The Soviet Union created the 1955 Warsaw Pact as a direct retaliation to the formation of NATO in 1949. The Pact and its accompanying 1949 Comecon were designed by Stalin to mirror the aims of NATO as a defensive alliance, but within the context of the Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe. For example, Warsaw Pact forces were used to suppress the 1986 rising in Czechoslovakia.

By the time the Warsaw Pact had come about, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had already introduced the 1947 Cominform. In the same year, the Molotov Plan was introduced to offer Soviet aid to the eastern satellite states. The Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) was next set up to coordinate economic policies within the Soviet satellite states.

Basically, Stalin had it allll figured out. At least until satellite states started to realise life under the Warsaw Pact wasn’t all it’d been cracked up to be; by 1969, Romania had made serious moves to leave. The country’s then-leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, started actively expressing dissatisfaction with the Warsaw Pact in 1963, and by 1969 the nation had ceased to take an active part in the military alliance.

Following a secret approach to the US in 1963, the Romanian government expressed a wish to remain neutral in the event of a Cold War conflict. This was triggered by fears that arose as a result of the Cuban missiles crisis. And so, the leadership in Bucharest decided that it wanted to disengage itself from any conflict between the US and the Soviet Union. The good news? That’s all you need to know for now!