Special Report

The 20 Wars Russia Has Fought in the Past Century

10. Soviet Union and the Vietnam War
> Year(s): 1945-1975

In 1991, the Soviet Union revealed its role in the Vietnam War. It said there were as many as 3,000 Soviet Army troops stationed in Vietnam during the war, as well as special forces deployed in clandestine operations. Soviet spy ships warned the North Vietnamese about US Air Force bombing missions. The Russians gave their communist allies military equipment and medical supplies.

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

9. Korean War
> Year(s): 1950-1954

The Soviet Union took a backseat to China in terms of supporting North Korea’s invasion of South Korea in 1950, though some Soviet pilots engaged in air combat with US aircraft. The Soviet Union chose not to become engaged in the land campaign out of fear of escalating the conflict. It did provide military and medical supplies to North Korea.

8. Berlin Uprising
> Year(s): 1953

East German workers, tired of efforts by the Soviet-backed regime to boost production without raising wages, revolted in June 1953. It was one of the first open rebellions against communist rule after World War II. About 1 million East Germans protested and rioted across East Germany. The United States provided various forms of aid for those in rebellion, but the uprising fizzled out in October. The aftermath of the rebellion was a large exodus of the East Germans to the West – the so-called brain drain – that culminated in the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

7. Hungarian Rebellion
> Year(s): 1956

The death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and the subsequent criticism of his regime by his successors seemed to herald an era of greater openness among the Soviet bloc of nations, among them Hungary. This raised expectations and sparked a rebellion in October of 1956.

The rebels succeeded early on, with Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy agreeing to a multiparty system and national neutrality. He appealed to the West for support but the West did not want to risk a confrontation with the Soviet Union. On Nov. 4, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and squashed the revolt, and Nagy was executed for treason two years later.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Afghanistan War
> Year(s): 1979-1989

Since the days of the Russian Empire, Afghanistan had always been critical to Russia’s geopolitical strategy, and in 1979, the Soviet Union was concerned Afghanistan might draw closer to the US. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 under the pretext of the so-called Brezhnev doctrine that maintained that one communist regime was honor-bound to support another, weaker one, and use military force if necessary.

When the last Soviet troops withdrew in 1989, the Soviet Union had suffered a humiliating defeat that killed 1 million civilians and the lives of 125,000 Afghan, Soviet and other combatants.

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