The Soviet Union, Russia, and the Independent Nations of the Former Soviet Union: 1945–Present
The Russian Revolution of 1917 launched the largest political and social experiment ever undertaken—the formation of the Soviet Union. Under the direction of the Communist Party, there was tremendous economic growth in the 1930s.With victory over the German Army in World War II, the Soviet Union became second in power only to the United States.
Following World War II, the Soviet Union regained most of the territory that had been a part of imperial Russia before 1913. The three Baltic republics—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—were brought under Soviet control. Portions of eastern Poland, Moldova, and Bessarabia were seized from Romania. In addition, the northern part of East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, a small piece of Russian territory facing the Baltic Sea, between presentday Poland and Lithuania) fell under Russian rule for the first time. So did the Czechoslovakian province of Ruthenia (the “toe” of Czechoslovakia). Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands in the Far East were retaken from Japan. A small portion of the Mongolian Peoples' Republic, Tuva, was also annexed to the Soviet Union. The biggest changes in the nation's frontiers took place in the west. Soviet leaders considered that region a “danger zone,” because two German invasions had already occurred there in the twentieth century.
In December 1991, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) replaced the Soviet Union. Today, of all the former Soviet territories, only the Baltic states have not joined and perhaps never will. The CIS has a population of 280 million people and an area of 8.5 million square miles (13.7 million square kilometers). Tumultuous political antagonisms continue within many of the new nations. There, constant political turmoil is due to fragmented opposition groups, old-style Communist Party organizations, and the economic legacy of 70 years of failed central planning. Ongoing economic reforms within Russia will be critical to the future of all the new CIS nations.
- Revolutionary and Soviet Russia: 1877–1945
- Reform and Autocracy: 1801–1876
- Catherine the Great’s Russia: 1762–1796
- Romanov Succesion: 1726–1762
- Peter the Great’s Russia: 1690–1725
- Romanov Russia: 1599–1689
- Moscovite Russia: 1463–1598
- Moscovite Rus: 1147–1462
- Environmental concerns and preservation