In August 1940, Latvia was illegally annexed by the USSR.[9]
  • Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (1940) - In June 1940 the Republic of Lithuania was occupied by the USSR and in July a puppet government proclaimed Soviet power,[7] In August 1940, Lithuania was illegally annexed by the USSR.[9]
  • Second East Turkestan Republic (1944–1949) - The Second East Turkestan Republic, usually known simply as the East Turkistan Republic (ETR), was a short-lived Soviet-backed separatist republic which existed in the 1940s in what is now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.
  • Azerbaijan People's Government (1945-1946)- A short-lived puppet state in Iranian Azerbaijan after WWII.[10]

As Soviet forces prevailed over the German Army on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, the Soviet Union supported the creation of communist governments in Eastern Europe. Specifically, the People's Republics in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland were dominated by the Soviet Union. While all of these People's Republics did not "officially" take power until after World War II ended, they all have roots in pro-Communist war-time governments. For example, Bulgaria's pro-Communist Fatherland Front seized power in Bulgaria on September 9, 1944. The Fatherland Front government was Soviet dominated and the direct predecessor of the People's Republic of Bulgaria (1946–1990). On the other hand, keeping with the Bulgarian example, it could be argued that the People's Republic of Bulgaria under Prime Minister Georgi Dimitrov (1946–1949) was far from being a Soviet puppet. On yet another hand, an argument for co-belligerence status could also be made for these states.

Puppet states of the United Kingdom

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 superior 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.

Decolonization and Cold 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.

Congo Crisis

Following Belgian Congo's independence as the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) in 1960, Belgian interests supported the short-lived breakaway state of Katanga (1960–1963).

East Asia during the Cold War

During the 1950–1953 Korean War, South Korea and the United States alleged that North Korea was a Soviet puppet state. At the same time, South Korea was accused of being an American puppet state by North Korea and its allies. Additionally, in 1951 Dean Rusk, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, branded the People's Republic of China a "Slavic Manchukuo", implying that it was a puppet state of the Soviet Union just as Manchukuo had been a puppet state of the Empire of Japan. This position was commonly taken by American propaganda of the 1950s, despite the fact that the Chinese communist movement had developed largely independently of the Soviet Union.

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 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, a surrogate 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.[11] 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 possibly President Kennedy.[12] During the Vietnam War, South Vietnam was allied with the U.S. and other anti-communist states in Asia and the West, whereas North Vietnam was allied with China, and particularly the Soviet Union, and with other socialist and communist nations. The Paris Peace Accords were preceded by months of intensive negotiations over whether the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam (Viet Cong) should be treated as an independent party or as a puppet of North Vietnam. However, South Vietnam was so heavily dependent on US military aid that when the aid terminated, the country collapsed and was taken over.

South Africa's Bantustans

During the 1970s and 1980s, four ethnic bantustans, some of which were extremely fragmented, were carved out of South Africa and given nominal sovereignty. Two (Ciskei and Transkei) were for the Xhosa people; and one each for the Tswana people (Bophuthatswana) and for the Venda people (Venda Republic).

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 were reincorporated into South Africa in 1994.

After the Cold War

Republic of Kuwait

The Republic of Kuwait was a short-lived pro-Ba'athist Iraq state in the Persian Gulf that only existed three weeks before it was annexed by Iraq.


Northern Cyprus

Due to Northern Cyprus' isolation and heavy dependence on Turkish support, Turkey has a high level of control over the country's decision-making processes. This has led to some experts stating that it runs as an effective puppet state of Turkey.[13][14][15] Few political decisions in Northern Cyprus are taken without the approval of the Turkish National Security council in Ankara.[16]

South Ossetia

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.[17]

See also


  1. Jowett, Phillip S. , Rays of The Rising Sun, Armed Forces of Japan’s Asian Allies 1931-45, Volume I: China & Manchuria, 2004. Helion & Co. Ltd., 26 Willow Rd., Solihul, West Midlands, England, pg.7-36.
  2. Jowett, Phillip S. , Rays of The Rising Sun, Armed Forces of Japan’s Asian Allies 1931-45, Volume I: China & Manchuria, 2004. Helion & Co. Ltd., 26 Willow Rd., Solihul, West Midlands, England, pg.49-57,88-89.
  3. Jowett, Phillip S. , Rays of The Rising Sun, Armed Forces of Japan’s Asian Allies 1931-45, Volume I: China & Manchuria, 2004. Helion & Co. Ltd., 26 Willow Rd., Solihul, West Midlands, England, pg.44-47,85-87.
  4. Jowett, Phillip S. , Rays of The Rising Sun, Armed Forces of Japan’s Asian Allies 1931-45, Volume I: China & Manchuria, 2004. Helion & Co. Ltd., 26 Willow Rd., Solihul, West Midlands, England, pg.63-89.
  5. ...managed to see the puppet Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Rallis through @ Sephardi Jewry: A History of the Judeo-Spanish Community, 14th-20th Centuries - Page 168
  6. Serbia also had a Nazi puppet regime headed by Milan Nedic @ The Balkanization of the West: The Confluence of Postmodernism and Postcommunism - Page 198
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Postcommunist States and Nations) David J. Smith from Front Matter ISBN 0-415-28580-1
  8. 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. ISBN 90-420-0890-3
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Mälksoo, Lauri (2003). Illegal Annexation and State Continuity: The Case of the Incorporation of the Baltic States by the USSR. Leiden – Boston: Brill. ISBN 90-411-2177-3. 
  10. Reza Shah Pahlavi :: Policies as shah. - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  11. Kinzer, Stephen (2006). Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. New York, New York: Times Books. pp. 153–156. ISBN 0-8050-7861-4. 
  12. Heller, Henry (2006). The Cold War and the New Imperialism. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press. pp. 168. ISBN 1-58367-139-0. 
  13. James, A. Sovereign statehood: The basis of international society." p. 142 [1]. Taylor and Francis, 1986, 288 pages. ISBN 0-04-320191-1.
  14. Kurtulus, E. State sovereignty: concept, phenomenon and ramifications. p. 136 [2]. Macmillan, 2005, 232 pages. ISBN 1-4039-6988-4.
  15. Kaczorowska, A. Public International Law. p. 190 [3]. Taylor and Francis, 2010, 944 pages. ISBN 0-415-56685-1.
  16. C. Cockburn. The line: women, partition, and the gender rols in Cyprus. p. 96 [4]. Zed Books, 2004, 244 pages. ISBN 1-84277-421-2.
  17. Times Online (11-Sep-2008). Retrieved on 21-Dec-2008.

Further reading

  • James Crawford. The creation of states in international law (1979)

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).