Russia and The Western Republics

Section 1, Chapter 16

Birth Of An Empire

In the 13th century, invaders from Mongolia called Tartars brought the expansion of Russia to a grinding halt. They destroyed everything in their path, almost as if they were acting like molten lava. This lead them to sacking a city named Kiev between 1237 and 1240. The Mongols controlled this region until the 1500s until the powerful prince of Moscow, Ivan the Great, put an end to their rule.

Russia continued to expand after this and by the 17th century, they were expanded all the way to the Pacific Ocean. More people came with more territory, and many of these people belonged to different ethnic groups, spoke different languages, and practiced different religions.

The Cold War

After WWII, Joseph Stalin installed pro-Soviet governments in the Eastern European countries that his armies liberated from Germany. This lead US leaders to fear that a new Russian expansion was going to take place and that Stalin would spread communism all over the world. The tension between Russia and the US rose and lead to a conflict in the late 1940s. This rivalry continued into the late 1980s and a Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, started to give more political and economic freedom to the Soviet people. This began the process that led to the collapse of the Communist government, the Soviet Union (1991), and the Cold War.

The Rise and Fall of The Soviet Union

During World War I, the people in Russia had a lot of pent up anger that exploded into revolt. This lead to the Russian Revolution starting in 1917 that ended the rule of the czars. With the czars out of the way, the Russian Communist Party took over the government. They took charge of the economy and gave Communist leaders control over all important economic decisions. This also lead to the creation of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or Soviet Union for short) in 1922.

A Command Economy

The Communists that overthrew the czarists in 1917 about a government that would drastically change the economic geography of the region. They had been inspired by the work of Karl Marx, a German philosopher who studies the histories of economic systems. MArx predicted that a Communist system would be the best for the country, considering citizens would own land and share the wealth.

To move towards this, leaders adopted a command economy, where the government made important decisions.