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What are some major military successes achieved by the former Soviet Union against the Western World that shook the US and its Cold War allies?

  • The Soviet blockade of Berlin was enough to cause the Berlin Airlift. – Dale Aug 10 '12 at 18:11
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    @JoeHobbit - The Americans consider the Berlin Airlift a victory for their side, tho: American logistics vs. Soviet ground forces. In retrospect, both sides probably thought they "made a point" - the Cold War was weird like that. – RI Swamp Yankee Oct 17 '14 at 12:33
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    Are we counting WWII? Defeating Germany and marching into Berlin with a massive army and shockingly good equipment would definitely be one of them. That, and their unwillingness to withdraw from Eastern Europe, started the Cold War. – Schwern Mar 9 '18 at 19:54
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    @RISwampYankee except the only point the Soviets made during the Berlin Blockade was to reinforce what heartless b*stards they were. – RonJohn Aug 19 '18 at 20:30
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There were none. Likewise, the U.S. never scored any military victories over the Soviet Union.

The Cold War was a war by proxy. One superpower was a combatant in Afghanistan, Korea, and Vietnam, but the other did not send troops to the other side — partly out of fear of escalation into global conflict. Rather, they provided support to their allied local factions, as both did in the numerous other conflicts of the Cold War.

That is not to say that other military conflicts did not shake the Western powers. The single most significant development was the defeat of the Nationalists in the Chinese Civil War and the declaration of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The shock and the ensuing bitter debate over who had "lost" China colored American policy for a generation.

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    +1. The entire meaning of "Cold" War is that there is no direct warfare between the two parties. Its all carried out with propaganda and bluff, and very occasionally with proxies. – T.E.D. Aug 10 '12 at 19:07
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The answer to your question depends heavily on how you define "Military". As Choster's answer implies, defining military successes as direct military action between the armed forces of different nations means that the Soviet Union and the US never triumphed military over each other. Indeed, except for some aerial skirmishes during the Korean War, Soviet and American forces did not ever face off against each other for an extended period of time.

That said, direct Soviet military aide through advisers and equipment, as well as diplomatic pressure, was vital to defeating or at least defending against direct and proxy US military action all over the world, but especially in East Asia. Rather you define that as military action or not is hard to say, and I am not expert enough to qualify how critical soviet military aide and diplomatic pressure was in the American defeat in Vietnam for instance, but it is fair to say that America's defeat in Vietnam had a profound effect on the entire Western world, and that Soviet support undoubtedly played a role.

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