Focused on the buildup of military strength during the Cold War, the Soviet Union had amassed a substantial force. It had produced an enormous number of nuclear weapons, and also had collected a very large army. It was dedicated to military power, and it sought supreme domination in the armed forces. The Soviet Union established itself as a military power and concentrated on the quantity of its army and nuclear stockpile.
Much in the same way, the United States was committed to keeping up or outdoing the Soviets, following them in its goals. The US armed forces had grown greatly over the course of the Cold War as it kept step-for-step with the Soviets in increasing its military power. The defense budget was considerably larger than it was in the pre-Cold War era, and while both the US and the Soviets had agreed to decrease the amount of nuclear weapons they had, both were competing to have the more intimidating force, which led to rivalry in its numbers of weapons.
The primary reason the Soviets were often overestimated was because of the costs of maintaining such military strength in its competition with the United States. The Eastern Bloc made sacrifices to keep ahead or at the same level as the Western Bloc, such as the price Russia paid in its country's wealth and well-being to launch Sputnik, the first space satellite, into orbit. The Soviets hid under the masquerade of its military to make up for the other areas in which they lagged. As the Cold War advanced, the Soviet Union became increasingly dependent on its defense spending, exposing the underlying structural flaw. The Cold War had become a crucial part of the Soviet Union , and the Soviet economy was dormant. The defense spending was no longer solely for military purposes, and the Soviet Union began to see its collapse in a failing economy.
When Mikhail Gorbachev rose to leadership in 1985, he announced that the Soviet Union would attempt to diversify its economy and quickly stray away from Cold War spending. Gorbachev's economic reform led to a gap in military buildup between the Soviets and the Americans, as he saw that the status of the economy took precedence over the rivalry with the US. Tension between the Eastern and Western Blocs declined, and the Soviets began to withdraw from their status as a dominant, oppressive power.
One of the most significant events of the end of the Cold War was the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall had been a long-standing reminder of the Soviet government and the Cold War era. The Wall was knocked down in November of 1989, amidst the celebrations of countless Germans. West Germans were allowed to travel without visas starting in late December of 1989, which signified the end of an era of fear and oppression.
The Cold War was acknowledged as over by Gorbachev at a summit conference in late 1989. The USSR was collapsing, and Gorbachev's reforms were unsuccessful, causing the Soviets to gradually dissolve. The Communist Party saw its downfall as it weakened, and by December of 1991, the Soviet Union had separated into numerous independent countries. The Soviet Union had collapsed, and the Cold War was over.
The events of the Cold War had significant impacts on all parties involved. The United States had spent trillions on the Cold War, and it had gone to wars in both Korea and Vietnam , costing many thousands of American lives. The Soviet economy had collapsed, and so had the Soviet Union, leaving a new, non-Communist government in place in Russia. The result of the stagnant Russian economy was a very poor standard of living, which extended somewhat into post-Cold War years as the Russians restructured their economy and country. The fighting that took place in Southeast Asia had caused millions of deaths through the battles with the global powers such as the US and France and the civil wars between the conflicting regions of countries. Although there were never direct battles between the Soviet Union and the United States , the Cold War had a global impact.