20 Wars Russia Has Fought Since 1917

The Soviet Union was born out of conflict and for virtually all of its existence, as well as its successor, the Russian Federation, Russia has been at war. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 is just the latest chapter in the sad and violent history of the world’s biggest nation.

To compile a list of the modern Russian wars, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information on historical military conflicts in Russia and the Soviet Union from the 2014 encyclopedia “Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond,” edited by Timothy C. Downling. Only military conflicts that occurred after the Russian Revolution of 1917, and are considered significant events in the timeline of Russian military history, were included. 

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came into being in 1922. At its height, the Soviet Union covered 8.6 million square miles, or one-sixth of the Earth’s land surface. Present-day Russia remains the biggest country in the world, and one of the most ethnically diverse. It also has one of the largest military forces in the world. (These are the countries with the largest militaries.)

Russia’s sheer physical size, its history of expansionism, and its communist ideology of exporting revolution to other countries has brought it into conflict with neighboring nations. 

Since 1917, many of its wars have involved conflicts with neighbors such as Poland, Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and China. 

When it was the Soviet Union, its most protracted struggle was with the West, an ideological confrontation known as the Cold War that lasted for the entirety of its existence. During this time, the Soviet Union imposed its will on Berlin and Hungary by military force when they rebelled against communist control. In other areas of the world, the Soviet Union engaged in proxy wars with the West by supplying military aid and medical supplies to allies in North Korea and North Vietnam.

Much of Russia’s modern history, culture, and its destiny have been defined by its war with Nazi Germany. Russia was invaded by Germany on June 22, 1941, and the conflict cost the lives of as many as 27 million people, most of them civilians. Called “The Great Patriotic War,” Soviet Russia emerged triumphant and became one of the world’s superpowers. (These are the wars that killed the most people in history.)

Click here to see 20 wars Russia has fought since 1917

To compile a list of the modern Russian wars, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information on historical military conflicts in Russia and the Soviet Union from the 2014 encyclopedia “Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond,” edited by Timothy C. Downling. Only military conflicts that occurred after the Russian Revolution of 1917, and are considered significant events in the timeline of Russian military history, were included. 

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