As a result of its defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, Soviet control was established in the wake of the advance of the Red Army over Eastern Europe. The Cold War then ensued, the military confrontation between East and West, during which Soviet military power and political, economic and ideological influence became a major factor in world affairs. Some liberalization of the regime in Russia occurred in the wake of the death of dictator Josef Stalin in 1953, especially during the early 1960s under Nikita Khrushchev, but the Soviet system was largely in place within the Soviet Union and, to a modified extent, in the other Soviet bloc countries through the mid-80s.
In military terms, after being forced to retreat under the threat of a nuclear showdown with the United States in 1962 from its placement of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles in Cuba, the U.S.S.R. had through a massive rearmament program achieved near parity with the United States. During the 1970s, Soviet power had been projected into many areas of the world. In much of the Third World, the West appeared to be on the defensive. All attempts by Eastern European peoples, in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, had been put down by force under the Brezhnev Doctrine which, loosely translated, meant that the Soviet Union would keep what it had and take what