Cold War Timeline


Cold War

Approx. 1945 - December 26, 1991

The Cold War was more of a political war than a physical war between the Soviets and the U.S. and MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction due to Atomic weapons being developed was a globally known concept at the time due to the shocking power demonstrated by the U.S. near the end of World War II. Gorbachev started an Arms race with the U.S. while President Reagan was in office leading to the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; Perestroika and Glasnost, both concepts created by Gorbachev the last leader of the Soviet Union, both led to the dissolution of the USSR and as such the Cold War ended.

Iron Curtain Speech

Approx. March 5, 1946

The Iron Curtain Speech was a speech that stated that an "iron curtain" or a divider between soviet influenced areas and non-soviet influenced areas was created as the Soviets tried to cut off contact with the west in order to maintain control over their own territories by stopping exposure to western ideals. It also represented the Domino Theory wherein as the Soviet Sphere of influence increased or the iron curtain area increased more destabilized countries would take part in communism. Later in 1979 the Iron Lady or Margaret Thatcher continued a legacy as essentially a "war leader" of Great Britain who helped to stabilize the country's economy and secure its borders.

Berlin Airlift (Berlin Blockade)

Approx. June 1948 - Approx. May 31, 1949

The Berlin Airlift was a move done by the allied powers wherein after the Russians had closed off all entrances to the city of Berlin by land they hoped to suffocate and starve the people in the allied powers sections thereby 'causing the allied powers to retreat in order to save the people. This led the allied powers to send supplies via plane to their respective sections and circumvent the blockade. This infuriated the Russians who ended the blockade after roughly one year due to not preventing the turn of the West side to the Russians and due to not stopping the creation of a unified Western Berlin. Around this time in 1948 to 1951 the Marshall Plan was going into effect as well which was stabilizing the economies of European countries which also may have played a part in the Berlin Airlift's success.

NATO Formed/ NATO Existence

April 4, 1949 - Present

NATO was formed specifically to provide collective defense against the Soviet Union. This was the U.S.'s first peacetime military alliance that they joined that was not in the Western hemisphere.

Korean War

June 25, 1950 - Approx. July, 1953

The Korean War started after North Korea crossed the border in South Korean territory. Under the Truman Doctrine, the U.S. saw the need to help fight North Korea otherwise they could spread communism to the lands that they conquered. In 1953 the Korean War ended but the two states have been divided ever since.

Warsaw Pact Formed

May 14, 1955 - December 26, 1991

The Warsaw Pact was a pact between nations similar to NATO but different in that it provided a defense against the allied forces instead. It stated that if one of the nations was ever attacked that was in the Warsaw pact then the Soviet Union would rush to its aid instantly. This pact dissolved around the same time that the Soviet Union dissolved near the end of the Cold War.

Vietnam War

November 01, 1955 - April 30, 1975

The Vietnam War was another war against the Communist North versus the Non-Communist South. It ended in the unification of Vietnam under Communist forces and was a crushing blow against the U.S. especially against President Lyndon B. Johnson as even though he increased U.S. involvement in Vietnam his methods failed miserably.


October 4, 1957 - October 27, 1957

Sputnik was the first man made satellite in space and it was set there by the Soviets which was a result of the Space Race. It helped spur space development as well and acted as another psuedo-war within the cold war or as a political power struggle.

Khrushchev Rules the USSR

Approx. March 1958 - Approx. 1964

Khrushchev took control a couple of years after Stalin and commenced the process of de-Stalinization wherein it destroyed Stalin's reputation and brought back Leninist policies within the party. He also 'caused the Cuban Missile Crisis and approved the construction of the Berlin Wall which led to several large repercussions in the following years.

U2 Plane Shot Down

May 01, 1960 - Approx. May 01, 1960

The U2 Plane Incident occurred when an American Spy plane was shot down while doing reconnaissance in Soviet Air Space under command from President Eisenhower. It 'caused a diplomatic incident wherein Eisenhower was confronted with evidence of his nation's espionage and then later it resulted in the first ever spy trade. It also raised tensions between the U.S. and the USSR.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 15, 1961 - Approx. April 17, 1961

Prior to the Bay of Pigs Invasion, John F. Kennedy was briefed on a plan to amass a small army of Cuban exiles in order to overthrow the communist government of Cuba led by Fidel Castro. After several months of training the battle began and was commenced initially via air raids aimed at destroying Cuba's air force, this proved disastrous as Cuba knew about the air raids and they easily avoided them. 2 days later the Cuban exiles began their invasion on an isolated area known as the Bay of Pigs, their location was quickly announced due to a previously unknown communications tower and they were defeated after only a day of battle due to mislandings of paratroopers and being discovered quickly.

Berlin Wall Built and Taken Down

August 13, 1961 - Approx. November 10, 1989

The Berlin Wall initially was just barbed wire that ran for 30 miles and served to separate the East and West sides of Berlin. The Soviets in order to stop their own people from leaving East Berlin then erected concrete walls and reduced the number of exit and entry points. After several years, a diplomat from East Berlin stated that they would be lessening restrictions on passage into the West and later due to pressures from people and confusion among guards as to what the policy was for passage across the Berlin Wall, the peoples tore down the wall thus leading to the end of the Berlin Wall.

Cuban Missile Crisis

October 14, 1962 - October 28, 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the event wherein the Cuban government started to place several missiles that could reach the United States within a couple of minutes. The U.S. subsequently began a series of negotiations with the Soviets in order to decommission these Missiles. The agreement was reached when the U.S. made a secret deal to decommission their own Jupiter Missiles in exchange for the Cubans.

Moon Landing

July 20, 1969 - Approx. July 20, 1969

The Moon Landing was prompted by the Space Race against the Soviets after the U.S. announced that they would set satellites in space and the Soviets beat them to it prompting the U.S. to engage otherwise they risk losing political power. Richard Nixon then accelerated the space race as much as he could which cultivated in the Moon Landing.


November 17, 1969 - May 26, 1972

The SALT talks were intended to freeze the existing amount of Strategic Ballistic Missile Launchers at existing levels. It also made it so that if either side increased their numbers of weapons then the other side was allowed to increase theirs by the same amount. Richard Nixon signed a deal known as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which limited the amount of ABM's they could have at any given time. Also at this time Nixon and Brezhnev started the Detente wherein both sides started to exhibit improved relations with one another even getting to visit Moscow.


1972 - 1979

SALT 2 was another set of talks between the Soviets and the U.S. and this dealt with the proliferation of arms as well expanding the list significantly. President Jimmy Carter signed the SALT 2 treaty but after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in order for them to expand their communist power he decided to take it off the table for consideration but still honored the deal for a short time up until the invasion of Afghanistan.

End Of Cold War

December 26, 1991