The Soviet Union was one
of the most powerful and most feared nations in the world from the
end of World War Two until it literally fell apart in the early
1990s. The term "Soviet Union" was the shortened phrase for the
official name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
The Soviet Union was ruled by the Soviet Commuist Party, which
took power in the bloody Russian Revolution during World War One.
The Communists were then known as the Bolsheviks. The early
Bolsheviks were led by the revolutionary leader, Vladimir
consolidated their power over most of the old Czarist Russian
Empire in the Russian Civil War, which lasted from 1917 to 1923.
Several regions broke away from Russia in the chaos of the
Revolution, and several new nations achieved independence from the
Russians and Bolsheviks. These nations included Poland, Finland,
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Other regions attempted to achieve
independence, but failed under pressure from the Bolshevik "Red"
Army of the new Communist government. These areas included
Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, and the Muslim regions of Central
The new Communist
government of Vladimir Lenin renamed the country the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics. This was often shortened to USSR, or
the Soviet Union. In the years following World War One and the
Russian Revolution, the Soviets attempted to export Communist
revolutions to nearby nations, including Germany, Finland,
Hungary, and Mongolia. These attempts to spread revolution helped
cause severe hostility between most of Europe and the Soviets.
War Two, with
the Soviet Union on the side of the victorious Allies, the Soviet
armies occupied most of Eastern Europe, and effectively controlled
over half of Europe until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when
Communism fell in Eastern Europe and eventually in the Soviet
From 1945 to the fall of
the Soviet state, the Soviet Union, its allies and satellite
states engaged in a very dangerous conflict with the United States
and the other Western allies called "The Cold War."
War ( Dec.
war between Poland and Russia/The Soviet Union.
War (Feb. 15
– March 17 1921)
Invasion of Armenia
Invasion of Manchuria
(1929) -Border clash with Chinese Warlords in
Invasion of Xinjiang
(1934)--Soviet troops intervened in the Chinese Civil War to
aid a pro-Soviet Warlord under attack by Chinese Nationalist
(1936-1939) -The Soviet Union provided extensive material
support and sent military advisors to aid the Spanish Republican
forces in their civil war with the Spanish Nationalists. This was
a proxy war between the Soviets on the one hand and Nazi Germany
and Fascist Italy, who supported the Nationalists.
Border Wars (1938-1939)
of Lake Khasan (July
29, 1938 – August 11, 1938)-- Also known as the
Changkufeng Incident. Japanese forces moved into
Soviet-controlled territory on the border of Japanese-occupied
Manchuria. Both sides suffered several hundred
of Khalkhin Gol (1939)
also known as the Nomonhan Incident. Very large and bloody
battle (Soviet casualties: at least 7,974 killed and 15,251
wounded. Japanese casualties: 8,440 killed, with 8,766
wounded.) Some historians consider this battle very significant
given that Stalin now knew his troops could handle the
Japanese, and the Soviet victory at Khalkhin Gol ensured that
Japan would not intervene when the Soviet Union joined the new
European war in Poland on September 17, 1939.
Winter War: The Soviet Attack on Finland (Nov. 30, 1939-March 1,
Soviets sought territory from Finland, and the right to establish
military bases on Finnish islands, as well as on the Finnish
mainland. Finland rejected the Soviet demand for Finnish land,
and, on November 30, 1939, without a formal declaration of war,
the Soviet air force launched aerial bombardment of the Finnish
capital of Helsinki as well as the city of Viipuri. That same day,
Soviet armies totaling nearly a 1,000,000 men invaded Finland.
After a ferocious defense, the Finns fell under the weight of the
superior Soviet numbers.
Occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union,
which effectively divided Eastern Europe between them, the Soviets
issued an ultimatum to Romania to surrender the regions of
Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. Faced with the threat of a
Soviet invasion, Romania surrendered the regions to the Soviets
without a fight.
(and Soviet) Invasion of Poland (September
1, 1939-October 6, 1939)--Germany invaded Poland on September 1,
and Britain, France, and Canada, declared war on Germany on
September 3. The Soviet Union joined the war on Germany's side on
September 17, with the Soviet
Invasion of Poland
from the east. The German Invasion of Poland (called Operation
Case White/Unternehmen Fall Weiss by the Germans), marks the
beginning of World War Two in Europe.
(1956)--Polish uprising against Soviet domination. The Poles
were crushed by the Soviets.
(1956)--Hungarian uprising against Soviet domination. The
Hungarians were crushed by the Soviets.
Invasion of Czechoslovakia
(1968)--Reformist Czech government overthrown by Warsaw Pact
invasion led by the Soviets.
Invasion and Occupation of
(1979-1989)--Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan to prop up the
Communist Afghan government in its war against Islamic
R. Ernest, Dupuy, and
Dupuy Trevor N. The
Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. To The
York: Harper & Row, 1970.
York: Facts On File Publications, 1999.
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