Wartime In June 1941, during World War II, German troops invaded the USSR. They came within about 20 miles of Moscow, but the city was successfully defended. After the war the USSR and other Communist countries opposed Western capitalist countries such as the United States and Great Britain, during a period known as the Cold War.

⌂ Celebrations marked Moscow’s 850th anniversary in 1997.

Joseph Stalin ruled the USSR from 1928 to 1953. He was an ambitious man and ruthlessly killed all opponents (see page 27).

The Russian Federation In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR and began to make its government more democratic. He also increased contacts with capitalist countries, and in 1991 the Cold War officially ended. In August 1991, Gorbachev’s opponents led a coup against him. He survived, but the USSR collapsed in December. Russia, the largest and most powerful of its 15 republics, became the Russian Federation, with Moscow as its capital. The new leader, Boris Yeltsin, continued Gorbachev’s reforms. The current president is Vladimir Putin, who began his second tenure in 2012. His first was from 1999–2008.



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