Alternative History
Cold War
22 March 1946 – 26 May 2014
(68 years, 2 months and 4 days)
Part of the Post-WWIII era
World Map JoW Cold War.svg
  ONAV, CoN and allies,   Eurasian Pact states and   non-aligned states during the Cold War

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between Cygnia and Germany on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other, along with their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War III. Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span the end of World War III in Europe (22 March 1946) to the election of Boris Nemtsov to the Russian presidency (26 May 2014). There was no large-scale fighting directly between the great powers—hence the term "cold war"—but each side supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict was based around the ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence by the two blocs. Cygnia and Germany were close allies during World War III, and, sharing similar political and cultural values, remained engaged in a cooperative relationship during the Cold War. Meanwhile, Russia, which had been part of the losing Axis powers in the war, had lost significant territories in Eastern Europe, and was determined to re-establish its sphere of influence. China was one of the principal Allies in World War III, but its authoritarian government gravitated towards warmer relations with Russia, leading to the two countries partnering against the Western Allies. Aside from the nuclear arsenal development and conventional military deployment, the struggle for dominance was expressed via indirect means such as psychological warfare, propaganda campaigns, espionage, far-reaching embargoes, rivalry at sports events and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

The Western Bloc was led by Cygnia and Germany, and consisted of many other European, North American, African and Asian countries that were mostly liberal democratic; there were some authoritarian states within the Western orbit mainly for economic or political convenience, and mostly former colonies. The Eastern Bloc was led by Russia and China and their ruling parties, the Russian Republican Party and the Kuomintang respectively. Russia and China were both also tied to a network of authoritarian states. The Cygnian and German governments supported left-wing governments and revolutions across the world, while Russia and China funded authoritarian parties and uprisings around the world. As nearly all the colonial states achieved independence in the period 1946–1960, they became Third World battlefields in the Cold War.

The first phase of the Cold War began shortly after the end of the Third World War in 1946. Cygnia and Germany in 1949 formed two parallel military alliances aimed at containing the influence of Russia and China. These were the Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) and the Organisation des Nordatlantikvertrags (ONAV) respectively, and were collectively referred to as the Double Alliance. Russia and China formed the Eurasian Pact in 1955 in response to the Double Alliance. Major crises of this phase included the 1927–1948 Chinese Civil War, the 1947–1949 Indian Civil War, the 1948–1960 Malayan Emergency, and the 1950–1953 Japanese War. The Western Allies and Eurasian Pact competed for influence in Latin America, the Middle East, and the decolonising states of Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Following the Malayan Emergency, a new phase began that saw the Sino-Russian split between China and Russia complicate relations within the Eurasian Pact, while France, a Western Bloc state, began to demand greater autonomy of action. Russia supported and funded coups across the unstable states of Eastern Europe, successfully causing the realignment of Belarus and Ukraine with the Eurasian Pact. Meanwhile, Cygnia experienced internal turmoil from the indigenous rights movement. In the 1960s–1970s, an international peace movement took root among citizens around the world. Movements against nuclear weapons testing and for nuclear disarmament took place, with large anti-war protests. By the 1970s, both sides had started making allowances for peace and security, ushering in a period of détente that saw the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. This evolved into a period of warming relations through the 1980s, beginning with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms of glasnost and perestroika, and market reforms under Chinese President Chiang Ching-kuo. Trade between the Western and Eastern Blocs increased as the Russian and Chinese governments both began to gradually open and liberalise their economies in response to growing domestic economic stagnation.

However, détente with Russia collapsed at the beginning of the 1990s with Gorbachev's overthrow in a coup conducted by hardline Republican Party officials led by Vice President Gennady Yanayev, and with China following the violent massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square. Yanayev's new government reversed Gorbachev's liberal social, economic and political reforms, and reinstituted one-party rule. In response, the Cygnian and German governments increased diplomatic, military and economic pressures on Russia, and what little progress in Russian relations with the West that had been achieved was lost. Massive protests in Russia were quashed violently by the authorities; as a result, it and the countries in its sphere of influence became increasingly isolated. Cygnia's 99-year lease on Hong Kong's New Territories expired in 1997, and pursuant to the Sino-Cygnian Joint Declaration signed in 1984, Cygnia handed Hong Kong over to China, despite significant popular pressure in Hong Kong and Cygnia to renege on the agreement.

What is often seen as the final phase of the Cold War began in the early 2000s, when China deployed its army to crush pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Commonwealth of Nations responded by imposing an unprecedented package of economic sanctions, including legislation prohibiting the sale of Cygnian mining exports to China, crippling both the Chinese and Cygnian economies and precipitating a global economic crisis. In June 2004, China, facing growing domestic pressure, withdrew from Hong Kong and made way for an international presence. Ultimately, the Kuomintang's conservative leaders were removed in December 2005 in an internal party putsch; their more moderate replacements led by Lee Teng-hui agreed to protesters' demands for an end to political corruption and nepotism and for political liberalisation. One-party rule in China came to an end when Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party was inaugurated as the new President in 2006. Under Chen's presidency, China withdrew from the Eurasian Pact, and negotiated an end to the West's economic embargo. The Cold War continued between the West and Russia for another eight years, when the Snow Revolution resulted in President Vladimir Putin's assassination, the collapse of the Republican Party and the election of Boris Nemtsov to the presidency. The Nemtsov administration pursued a similar course to the Chen government, and a final settlement was agreed to in 2015 that led to the end of Russia's political and economic isolation.

The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy. It is often referred to in popular culture, especially with themes of espionage and the threat of nuclear warfare.