Yeah, I had an assignment to do that involved a blog post, but I decided that Blogger is not the place to put anything. Ever. In the meantime, enjoy yourself. I bet some wise old guy (or lady, who knows) once said that if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’re bound to repeat them. Enter Russia. As most of us know, the Soviet Union, before it was turned into a meme, was a communist superpower that nearly went to nuclear war with the USA, nearly wiping both of them out. Luckily, that never happened, and this guy named Gorbachev said “Hey. Ya’ll can have freedom now if you want to.” And so it went. Communism was voted very bad by nearly all of the countries on the Eastern Bloc (more on that later) and after everyone realized that maybe this communist stuff wasn’t so great after all, and on Christmas Day, 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved. Putin has now annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Well, needless to say, that’s not good, because annexing land is not something the Russians do once. In fact, Russia has a long history of great and terrible conquerors. The first inhabitants of the gigantic continent-sized parcel of land we know as Russia today were the Kievan Rus’, the first Slavic people. The Kievan Rus’ were basically just vikings that went from the Baltic Sea down to the Caspian and Black Seas and made a decently-sized state. By the 10th and 11th centuries, the Kievan Rus’ were basically the China of today: you might not know much about them, and you might be on opposite sides of the world, but you know it’s there and that it certainly has its fair share of power and wealth. Then, raids happened. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Turkic (probably just ye olde Turks) people started frequent raids on the Kievan Rus’ state, and the Rus’ just moved on up north. They’re Vikings, cold doesn’t exist, and they had no problem with a little cold. The problems didn’t stop there. After these invasions, constant bickering between the leaders of the Rus’ led to the disintegration of the medieval-ages kingdom. The final blow to the kingdom of the Kievan Rus’ was by those dang Mongols, who, once destroying Kiev, capital of the kingdom, established the state of the Golden Horde because, you know, they’re mongols. With the Kievan Rus’ gone, it’s time for more domination action: the Grand Duchy of Vladimir, then taken over to be the Grand Duchy of Moscow, who then annexed some more territory to, once again, become about half the size of Europe. These Russians weren’t fooling around. However, neither were those dang Mongols, who kept invading the Duchy. By now, the Duchy (and Russians in general) were sick of getting invaded all the time, so they called the Russian Orthodox Church and said “hey, can you help us kick the mongols out of our land?” And the church said “ya know what, sure” and then it was. The pair of the two struck a mighty, crippling blow to the Mongols and, with no Mongol distractions, took over more land (see a trend here?), even absorbing previously powerful rivals of its. Now, enter Ivan the Great, who finished off the Mongols and took part of the previous Byzantine Empire to obtain heaps of land for its own, and because the Duchy was so big, the people shouted HOORAY and crowned Ivan the Great the first Grand Duke of All Russians (yeah, it’s still a duchy, but the people are Russians). Now, enter the Tsars. The Tsars are a bit iffy, but they are nonetheless an unavoidable piece of the history of Russia because they still influence behavior today. The first Tsar (or Czar, if you want to call it that) was Ivan the fourth, son of Ivan the Great, Grand Duke of all the Russians. This grand leader’s son went on to become Ivan the Terrible, 1st Tsar of Russia (yes, it was formally Russia now). Ivan, true to his epitaph, was indeed terrible. While he did triple the size of the already gargantuan Russia, he was fascinated with death. When one of his builders built this beautifully massive building, Ivan decided the best thing to do was to stab the builder’s eyes out so that he could never create something that beautiful again. He was terrible. And now he’s dead. A few Tsars later comes Peter the Great. Unlike Ivan, he wasn’t terrible, he was great. Peter turned the whole Tsardom into an empire, and that’s why he was the last Tsar and the first Emperor. Along his path to greatness, he took some more land and gained access to sea ports, which Russia needs badly even today. The greatest and most well-known achievement of Peter, though, was him trotting off to Western Europe, saying “oh that’s cool” and coming back to Russia and saying “let’s go modern.” So they did. They modernized Russia, and everything was Great. He was Great. And now he’s dead. Time for more Great, in the form of Catherine the Great. She was the current empress at the time when Russia was participating in the Seven Years’ War, and also participated in the Age of Russian Enlightnment. The only reason she’s mentioned here is because she took some more land and seized the Crimean Peninsula, which will be important later. She was Great. And now she’s dead. Then, World War 1 happens and people everywhere die. But before that happened, though, Karl Marx all the way back in Germany invented communism. Later, Lenin decided that might be a good idea, but everyone thought he was nuts and sent him to Switzerland. Then, someone else said “Hey, maybe this worker equality thing isn’t that bad of an idea.” And they brought him back by train. The workers, under Lenin, organized the Red Army to fight against the (air quotes) “evil of capitalism” and his supporters and supporters of communism were collected into the Bolsheviks. Welcome to the most important moment in Russian history, probably: the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War. The Bolsheviks quickly made a coup on the government with Lenin in charge. Civil war broke out even faster, but the Bolsheviks came out on top. The royal family was executed, and the empire was no more. The communist party was on the rise, and more and more countries neighboring Russia thought that they had the right idea and joined Russia. Now, with the full support of 15 independent republics, they all united to become the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR) or the Soviet Union for short. We can’t explain the USSR without explaining how communism works. Step 1: everyone gets the same paycheck; workers, CEOs, everyone. Step 2: the government will take care of the people. Well, we can take a lesson from history and say how well that worked out: badly. For now, though, the Russians were happy. The problem is, the Russians were also paranoid, and started building up a huge stock of nuclear weapons in case someone, most notably the United States, were to invade. The USSR wanted to spread communism, but the USA wanted to prevent that spread. The USA even went as far to establish the Truman Doctrine, which basically said communism is evil and we need to stop it. Then, the Cold War began. Both countries scrambled to build up their nuclear arsenal and to race to space. Unfortunately for both countries, nobody likes war and space is expensive. The USA’s people started protesting the war, and the USSR’s money was going to the military, not the people’s equal paychecks. It’s rewind time. I said that step 1 in communism was that everyone got the same paycheck. What I DIDN’T say is that the paychecks were on a fixed amount. EVERYONE was poor. Russians didn’t like this. But they persevered, and still believed in communism. Then Lenin died. Who remembers Stalin? He took over. If epitaphs still existed today, he would be Stalin the Terrible. He was really the one who put the USSR in the slums. Under his rule, things went down the drain in every possible way. He was mean. And now he’s dead. Still, the thread of a nuclear war loomed in the distance, ever closer. Both countries had nukes, which had now been upgraded to H-bombs from A-bombs. The doctrine of MAD was created, meaning Mutually Assured Destruction. If one side attacked the other, and both had nuclear weapons, both countries would be destroyed, so neither country would risk starting a nuclear war. Two more alliances were struck, basically doing the same thing: NATO and the Warsaw Pact. NATO basically said that if you attack any one member of NATO, all the countries of NATO strike back. The Warsaw Pact did the same thing, but mirrored. If you attack any one country of the USSR, all of them strike back. This created a stalemate. After Stalin’s awful dictatorship, the people “elected” Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev wasn’t Stalin the Terrible, but he wasn’t a capitalist either. He led the country just like Lenin did: he did okay, but capitalism is better. Here’s the “minor” conflict of the entire war: Berlin. West Berlin was capitalist, and East Berlin was communist. The capitalist side looked prosperous and good, while the communist side looked like it just came out of an apocalypse. People were starving, but could just as easily walk across to West Berlin and see all the prosperity. Communism, they thought, might not be the best. So, the USSR did what Trump wants to do: he built a wall. Families were separated, and no longer could the people stuck in the slums of East Berlin escape. It was terrible. Khrushchev’s reign, besides ordering the construction of the Berlin Wall, wasn’t thick with big activities. He was okay. And now he’s dead. Here’s the game-changer of the Cold War: Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev wasn’t as extreme as all other former communist dictators had been. He believed the reason communism wasn’t doing so hot was because the people couldn’t enjoy their work. He was actually okay with giving some freedom to his people. This was huge. All of a sudden, people could enjoy Western culture. People could criticize the government. But how would reforms work? Poland’s leader went over to Moscow and introduced these reforms to Gorbachev. Gorbachev said that he didn’t really agree with the reforms, but he wouldn’t stop them if it meant his workers could enjoy their work. That was the best thing since sliced bread to the poor souls of the USSR. Countries began planning actual free and fair elections, and capitalism was deemed superior to communism. Because of Gorbachev, the entire Cold War just… ended. It was huge. The closest the world has ever been to whole annhiliation just dropped. If anything, Gorbachev was the hero of the Cold War, and on Christmas Day, 1991, the USSR, global superpower, dissolved into 15, independent, republics. After the Cold War, Russia turned to the greatness of democracy and capitalism. Vladimir Putin became the new leader of democratic Russia. Or, so we think. A few years ago, in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea so they could have its warm-water port. This wasn’t a good sign. Every time Russia gets more land, a war happens. Also, the Mueller Report that came out recently states that Trump didn’t know about any interference in the election, not that it didn’t happen. Also, Russia has been keeping secrets. What about, who knows, but here’s where Russia is about to repeat history. Step 1. Russia gets more land. As it was back in the Russian Empire and the rule of the Tsars, Russia always gets bigger. And, to get bigger, it’ll fight. The best word to describe Russia in this step is paranoid. They want the largest buffer zone they possibly can get. This isn’t good, to say the least. This practically means war is coming. Step 2. Putin’s power. Putin has been in power as either president or Prime Minister for the last 19 years, and will be in power till 2024. This looks like a dictatorship, and that’s also not good. Also, Russia likes to keep secrets. This dictatorship and large land size is like looking in a flashback mirror all the way back to the USSR. I wouldn’t like to say that this is the next Cold War, though that theory is speculated to be true, but communism never works out. NEVER. Like looking in a mirror, this new Russia is slowly, very slowly, morphing back into the old communist regime known as the USSR. This could mean any number of things, but as history shows, none of them are that Great. In fact, some of them might just be Terrible. I hope you had fun, because if you’ve actually read all this way, and you’re not my teacher, give yourself a pat on the back and come up with some conspiracy theories.