How Much Do You Know About U.S.-Soviet Relations Following WWII?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

The United States and the Soviet Union have been longtime enemies. Even when they teamed up to defeat the same enemy, they always kept a watchful eye on each other. Their fight has been a bitter game of words. The rest of the world stands by in wait while these two powerful forces know they control the fate of the world, yet are unwilling to jeopardize their positions of power on the planets greatest stage. From volatile rhetoric to a space race and then the more dangerous race of all - nuclear weapons - these two countries are like resentful cousins who happen to be bitter rivals. They work together when necessary, but otherwise they face each other with a grim mug-mouth. 

The Soviet Union didn't exist until 1922, but do you know how long it took the United States to recognize them? If you do, you know how quickly this rivalry began. After World War II, do you know how the Soviets took care of the rest of Eastern Europe? Do you know how the Korean War affected the rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet Union? Or what 1960 event caused tension between the two countries?

While tensions between the United States and Russia are at a historic high, it was the 70-year existence of the Soviet Union and the reciprocated bitterness with America that kept the world on constant notice.

Take this quiz to see how much you know about the turmoil of the U.S. and Soviet relations! 

True or false, did the U.S. recognize the Soviet Union immediately after the first World War?

The Soviet Union didn't officially exist until 1922. And it wasn't until 1933 that America formally recognized the USSR. It didn't take long for diplomatic relations to take a frosty turn.


How did America assist the USSR during World War II?

As the Nazis killed millions of Soviet troops and civilians, the U.S. shipped countless tons of war goods to the USSR. It took years of awful combat, but the Soviets finally drove the Germans back to Berlin.


Who led the Soviet Union during and after World War II?

Joseph Stalin, an iconic totalitarian if ever there was one, was in charge of the USSR during and after WWII. His brutal (and deadly) leadership made it unlikely that the United States would ever develop a real alliance with the Soviets.


What sort of government was in control of the Soviet Union during WWII?

Stalin was a Communist with designs on a dictatorship. The West, including America, was more than a little wary of Communism and its effects on the post-war world.


What happened to Soviet influence in Eastern Europe following WWII?

After the war, the Soviets took control of much of Eastern Europe, folding territory into the expanding USSR. This land grab didn't sit well with the locals and it didn't please politicians in the West, either.


Post-war tensions between the U.S. and USSR are collectively referred to as _____.

With the cessation of hostilities in WWII, the West and USSR settled into decades of political hostility. The era is known as the Cold War.


After the war, the Allies created the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. Did they REALLY intend to include the Soviet Union as part of the Marshall Plan?

The Allies did pitch the Marshall Plan to the Soviets, but under terms (such as free elections) that they knew Stalin would never accept. The Soviets didn't really receive Western help for their reconstruction efforts.


Polish authorities wanted assistance as part of the Marshall Plan. How did the Soviets stop Poland from taking part in the Plan?

Stalin had no intention of letting Poland (or Czechoslovakia) take part in the Western-driven Marshall Plan. The Soviets threatened Czechoslovakia and then bought off Poland with a gigantic trade agreement, giving the Soviets a better geographical cushion from the West.


Which organization rallied the West during post-war years?

In the ashes of WWII, the Western Allies created NATO, basically a military alliance. But NATO had some pretty obvious anti-Soviet leanings, a fact that didn't sit well with Stalin and his men.


In reaction to the creation of NATO, what did the Soviets do?

The Soviets were alarmed by the Western Allies and their NATO alliance. In reaction, Moscow conjured the Warsaw Pact, a defense treaty that rallied Eastern Europe and the USSR to a common cause.


The term "Eastern Bloc" referred to what, exactly?

Following the Warsaw Pact, the Western media referred to this Soviet alliance as the "Eastern Bloc." It was also sometimes called the "Soviet" or "Communist Bloc."


What was the ultimate goal of the so-called "Truman Doctrine"?

Following WWII, President Harry Truman and other Western politicians worried about Soviet expansion in Europe. Truman's anti-Soviet policies became known as the Truman Doctrine, and they set the tone for increased tensions during the Cold War.


What was the name of the party in control of the USSR during the Cold War?

The Communist Party became an ominous, overpowering force in the Eastern Bloc. Opponents of the party were brutally suppressed and sometimes "disappeared" altogether.


How did the Korean War of the 1950s affect relations between the U.S. and USSR?

During the Korean War, the U.S. came to the aid of South Korea. The USSR took the side of North Korea and China, a fact that worsened overall tensions.


What major event changed Soviet politics in 1953?

In 1953, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin died. His death resulted in the Communist Party ruling as a group for a time. Eventually, First Secretary of the Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev, took control and became a figurehead for the Soviet Empire.


In 1957, the Soviets accomplished which incredible feat?

In 1957, the Soviets put the first man-made satellite (Sputnik I) into orbit around the Earth. The incredible accomplishment was fuel for the fire of the coming Space Race.


In 1960, what incident rocked U.S.-Soviet relations?

In 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory. The pilot was captured … and the "U-2 Incident" became a major point of contention between the two nations.


A missile crisis in which country nearly started a nuclear war between the U.S. and USSR?

In 1962, the U.S. uncovered Soviet nuclear missiles en route to Cuba for deployment. President Kennedy led a diplomatic confrontation and ultimately forced the Soviets to back down from the plan, which would have placed enemy nukes very close to U.S. territory.


How did the USSR approach the Vietnam War?

During the Vietnam War, the Soviets aided the Communist-led North Vietnamese forces. With the U.S. fighting on the side of the South, the conflict essentially became a proxy war between America and the USSR.


What was the purpose of the 1963 Moscow–Washington hotline?

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, delays in receiving and translating messages nearly escalated the situation into a war. The new hotline made it easier and faster for top U.S. and USSR politicians to contact each other, particularly in tense situations.


True or false, were all commercial flights between the U.S. and USSR halted for years during the Cold War?

From 1978 to 1986, there were no commercial flights between the two countries. This fact did nothing to ease tensions between the foes.


In 1987, what did U.S. agents discover at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow?

In 1987, Embassy workers found Soviet listening devices inside the building. President Reagan was angry and ordered that no further sensitive messages were to pass through the Embassy.


In 1972, what action did President Nixon take to reduce tensions between the U.S. and USSR?

In 1971, a period of "détente" (release of tension) began as President Nixon deescalated the Cold War. In 1972, he even visited Moscow on a mission of goodwill.


What's one reason that Nixon decided to visit Moscow?

Vietnam War-era turmoil was rocking all of America in the early 1970s. Nixon hoped for a dramatic breakthrough with the USSR to improve his qualifications for reelection.


True or false, was Nixon the very first American president to visit Moscow?

Keep in mind that the USSR had only been around since 1922 … and wasn't really friendly to the U.S. So when Nixon visited Moscow in 1972, he became the first American president ever there on a diplomatic mission.


What issue were the SALT talks supposed to address?

In 1969, the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) meeting between the U.S. and USSR took place. In these talks, the countries tried to come to an agreement on the issue of arms control, particularly with regard to nuclear weapons.


What major political event shook Communism in 1989?

In 1989, the Polish people voted Communists out of their government, and it wasn't long afterward that the Berlin Wall fell. Abruptly, Communism spiraled toward its death all over Eastern Europe.


Who was elected President of the USSR in 1989?

In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected president. His election was foreshadowing for the ways that Soviet society would quickly change.


When did leaders of both countries announce the end of the Cold War?

In 1989, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the U.S and USSR announced the end of the Cold War. After decades of post-WWII hostilities, there was finally hope for a new beginning.


What happened to the USSR in 1991?

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the spread of anti-Communist revolution in the Eastern Bloc sounded the death knell of the Soviet Empire. In 1991, the country quickly unraveled and was replaced by Russia, which has a tense relationship with the West.


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