Reportedly, now both the USA and Russia are engaged in military combat against Islamic State in Syria. Although contexts are different and it remains debatable exactly whom Russia are targeting, the targeted enemy of Islamic State appears to be in common.

Since the conclusion of World War II, have there been any military conflicts where the USA and Russia/Soviet Union were fighting the same enemy?

  • AFAIK the both supported Iraq against Iran, but only indirectly.
    – Anixx
    Sep 30, 2015 at 13:51
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    – T.E.D.
    Oct 1, 2015 at 3:20
  • It's not conflict, per se, but the Russian and American space programs certainly cooperate with each other nowadays, even though space exploration used to be a largely military activity.
    – Gwen
    Oct 1, 2015 at 9:52
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    Afghanistan post 9/11 - the Northern Alliance used Russian surplus heavy weapons and armor. Air bases, transit routes... Oct 3, 2015 at 6:01
  • Wasn't that the plot of Iron Eagle 2? ;)
    – Schwern
    Jun 6, 2016 at 1:00

3 Answers 3


Depends somewhat on your definition of 'engagement' and 'conflict'. (Or, in the case of Syria, your definition of 'joint'...)

The UNTSO peacekeeping/observation mission in the Middle East had a permanent allocation of both American and Soviet military representatives (36 of each) between 1973 and the end of the Cold War. UNTSO still has Russian representatives. Not quite a combat role, but definitely in a combat zone. This was, I believe, the first time the USSR ever contributed personnel to a UN peacekeeping mission.

After the end of the Cold War, Russia began to take a more active role in UN peacekeeping operations. Russian troops were deployed in at least four of the Yugoslav peacekeeping operations, all of which also had US participation:

  • the UNPROFOR mission (1992-95), though I'm not sure how many;
  • UNCRO (1995) in Croatia - looks like about a battalion, though not directly alongside US troops
  • IFOR (1995-96) - both an American and Russian brigade were participating in Multi-National Division (North)
  • KFOR (1999 onwards) - up to five Russian battalions (all now withdrawn)

There were not many military interventions by the USSR in the decades between WWII and ISIS. The Soviet Union only fought with Afghanistan and China during these decades, and a couple of 'invasions' of Warsaw pact countries. This list shows where the USSR fought in these years.

Comparatively, the US actively fought in Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Nicaragua, Panama, Libya, Iraq/Kuwait, Cuba, Guatemala, Chile, Honduras, El Salvador, Somalia, Afghanistan, and more during these same years.

The comment above about supporting Iraq against Iran in a proxy war is the closest there is for this time period.

  • The International Brigade was hardly "anarchist", and was opposed by the proxies representing Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Jun 4, 2016 at 15:03
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    Ok, removing that part of my answer. Jun 4, 2016 at 21:50
  • @PieterGeerkens This speaks briefly about difficulties between anarchist and communists in Spainish Civil War. I recall more details in Encyclopedia Of Military History by Dupey. Jun 4, 2016 at 22:10
  • This will always be true: "It was not long before most of the anarchists wished they had gone Right for they were unmercifully massacred by their Red Comrades." Jun 4, 2016 at 22:21
  • You have ignored all the proxy battles the USSR fought through the likes of Egypt, Syria and Jordan against Israel. Soviet engineers manned SAM missiles around Hanoi throughout the 1960's, and probably also did so in Egypt. Jun 4, 2016 at 22:22

I can't think of a single one militarily. The last time I can think of any actual cooperation was under "Nunn/Lugar" which involved the deconstruction of the former Soviet Union's vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

There are rumors that the USA and Russia are cooperating in Syria...but Russia's stated goal is to keep Assad in power whereas the USA has said it's goal is to have him deposed.

Turkey is also a member of NATO whereas Russia most certainly is not.

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