Among the strategic consequences of Khrushchev's policy should be called the elimination of the military presence of the USSR in almost all countries of the Balkan region - participants in the Warsaw Pact. And this happened even before the resignation of Khrushchev. And it's not just the notorious anti-Stalinist decisions of the 20th and 22nd CPSU congresses, which were rejected behind the scenes or publicly by these countries. But also in the unceremonious attempts of the Khrushchev leadership to impose their foreign policy line on the Balkan countries.
One way or another, but at the turn of the 50s and 60s, the military-political positions of the USSR in the Balkans were significantly weakened. In contrast to the growing influence of the United States and NATO in the same countries. The process began in Albania. Since 1955, the USSR had virtually extraterritorial rights to a naval base near the port of Vlore, which is near Greece and Italy, separated from it by the narrow 60-kilometer Otrant Strait. This base made it possible to control NATO's maritime communications in the Adriatic, in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean.
The USSR received the right to use the Vlora port and its water area back in 1950, in connection with the plans of Yugoslavia and Greece to divide the friendly USSR Albania. At the same time, the ports of Tito Yugoslavia were actually under Soviet supervision from Vlora. The need for such control was caused by the fact that already in 1951 Yugoslavia entered into an open-ended agreement with the United States "On ensuring security." We must not forget that the treaty was valid until the collapse of the SFRY, and in particular, it allowed the American Air Force and Navy to “visit” the airspace and seaports of Yugoslavia without restrictions.
It would seem that Moscow should have protected the Vlora base no matter what. But alas, Khrushchev and his ideological associates decided to demand from Tirana unconditional submission to the anti-Stalinist policy of Moscow. In parallel with this, Albania was imposed the role of a purely raw material appendage of the USSR and other countries of the Warsaw Pact.
During a visit to Albania in May 1959, Khrushchev instructed Enver Hoxha in edifying terms: “Why are you trying to work hard, building industrial enterprises? Stalin saw Albania as a miniature copy of the USSR in terms of industry and energy, but this is superfluous: all that Albania needs in this regard, we and other countries will supply you. Resorts, citrus fruits, olives, melons, tea, oil, non-ferrous metal ores - this should be the focus of your economy and your exports."
At the same time, Khrushchev refused Albania and new soft loans for industrialization, advising Tirana to revise its internal and external economic policy: "Then you can get new loans on the same terms." At the same time, Nikita Sergeevich proposed transforming not only the Vlora base, but also the area adjacent to it into a kind of British Gibraltar or extraterritorial Okinawa in Japan - an island “stuffed” with US military facilities to the limit. The USSR even offered Albania substantial compensation, but Enver Hoxha refused.
Khrushchev was clearly annoyed by the fact that, as he told Khoja: “You have too many monuments to Stalin, avenues, enterprises named after him, and even the city of Stalin. So you are against the decisions of the 20th Congress of our Party? Then just say so, and then we will think about what to do next."
The first secretary of the Party Central Committee also appealed to the fact that at the 21st Congress of the CPSU in February 1959, contrary to expectations, in his speech, Enver Hoxha did not express direct disagreement with those decisions, but now actually began to show ideological separatism. However, it must be borne in mind that at that time Tirana was not yet sure of the support of Albania from the PRC. But already in March 1959, when the Albanian leaders Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu met with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in Beijing, the latter assured the Albanians that the PRC would provide all possible support to Albania.
A strong Albanian-Chinese alliance lasted until 1977 inclusive …
As for the Vlora base itself, at the end of the 1950s there was a brigade of 12 Soviet submarines, quite modern for that time. Hence, during the Suez crisis, it was planned to strike at the British and French troops in October-November 1956 in the event of their capture of Cairo or Alexandria. And it was from Vlora that Soviet military assistance to Syria was planned in the fall of 1957 in the event of an invasion of Turkey there.
At the same time, none of Khrushchev-inspired attempts to change the Albanian leadership at the turn of 1960 and 1961 succeeded in Tirana. A series of plenums of the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labor proved to be a failure for the Soviet leader. In addition, I. B. Tito, a new friend of Khrushchev, refused to support the Soviet plan to organize an airborne assault on Tirana via Yugoslavia.
At the same time, Belgrade was offered to become the "first" in such an operation, which would probably provoke military clashes on the border with Albania. And after that, in order to strengthen the southern flank of the Warsaw Pact, the USSR will undertake the "operation to protect Albania" prepared by Khrushchev's associates from the special services. At the same time, it was planned to blockade the Albanian coast by Soviet warships based in Vlore.
Yugoslavia was interested in the development of the Albanian-Soviet contradictions by the factor of political geography. Therefore, Khrushchev's calculation that his friendship with Marshal Tito on the basis of outright anti-Stalinism would be more important for that than anything else was not justified. Be that as it may, Josip Broz Tito did not live up to Khrushchev's hopes that an outright rejection of Stalinist Albania was equally important to them. Worse, the details of the Soviet plan were promptly communicated from Belgrade to Tirana. And Enver Hoxha thanked JB Tito with a short telegram: "Thank you, Marshal, for your decency."
The situation with the Albanian base eventually ended in the conflict between Albania and the USSR. In the fall of 1961, an urgent evacuation of Vlora followed. By that time, more precisely, from June 1961, the territory of the base was already blocked by Albanian troops and special services. Four Soviet submarines, which were being repaired in the ports of Vlore and Durres, were captured by the Albanians that summer.
Such bold actions of Tirana were due not only to the aforementioned position of Yugoslavia and the fact that the PRC had already expressed its readiness to help Albania in the event of a direct conflict with the USSR. This happened during the visit of the PRC Premier Zhou Enlai to Tirana in May 1961. The neighboring NATO countries, Greece and Italy, were also interested in removing the Soviet military base from Vlora, or rather, in the “withdrawal” of Albania from the military-political influence of Moscow. Therefore, in a number of Western media at that time, they almost admired "little Albania, which dared to throw the glove at Moscow in the Stalinist manner."
In turn, Marshal Tito advised Khrushchev, taking into account the above factors, to nevertheless yield to Enver Hoxha on the issue of the Vlora base. This is understandable: the preservation of the Soviet military presence in Albania was by no means in the interests of Yugoslavia. This is how the USSR lost its most important outpost in the Adriatic and the whole Mediterranean.
At the same time, Moscow for some reason very recklessly hoped that Yugoslavia could and almost should become a kind of replacement for Albania. And all this is only thanks to, we repeat, the confidential personal relationship between Khrushchev and Tito. Although the transparent "hints" made by the Soviet leader to the Marshal in June 1956 in Moscow about the possibility of the Soviet Navy using any Adriatic bases in Yugoslavia remained unanswered.
The probing by the Minister of Defense of the USSR Marshal G. K. Zhukov of the same question during his visit to Yugoslavia in October 1957, alas, also suffered a fiasco: "We are not yet ready to consider this question" - that was Tito's answer (i.e. not only decide, but even consider). New attempts of this kind were undertaken in the early 1960s during the increasingly frequent meetings between Khrushchev and Tito, but with the same "success." This was all the more inevitable, since Yugoslavia was already one of the leaders of the already forgotten Non-Aligned Movement, proclaimed in 1961.
The same fate befell the proposal made by the USSR in 1957 to establish joint military or reconnaissance facilities on the former Italian islands of Palagruzha or Yabuka in the central Adriatic. At the insistence of the USSR, they were transferred to Yugoslavia back in 1947, and the very geographical position of these islands opened up real opportunities to control the entire Adriatic. However, Belgrade also refused Moscow this issue.
Despite the fact that Marshal JB Tito developed quite friendly relations with the new Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev, Yugoslavia did not revise its position on "basic" ideological and economic issues. And the next strikes on the Balkan outposts of the USSR were the forced withdrawal of Soviet troops from Romania and an almost complete repetition of the same situation in Bulgaria, which happened at the turn of the 50s and 60s.