Cold War – Causes, Meaning, Phases, India During Cold War

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The causes of the cold war are marked by the difference in the opinion, of communism. The appearance of the United States and USSR as superpowers and the difference in their political ideology made up the major causes of cold war. The era was marked by the conclusion of the cold war and the emergence of a multipolar world dominated by unipolar powers. The cold war is the period from the mid-1940s to the early 1990s characterized by a relative easing of tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The article facilitates complete and whole knowledge centering on the causes of cold war and other details. The Truman Doctrine assisted during the cold war. The Soviet Union was weakened which led to a series of revolutions. Walk through the article to collect information regarding the causes of cold war.

What is the Cold War?

The Cold War was a period during which the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a global power struggle for dominance. During this time, the two countries avoided direct military conflict with one another, but they engaged in indirect fights through economic, political and propaganda means.

  • This “war” was “cold” because neither side’s military actually came into direct conflict with each other both wanted to avoid a mutually assured destruction situation where there would be no winners.
  • Historians cannot confirm the dates of the cold war. The time period ought to be between 1947, and the year of the Truman Doctrine.
  • This doctrine is the foreign policy of the United States that aims to assist the nations that were intimidated by the expansionism of the Soviets.
  • The Truman Doctrine was announced in 1991, the year that marks the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Causes of Cold War

When the Soviet Union was suffering, the United States surged the military, economic, and diplomatic pressures on the Soviet Union. During the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev instituted liberalizing reforms pertaining to reconstruction, reorganization [perestroika], and glasnost [openness] in order to put an end to the economic recession. It also aimed to democratize Soviet society. Check out the causes of the cold war in detail.

  • After world war 2 the United States made an appearance as a superpower. The second most possession of power was held by USSR. It has played an instrumental role in combating Germany in war.
  • Communist Governments were there in the majority of the countries in Eastern Europe. They favored the communist government.
  • The world was stratified into two parts such as one in favor of the communist powers and the other that opposed the communist powers.
  • The USA started weighing all the developments and viewed them through the lens of favor or opposition to communism.
  • The political space was opened that witnessed National Movements in Eastern Europe, that in turn surged pressure in USSR.
  • The weakening of Soviet control over Eastern Europe in 1989 led to a cascade of revolutions that peacefully ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe. In 1991, Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary of the Communist Party.

Which Turn of Events did the Cold War Lead to?

After world war II marked a division between the two superpowers, the Soviet Union on one side [its satellites] and the USA [NATO allies] on the other side.

  • This created what US President Harry Truman called a “polarization” of power, as each side sought to promote its political ideology. This helped to fuel proxy wars, such as the Korean War (1950–1953), Vietnam War (1955–1975), Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), and Angolan Civil War (1975–2002).
  • In his first major speech on foreign policy, delivered in April 1947 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Harry Truman announced that the US will be facilitating political, military, and economic assistance to all the democratic nations from the autocratic and tyrannical forces.
  • This doctrine, known as the Truman Doctrine, was designed to contain Soviet expansion by offering assistance to countries struggling against communist subversion or invasion.
  • The tension between the United States and the USSR during the Cold War never seemed more significant, and those with the political power to do something about it were not sure if their efforts would be enough.

Phases of Cold War

The Cold War can be divided into 7 different phases to make it easier to understand and prepare notes. We have illustrated the different phases in a tabulated manner below.

Phases of Cold War Description
Phase 1 (1946-1949) After the end of World War II, the Soviet Union formed satellite states by occupying various Eastern European countries. It established Communism and destroyed democracy in these states.
Phase 2 (1949-1953) The US made a military alliance with these European countries by signing the NATO treaty.
Phase 3 (1953-1957) Two more treaties sponsored by the US emerged that were called South-East Asia Treaty Organization and the Middle East Defense Organization. These treaties emerged to prevent Communism from gaining control of these regions.
Phase 4 (1957-1962) The U2 plane incident created tensions between Moscow and Washington.

The Soviet Union constructed the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Phase 5 (1962-1969) Measures were taken to prevent a nuclear war between the two superpowers.
Phase 6 (1969-1978) There was some ease in hostility between the US and the Soviet Union. Richard Nixon followed a friendly policy towards USSR.
Phase 7 (1979-1991) The Soviet Union was disintegrated due to bankruptcy caused by the Afghan War. End of Cold War.

India During Cold War

During the Cold War, India maintained a policy of non-alignment, which meant that it did not align itself with either the United States or the Soviet Union. Since it was a newly independent country, India became a member of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM).

Moreover, India’s foreign policy was defined by two main objectives which were staying away from any military alliances and persuading other newly decolonized countries to not become a part of any such alliances. Pandit Nehru acknowledged that the policy of non-alignment was based on the principle of neutrality. Hence, it allowed India to promote peace and disarmament on the world stage.

End of Cold War

The end of the Cold War marked the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia formally recognised the end of the Soviet Union on 26th December 1991. The end was also marked by certain key events in history, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which symbolized the end of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe.

In addition to this, the end of the Cold War had far-reaching consequences, including the spread of democracy and market capitalism around the world, the expansion of NATO, and the United States of America emerging as the sole superpower of the world.

Cold War UPSC

Cold War is an essential segment of the UPSC syllabus. It holds enormous importance for the cold war and other related pertinent. The candidates can solve the previous year’s papers in order to get an idea of the questions asked in the exam.


The candidates need to come up with an exceptional strategy for the UPSC exam. The causes of the cold war and the aftermath of the war are the pivotal segments of the syllabus.

Cold War UPSC Questions

The questions pertaining to the topic “cold war” have been presented here. The candidates must practice the questions in order to gain complete details of the topic and uplift their level of preparation. Solving questions on regular basis helps the candidates in revising the topic as well as tracking their level of preparation.

Question: Which of the pairs have been incorrectly matched with reference to the cold war. [A] 1947- Truman Doctrine [B] 1954- Creation of SEATO [C] 1955- Baghdad Pact [D] 1957- Interference of USSR in Hungary.

Answer: (Option D) Interference of USSR in Hungary

Question: By whom NATO military alliance was created in 1949? [A] West Germany [B] United States [C] Soviet Union [D] China.

Answer: (Option B) United States

Question: Which events are related to Cold War? [1] Truman’s Doctrine [2] Treaty of Versailles [3] Cuban Missiles Crisis [4] Berlin Blockade.

Which of the statements are correct? [A] 1,2, and 3 [B] 2,3, and 4 [C] 1,3,and 4 [D] 1,2 and 4

Answer: (Option C) 1,3 and 4 Truman’s Doctrine, Cuban Missiles Crisis, Berlin Blockade.

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