Today in History: The USSR Ends The Warsaw Pact

Mikhail Gorbachev. BBC

If you’re a student of the so-called Cold War, you’ll know that despite no true war between the United States and the USSR taking place, there were many proxy wars that occurred. The most notable would be the Vietnam War. But as we also know, the Cold War ended in the early 1990s.

On this day in 1991, one of the final nails was hammered into the USSR’s coffin. The Warsaw Pact was launched in 1955 as a response to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. It was the USSR’s coalition of its European satellites that was meant to reinforce the dominance of Communism in Eastern Europe. NATO was created in 1949, and it was meant as a defensive coalition between the United States, Canada, and a few European countries that were not happy with Communism’s spread throughout the rest of Europe.

The Warsaw Pact was created in 1955, when the members of NATO voted to include a newly rearmed West Germany. The Pact was meant, at least on paper, to be a true defensive rival to NATO. However, by the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was very clear that the USSR was using the Warsaw Pact to reinforce and advance Communism’s spread throughout Europe.

Warsaw Pact
USSR Sinking. Speeli

In 1956, only a year after its creation, the USSR used the Pact to legitimize military actions it took against Hungary. It did so again in 1968 in Czechoslovakia. It primarily used the troops that the Pact provided to suppress anti-Communist uprisings.

In 1991, the USSR was quickly disintegrating. It is unsurprising therefore that the Warsaw Pact was under pressure to disband. Member satellites were no longer interested in providing troops for a Communist cause that was failing. The end of the Warsaw Pact was one of the final failures that caused the USSR to officially collapse by the end of December 1991.