The Cold War was a global confrontation between the two military and political blocs led by the Soviet Union and the United States, which did not come down to an open military conflict. The concept of the "cold war" appeared in journalism in 1945-1947 and gradually stuck in the political dictionary.
After the Second World War, the world was actually divided into the spheres of influence of two blocks with different social systems. The Soviet Union and the United States have sought to expand their spheres of influence. But the rough equality of forces between the blocks, and then the real threat of nuclear destruction of the world in case of real war between the USSR and the United States held the rulers of the two superpowers from the direct collision. This gave birth to the "cold war", the conflict that has not resulted in new world war, although constantly led to wars in some countries and regions (local wars).
Immediate start of the "cold war" was due to the conflicts in Europe and Asia. After World War II the Soviet sphere of influence expanded rapidly, causing fears of Western leaders - former allies of the USSR in the anti-Hitler coalition.
In 1946-1947 the Soviet Union stepped up pressure on Greece and Turkey. In Greece, there was a civil war, and the Soviet Union demanded from Turkey the territory for a military base in the Mediterranean. In turn, Truman announced its readiness to implement the "containment" of the USSR in the world. This position was called the "Truman Doctrine" and meant the termination of cooperation between the winners of fascism. The ''Cold War'' began.
But the front of the "Cold War" laid not between countries but even within them. About a third of the population of France and Italy supported the Communist Party. Poverty of war-ravaged Europeans was the breeding ground for the success of the Communists. In 1947, US Secretary of State George Marshall announced that the US are ready to provide financial assistance to countries in Europe for economic recovery. Initially, even the Soviet Union was involved in negotiations to provide assistance, but it soon became clear that American aid will not be provided to countries in which there were communists in power. The United States demanded political concessions in exchange for economic aid: the communists should be withdrawn from their governments. Under the american pressure, the Communists were expelled from the governments of France and Italy, and in April 1948, 16 countries signed the Marshall Plan to provide them with $ 17 billion in 1948-1952. Eastern European countries did not participate in the plan, forming a group of the socialist system (only Yugoslavia under the leadership of Tito did not join neither the East nor the West). In January 1949, most Eastern European countries came together in an economic union - the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance.
These events consolidated the division of Europe. In April 1949 the United States, Canada and several countries in Western Europe have created a military alliance - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Soviet Union and Eastern European countries responded in 1955 by creating their military alliance - the Warsaw Pact. Especially hard the division of Europe was for Germany: the split line passed through the territory of the country. East Germany was occupied by the Soviet Union, the West - by USA, Britain and France. In their hands also was the western part of Berlin. In 1948, West Germany was included in the scope of the Marshall Plan, and the east was not. In different parts of the country have formed different economic systems, which hampered the country's unification. In May 1949 the lands in the western zone of occupation, were united in the Federal Republic of Germany. West Berlin became an autonomous self-governing city associated with this state. In October 1949 in the Soviet occupation zone was created German Democratic Republic.
The rivalry of the USSR and the United States inevitably led to the arms race. Opponents sought to achieve excellence in the field of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Soon, in addition to the bombers, missiles became a part of that system. That is how the race of nuclear missiles, which led to an extreme strain on the economy of both blocks, started. Initially, a leader in the race were the United States, which had already possessed nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union has made an effort to create its own atomic bomb and in 1949 it tested own one. The presence of a bomb in the USSR kept the United States from the use of nuclear weapons in Korea, although this possibility was discussed by high-ranking US military.
The first clash between the two systems occurred in China - the largest country by population in the world. After the Second World War, north-east of China, occupied by the Soviet Army, was transferred to the People's Liberation Army (PLA), a subject of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The PLA had Japanese weapons captured by Soviet troops. The rest of the country was controlled by the government of the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek. Originally was scheduled to hold national elections in China, which were to decide who would rule the country. But both sides were not confident in victory, and instead of elections in 1946-1949 the civil war broke out. The winner was the CPC led by Mao Zedong.
The second major clash between the two systems in Asia took place in Korea. After World War II, the country was split into two zones of occupation - the Soviet and the American. In 1948, the Soviet Union and the United States withdrew its troops, leaving its proteges in Korea - pro-Soviet President Kim Il Sung in the north and pro-American Rhee Syng-man the south. Each of them tried to grab the whole country. In June 1950, war broke out in Korea, which involved the United States, China and other countries. During this war, Soviet pilots first met with the US ones in the Asian sky. Despite the great sacrifices on both sides, the war ended almost at the same positions, where it began.
But the countries of the West suffered defeat in colonial wars - France lost in Vietnam, 1946-1954, and the Netherlands - in Indonesia in 1947-1949.
The"Cold War" led to the fact that in both "camps" the repression was turned against dissidents and people who supported the cooperation and convergence of the two systems. In the USSR and Eastern Europe people were arrested on charges of "cosmopolitanism" (lack of patriotism, cooperation with the West). In the United States began a "witch hunt" in which were "exposed" secret Communists and "agents" of the USSR. American "witch-hunt", opposed to Stalin's repressions, did not led to massive repression, but it had its casualties caused by spy mania.
In March 1953 Stalin died, and the new Soviet leadership headed by Khrushchev started seeking ways to normalize relations with the West. In 1953-1954 were stopped wars in Korea and Vietnam. In 1955, the Soviet Union established equal relations with Yugoslavia and Germany. The Great Powers have also agreed to provide a neutral status of the occupied Austria and to withdraw its troops from the country. In 1956, the world situation was worsened again in connection with the unrest in the socialist countries and attempts to UK, France and Israel to seize the Suez Canal in Egypt. But this time the two "superpowers" - the Soviet Union and the United States - made efforts to ensure that conflicts would not grow. In 1959, Khrushchev came to the US, it was the first ever visit of the Soviet leader to America. American society greatly impressed him, especially its successes in agriculture, much more efficient than in the USSR.
However, by this time, the Soviet Union could make an impression on USA and all over the world by its success in the field of high technology, and above all - in space exploration. The system of state socialism allowed to concentrate more resources on solving one problem at the expense of others. October 4, 1957 in the Soviet Union launched the first artificial Earth satellite. From now, Soviet missile could deliver the goods, including a nuclear device, anywhere in the world. April 12, 1961 the Soviet Union launched into space ship with a man on board. Yuri Gagarin became the first cosmonaut.
In 1960, relations between the USSR and the USA were again deteriorated. 1 May, shortly before the Soviet-American summit, the United States sent in flight over the territory of the USSR spy plane U-2. He flew at altitudes not reached by Soviet fighters, but was shot down by a missile straight during a May Day demonstration in Moscow. It was a scandal. At the summit Khrushchev waited for an apology from Eisenhower. Not receiving them, he interrupted a meeting with the president.
The new US president John F. Kennedy attempted to overthrow the pro-Communist regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba. This operation was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Americans hoped to overthrow Castro by hands of the Cubans, but landing of the counterrevolutionaries in Cuba ended with their complete defeat. Kennedy did not have time to recover from this defeat, as he caught a new crisis. At the first meeting with the new American president in April 1961, Khrushchev demanded to change the status of West Berlin. Kennedy refused to make concessions to the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, which led to the Berlin crisis. GDR authorities in August 1961 surrounded West Berlin by a wall, which became a symbol of the division of Europe and Germany into two hostile parts, a symbol of the "cold war."
Going to a dangerous point, the "cold war" began to decline. The Soviet Union and the United States first talked about limiting the arms race. August 15, 1963 both parties signed an agreement on banning nuclear weapons tests in three environments: in the atmosphere, in space and in the water.
Conclusion of the treaty in 1963 did not mean the end of the "cold war". In the next year, after the death of President Kennedy, the rivalry of the two blocks worsened. But now it has been supplanted away from the borders of the USSR and the United States - in the south-east Asia, where began the war in Indochina.
In 60th international situation changed dramatically. Both superpowers were faced with great difficulties: the US is bogged down in Indochina, and the USSR was involved in a conflict with China. As a result, both superpowers chose to move from the "cold war" to the policy of gradual détente ("discharge"). During the period of "détente" were signed important agreements on limiting the arms race, including agreements to limit missile defense (BMD) and strategic nuclear weapons (SALT-1 and SALT-2). However, the SALT treaties had a significant drawback. Limiting the total volume of nuclear weapons and missile technology, they hardly touched the deployment of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, opponents could concentrate a large number of nuclear missiles in the most dangerous places in the world, even without violating the agreed total volume of nuclear weapons.
Finally discharge was buried by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. "Cold War" has resumed. In 1980-1982 the United States entered a serie of economic sanctions against the Soviet Union. In 1983, US President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and start the installation of new US missiles in Europe. In response, the General Secretary of the CPSU Yuri Andropov stopped all negotiations with the United States.
In these circumstances, the US president decided to "push" on the weakening USSR. In 1983, US President Ronald Reagan proposed the idea of "Strategic Defense Initiative" (SDI) or "Star Wars" - a space system that could protect the United States from nuclear attack. This program was carried out in circumvention of the ABM Treaty. The USSR did not have the technical capabilities to create the same system. Despite the fact that the United States also were far from success in this area and the idea was to force the SDI USSR wasting resources, the Soviet leaders embraced it seriously. With great effort was created space system "Buran", the ability to neutralize the elements of SDI. Together with external, internal factors significantly undermined the system of socialism. The economic crisis, which turned the USSR, put on the agenda the question of "saving on foreign policy." In March 1985 to power in the Soviet Union came a new CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1985-1986, he proclaimed a policy of broad reforms, known as "perestroika". Cover and improving relations with the capitalist countries on the basis of equality and openness ("new thinking"). In November 1985, Gorbachev met with Reagan in Geneva and offered significantly reduce nuclear weapons in Europe. Despite the fact that significant changes at this meeting could not be reached, the two presidents to know each other, which helped them to negotiate in the future. In the summer, both sides began to explore opportunities for "second Geneva", which took place in October 1986 Reykjavik. In 1986, the US administration has refused frontal attack on the Soviet Union, which ended in failure. However, there was a stronger financial pressure on the Soviet Union, the United States in exchange for various concessions persuaded the Saudi authorities about a sharp increase in oil production and reduce world oil prices. Revenues of the Soviet Union depended on oil prices, which were cool to fall in 1986. The Chernobyl disaster has seriously undermined the financial equilibrium of the USSR. This made it difficult to reform the country's "top" and made more actively encourage the initiative from below. Gradually gave way to authoritarian modernization of the civil revolution. Already in 1987-1988 "restructuring" has led to the rapid growth of social activity, the world was in full swing for an end to the "cold war." After an unsuccessful meeting in Reykjavik in 1986, the two presidents finally came to an agreement in Washington in December 1987, by which American and Soviet medium-range missiles were removed from Europe. "New Thinking" triumphed. The most important crisis, which led to the resumption of the "cold war" in 1979, is gone. It was followed by other "fronts" of the "cold war", including the main one - European. An example of the Soviet "perestroika" intensified anti-socialist movements in Eastern Europe. In 1989 conversion conducted by the Communists in Eastern Europe, grew into a revolution. Together with the Communist regime in East Germany was destroyed and the Berlin Wall, which became a symbol of the termination of the division of Europe. By that time, faced a severe economic problems, the Soviet Union could no longer support the communist regimes, the socialist camp collapsed. In December 1988, Gorbachev said at the UN on the unilateral reduction of the army. In February 1989, Soviet troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan. In December 1989 off the coast of Malta, Gorbachev and the new US President George W. Bush discussed the situation of the actual termination of the "cold war." Despite the persistence of disagreement about the situation in some countries, including the Baltic States, the atmosphere of the "cold war" was already a thing of the past.
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