The Cold War

  • Potsdam Agreement Signed

    The agreement between three of the Allies of World War II, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, for the military occupation and reconstruction of Germany. It also included Germany's demilitarisation, reparations and the prosecution of war criminals.
  • Soviet Invasion of Japan Ends

    As a result of the invasion, Japan surrendered and Korea was divided, leading to the Korean War.
  • United Nations Established

    The organization was created following the Second World War to prevent another such conflict and to promote international cooperation. The Soviet Union was able to make allies through the UN with newly devloped nations that joined.
  • Truman Doctrine Issued

    A US policy to stop Soviet expansion during the Cold War. President Truman pledged to contain communism in Europe and elsewhere and impelled the US to support any nation with both military and economic aid if its stability was threatened by communism or the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of the president's foreign policy and placed the U.S. in the role of global policeman.
  • Marshall Plan Signed

    The American initiative to aid Europe, in which the United States gave $13 billion in economic support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to prevent the spread of Soviet Communism. Stalin prevented Eastern bloc countries from receiving aid.
  • Republic of Korea Established in South Korea

    South Korea, supported by the U.S., elected Dr. Syngman Rhee, an anti-Communist, as the first president.
  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea Established in North Korea

    Aided by the Soviet Union, Kim Il-sung, a communist, was elected as prime minister.
  • NATO Established

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. It was established to fight the spread of communism.
  • People's Republic of China Established

    Mao Zedong declared the foundation of the People's Republic of China, adding a quarter of the world's population to the communist camp.
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    The Korean War

    A war between South Korea and North Korea, in which a United Nations force led by the United States of America fought for the South, and China fought for the North. The war arose from the division of Korea at the end of World War II and from the global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards. The outcome is indecisive, and little change was made to the border at the 38th parallel.
  • Joseph Stalin Dies

    After dying of a stroke, there was a power struggle to succeed him.
  • Nikita Khrushchev Becomes Leader of the Soviet Communist Party

    Khrushchev was responsible for the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy.
  • Warsaw Pact Established

    A collective defense treaty among eight communist states of Central and Eastern Europe in existence during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact was in part a Soviet military reaction to the integration of West Germanyinto NATO in 1955 but was primarily motivated by Soviet desires to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe.
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    The Vietnam War

    Fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States and other anti-communist allies. Resulted in a North Vietnamese victory, withdrawal of American-led forces, Communist takeover in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and the annexation South Vietnam by North Vietnam.
  • Sputnik 1 Launched

    The first man-made satellite. Launched by the USSR. Began the Space Race.
  • Fidel Castro Becomes Leader of Cuba

    Castro although refrains from declaring the country Communist. Cuban-inspired guerrilla movements spring up across Latin America.
  • John F. Kennedy Becomes President of the U.S.

  • Bay of Pigs Invasion Begins

    A CIA-backed invasion of Cuba by counter-revolutionaries; it ends in failure.
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    Berlin Wall in Effect

    The Wall separated communist East Germany and democratic West Germany. It barred people from Eastern Europe from defecting to the West. It was built to prevent East Germans from fleeing Communism and to stop an economically disastrous drain of workers.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis

    The Soviets had secretly been installing military bases, including nuclear weapons, on Cuba. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of the island that intensified the crisis and brought the US and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war. In the compromise, the Soviets agreed to withdraw their nuclear missiles from Cuba, in exchange for a secret agreement by Kennedy pledging to withdraw similar American missiles from Turkey, and guaranteeing that the US will not move against the Castro regime.
  • Apollo 11 Moon Landing

    The U.S. accomplishes the first manned moon landing, Apollo 11. Manned by Neil Armstrong, "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins. It was the culminating point of the Space Race.
  • The Watergate Scandal

    A break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration's resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis.
  • President Nixon Resigns

    In light of his loss of political support and the near-certainty of impeachment because of the Watergate Scandal, Nixon resigned the office of the presidency. Gerald Ford became president.
  • The United States and its Allies Boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow

  • Caribbean Basin Initiative

    President Ronald Reagan announces the "Caribbean Basin Initiative" to prevent the overthrow of governments in the region by the forces of communism.
  • Civilian Korean Air Lines Flight 007 Shot Down

    The aircraft with 269 passengers, including U.S. Congressman Larry McDonald, is shot down by a Soviet interceptor aircraft.
  • Allies of the Soviet Union Boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles

  • Mikhail Gorbachev Becomes Leader of the Soviet Union

    Gorbachev's policies of glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring") as well as summit conferences with United States President Ronald Reagan and his reorientation of Soviet strategic aims contributed to the end of the Cold War, removed the constitutional role of the Communist Party in governing the state, and inadvertently led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
  • Revolutions of Eastern Europe

    Soviet reforms and their state of bankruptcy allowed Eastern Europe to rise up against the Communist governments in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania.
  • Boris Yeltsin Elected as President of Russia

    Yeltsin vowed to transform Russia's socialist command economy into a free market economy and implemented economic shock therapy, price liberalization and privatization programs.
  • Germany Reunified

    East and West Germany were reunified with the Two Plus Four Agreement (Two=East and West Germany, Four=Soviet Union, United States, United Kingdom, France). In the treaty the Four Powers renounced all rights they held in Germany, allowing a united Germany to become fully sovereign the following year.
  • Warsaw Pact Dissolved

  • "End" of the Cold War

    U.S. President George H. W. Bush, after receiving a phone call from Boris Yeltsin, delivers a Christmas Day speech acknowledging the end of the Cold War. Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the USSR, and the hammer and sickle is lowered for the last time over the Kremlin.
  • Dissolution of the Soviet Union

    Acknowledged the independence of the twelve republics of the Soviet Union and created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
  • Bombardment of Yugoslavia

    NATO, led by the United States, launched the bombardment of Yugoslavia. The strikes were not limited to military installations and NATO targets included civilian targets such as factories, oil refineries, television stations and various infrastructure. It was strongly opposed by both Russia and China.
  • Bush and Putin Meet at Sochi

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush failed to resolve their differences over U.S. plans for the planned missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bush told that Russia will not be able to veto Georgia's or Ukraine's inclusion into NATO.
  • Dmitry Medvedev Becomes President of Russia

    Medvedev won the 2008 presidential election and appointed Vladimir Putin as Prime Minister, beginning a period of so-called "tandemocracy," or duumvirate.
  • Sergei Magnitsky Imprisoned

    Magnitsky had alleged there had been a large-scale theft from the Russian state sanctioned and carried out by Russian officials. He was arrested and eventually died in prison seven days before the expiration of the one-year term during which he could be legally held without trial. In total, Magnitsky served 358 days in Moscow's notorious Butyrka prison. He developed gall stones, pancreatitis and a blocked gall bladder and received inadequate medical care. He was beaten up just before he died.
  • Vladimir Putin Becomes President of Russia

    Medvedev and Putin swapped jobs, with Putin retaking his old position of president which Medvedev had held for four years (because Putin was constitutionally barred from having a third term in a row). This kept the United Russia political party in power.
  • Magnitsky Act Passed by U.S. Congress

    The main intention of the law was to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and use of their banking system.
  • Russia Bans Adoption of Russian Children in the U.S.

    In response to adoption of the Magnitsky Act, Russian government denied Americans adoption of Russian children, issued a list of US officials prohibited from entering Russia, and posthumously convicted Magnitsky as guilty.
  • Ukrainian Crisis Begins

    Russia has rejected the legitimacy of the interim Ukrainian government in favor of ousted-President Viktor Yanukovych. It sent in troops to Crimea. NATO condemns Russian involvement.