Cold War relations, 1945-91

Cold War relations, 1945-91

Start of the Cold War, 1945-47

  • Post-WWII tensions: Despite allied success in defeating the Axis, ideological differences between the capitalist USA and communist USSR triggered mutual suspicions.
  • Yalta and Potsdam conferences: Agreements regarding German reparations and post-war Europe contributed to early tensions.
  • Iron Curtain speech: Churchill’s 1946 speech emphasised the division of Europe into Western democracies and Eastern Communist countries.
  • Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan: The US offered financial support to nations under threat from Soviet communism, escalating tension.

Cold War Crises, 1948-61

  • Berlin Blockade and Airlift (1948-49): USSR blocked all routes to West Berlin, leading the US and UK to airlift supplies, illustrating Cold War tensions.
  • Formation of NATO and Warsaw Pact: Russia’s response to the creation of NATO was the Warsaw Pact, dividing Europe into two military alliances.
  • Hungarian Uprising (1956): A failed revolt against Soviet dominance, leading to considerable bloodshed and increased Cold War tensions.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis (1962): Brink of nuclear war due to USSR placing ballistic missiles in Cuba, leading to a 13-day stand-off with the USA.

Cold War Détente, 1962-79

  • Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963): Banned all test detonations of nuclear weapons except for those conducted underground.
  • Outer Space Treaty (1967): Prohibited placement of nuclear weapons in space and restricted the use of celestial bodies to peaceful purposes.
  • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT): Talks to limit the arms race between the USA and USSR.
  • Helsinki Accords (1975): An agreement to improve relations between the Communists and the West.

Return of Cold War Tensions, 1979-85

  • Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (1979): USSR invasion led the USA to believe that they were trying to expand their influence, which ended détente.
  • Boycott of 1980 Moscow Olympics: USA and allies boycott the Games due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
  • Reagan Doctrine (1981): USA would support anti-Communist movements worldwide, increasing tensions.

End of Cold War, 1985-91

  • Gorbachev’s policies: The introduction of Glasnost and Perestroika led to the easing of Cold War tensions.
  • Fall of Berlin Wall (1989): Symbolised the end of the Cold War as Germany reunited.
  • Dissolution of USSR (1991): Political and economic instability led to the official end of the USSR, marking the end of the Cold War.