Warsaw Pact | Summary, History, Countries, Map, Significance, & Facts (2024)

Europe [1955–1991]

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Also known as: Warsaw Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance

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The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree. They write new content and verify and edit content received from contributors.

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Formally:
Warsaw Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance
Date:
May 14, 1955 - July 1, 1991
Participants:
Albania
Bulgaria
Czechoslovakia
East Germany
Hungary
Poland
Romania
Soviet Union
Context:
Cold War
international relations
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Prague Spring
Warsaw Treaty Organization

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Top Questions

What was Warsaw Pact formally called?

The Warsaw Pact formally was called the Warsaw Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance. It was established on May 14, 1955.

What event prompted the creation of the Warsaw Pact?

In May 1955 West Germany joined NATO, which prompted the Soviet Union to form the Warsaw Pact alliance in central and eastern Europe the same year.

Which countries were part of the Warsaw Pact?

Warsaw Pact was a treaty that established a mutual-defense organization. It was composed originally of the Soviet Union and Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. Later Albania withdrew from the pact in 1968 and East Germany withdrew in 1990.

What did the Warsaw Pact do?

The Warsaw Pact provided for a unified military command and the systematic ability to strengthen the Soviet hold over the other participating countries.

When did the Warsaw Pact end?

After the democratic revolutions of 1989 in eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact became moribund and was formally declared “nonexistent” on July 1, 1991, at a final summit meeting of Warsaw Pact leaders in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Warsaw Pact, (May 14, 1955–July 1, 1991) treaty establishing a mutual-defense organization (Warsaw Treaty Organization) composed originally of the Soviet Union and Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. (Albania withdrew in 1968, and East Germany did so in 1990.) The treaty (which was renewed on April 26, 1985) provided for a unified military command and for the maintenance of Soviet military units on the territories of the other participating states.

The immediate occasion for the Warsaw Pact was the Paris agreement among the Western powers admitting West Germany to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Warsaw Pact was, however, the first step in a more systematic plan to strengthen the Soviet hold over its satellites, a program undertaken by the Soviet leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolay Bulganin after their assumption of power early in 1955. The treaty also served as a lever to enhance the bargaining position of the Soviet Union in international diplomacy, an inference that may be drawn by the concluding article of the treaty, which stipulated that the Warsaw agreement would lapse when a general East-West collective-security pact should come into force.

Cold War Events

Truman DoctrineMarch 12, 1947 Marshall PlanApril 1948 - December 1951 Berlin blockadeJune 24, 1948 - May 12, 1949 Warsaw PactMay 14, 1955 - July 1, 1991 U-2 IncidentMay 5, 1960 - May 17, 1960 Bay of Pigs invasionApril 17, 1961 Berlin crisis of 1961August 1961 Cuban missile crisisOctober 22, 1962 - November 20, 1962 Nuclear Test-Ban TreatyAugust 5, 1963 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks1969 - 1979 Mutual and Balanced Force ReductionsOctober 1973 - February 9, 1989 Korean Air Lines flight 007September 1, 1983 Reykjavík summit of 1986October 11, 1986 - October 12, 1986 collapse of the Soviet UnionAugust 18, 1991 - December 31, 1991

The Warsaw Pact, particularly its provision for the garrisoning of Soviet troops in satellite territory, became a target of nationalist hostility in Poland and Hungary during the uprisings in those two countries in 1956. The Soviet Union invoked the treaty when it decided to move Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia in August 1968 to bring the Czechoslovak regime back into the fold after it had begun lifting restraints on freedom of expression and had sought closer relations with the West. (Only Albania and Romania refused to join in the Czechoslovak repression.)

After the democratic revolutions of 1989 in eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact became moribund and was formally declared “nonexistent” on July 1, 1991, at a final summit meeting of Warsaw Pact leaders in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Deployed Soviet troops were gradually withdrawn from the former satellites, now politically independent countries. The decades-long confrontation between eastern and western Europe was formally rejected by members of the Warsaw Pact, all of which, with the exception of the Soviet successor state of Russia, subsequently joined NATO.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia BritannicaThis article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn.

Warsaw Pact | Summary, History, Countries, Map, Significance, & Facts (2024)
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