Soviet Union Map/Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic is also known as the Soviet Union or the USSR, which was established on the same territory after the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917 with the great October Revolution.

Geography of the Soviet Union

With the eastern part of Europe and the northern part of Asia, the USSR has become the world’s largest country with a surface area of 22.402.400 km². At the same time, USSR ranked 3rd in the world with 293,047,571 million (June 1991) population.

A map showing Russia in red with a hammer and sickle symbol over it, surrounded by other countries in pink, with their names labeled.
Map of Soviet Union

One of the important political and military power in the world, the Soviet Union was surrounded with Norway, Finland, the Baltic Sea, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania in the west and the Black Sea, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea in the south.

The northern and eastern borders were drawn by the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The capital of the union was Moscow, and the currency was the Soviet Ruble.

Foundation of the Soviet Union

Historical B&W photo of a man addressing a crowd with raised hands and background banners.

The Bolshevik Party, headed by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, began to take power in 1917. At the time of the revolution, Russia was on the side of the Entente States during the First World War. The first major performance of the Bolshevik Party was to withdraw Russia from the war with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. At the end of this treaty, Russia had to leave Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Batumi, Kars and Ardahan.

After that, the Bolshevik Government began to fight with its political rivals such as Constitutionalists, Democrats, Socialists, and Internationalists from the Menshevik Party.

In the end, these rivals were united with those who wanted to rebuild the monarchy and the country was dragged into a civil war. Bolsheviks collided with the Red Army, led by Leon Trotsky, who had been constantly renewed for many years, backed by large and foreign states.

These great states have tried to establish their own chosen regime in order to continue their economic activities in Russia, their most important objectives, and to reverse the Bolshevik Revolution. Bolsheviks set up the Cheka Organization in December 1917 and embarked on systematic terrorist movements.

The whites were defeated by the rivalry among their allies, despite all their help. Bolsheviks killed Nicholas II of Russia (July 1918) and when Germany collapsed at the end of World War I Russia declared that they did not recognize Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Bolsheviks began to occupy the lost lands again. The Bolsheviks who succeeded in the south could not hold back in the North and in 1920 they accepted the independence of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Finland.

Since then, Moscow has abandoned the policy of Russianization and recognized the language and culture headmen. The name of the country was changed to the Soviet Socialist Republic and these autonomies was recognized by the 1924 Constitution.

Bolsheviks’ attempts in Germany and Hungary have seriously worried his allies who cannot defeat the Red Army. These countries started to support Finland, the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania, which are called the health corridor, to prevent the spread of the Bolsheviks.

Communism in Soviet Russia

Historical photo depicts a crowd, possibly protesting, with some holding rifles or sticks and banners in the background.

In July 1918, a constitution was adopted in the 5th Congress of the Soviets, which would set an example for the 1924 and 1936 constitutions. During the sessions, the Congress delegated its powers to the Central Executive Committee of its own choice of 200 members, which elected the highest governmental body in the Bolshevik system, Sovnarkom.

The civil war placed the dictatorship of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In this system, the Central Committee, which governed the Party, elected the personnel of the organization and political offices.

The central committee consisted of twenty members elected at the party congress. In this period (1918-1919) industrial enterprises, foreign and domestic trade were nationalized.

The collapse of production as a result of the First World War and the civil war resulted in the death of millions of people in the 1921 famine and the rebellion of Kronstadt sailors. This pushed Lenin to launch the New Economic Policy, which means a return to a liberal, capitalist-type economy (12 March 1921).

In this period, great efforts were made in the formation of industrial infrastructure and in the electrification of the industry. Since 1917, Lenin had encountered opposition from Bukharin, Radek, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and especially Trotsky.

While Lenin was moving away from political activities due to illness, separatist movements were also increasing. With Lenin’s death in January 1924, Trotsky began to direct his opposition to Josef Stalin, the general secretary of the party.

While Trotsky and those around him argued that the revolution could only succeed if it spread all over the world, Stalin and his supporters first thought of the successful establishment of Socialism within the borders of the Soviet Union and the connection of the International to this politics. Stalin, also supported by Zinoviev and Kamenev, took the presidency of the Council of Military Revolution from Trotsky.

While Zinoviev and Kamenev heard the idea that the International should be connected to Soviet politics, they opposed this and joined again with Trotskyi, but they lost their positions as a result of their opposition.

At the beginning of 1929, Trotsky was deported from the Soviet Union. Stalin, who ended the New Economy Period, banished the right wing opponents (Bukharin, Raykov, Tomskiy), who support the moderation, from power.

Stalin’s First Five-Year Plan

Two men wearing traditional Caucasian attire smiling and posing for a photo.

After a long preparatory work, the first Five-Year Development Plan for the period 1928-1932 was adopted. Large-scale public investment, private employing 20,000 foreign experts and the import of machinery equipment have resulted in a 136% increase in production. Thanks to the socialist competition of foreign engineers, the industry developed rapidly and escaped centralism. However, prioritization of heavy industry has increased the shortage of consumer goods.

Stalin wanted to maintain commercial equilibrium through wheat imports in order to feed the workers from day to day. Therefore, he decided to collectivize agriculture. The aim of this collectivization was to increase productivity through manual mechanization in agriculture and to release manual labor.

The rich peasants were liquidated (by the end of 1929) and the peasant masses were allowed to participate in the collective farming farms by pressure. But since the reform resulted in the elimination of animals and yield, the collective farms were allowed to own a garden, a cow, small ruminants and poultry (March 1930) and to sell surpluses in the market (May 1932).

Collapse of the Soviet Union

A black and white photo showing two people standing on a toppled statue in an urban setting with onlookers in the background.

With the 1917 October Revolution, in other words, the USSR, which was established with the Bolshevik Revolution, was a force against the United States during the Cold War.

But when Stalin died in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev took the place after the four-year struggle, and the relations between East and West reached very dangerous levels in Khrushchev ‘s period.

Activation of nationalists and the introduction of the principles of Glasnost (Openness) and Perestroika (the reorganization of the political system, the state organization, and the governmental organs) were the factors that formally disseminated the USSR at the end of 1991 following 6 years of reform.

The countries affiliated to the Union declared their independence respectively. Twelve of the 15 states that declared their independence met again and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Soviet Union Countries

Soviet Union Countries List:

  1. Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
  2. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic
  3. Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
  4. Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic
  5. Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic
  6. Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic
  7. Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
  8. Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic
  9. Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic
  10. Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic
  11. Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic
  12. Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic
  13. Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic
  14. Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
  15. Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic