Marked by widespread political and social change, twentieth-century Russia endured violent military conflicts, both domestic and international in scope, and as many iterations of government. The world’s first communist society, founded by Vladimir Lenin under the Bolshevik Party in 1917, Russia extended its influence through eastern Europe to become a global power. The USSR and its controversial leaders polarized diplomacy worldwide, drawing the rival United States near to nuclear war in the 1960s. The events included in our timeline, sourced from Russia in World History by Barbara Alpern Engel and Janet Martin, highlight the most pivotal episodes in twentieth-century Russian history, each of which contributed to the Soviet Union’s eventual collapse in 1991.
Featured image: Plainclothes policemen on patrol in Petrograd during the October Revolution, 1917. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Timeline background image: Flag of the Soviet Union. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.