Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer
Timeline: A Century of Unions in Europe (1920-2022)
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, starting one of the largest wars on European soil since World War II. The invasion reflects Russia’s long-held belief that Ukraine — and many former Soviet republics and satellite states — are still theirs to claim. But what is the “former glory” of Russia?
Of the former Soviet Union republics and satellite states, many have moved to join the European Union, becoming more “Westernized” in Putin’s eyes and further from Russian values. In fact, Ukraine recently confirmed its candidacy status in the EU.
Now a whole century has passed since the formation of the Soviet Union. A lot has changed since then, and this visual timeline shows how countries in and around Europe have aligned over the course of 100 years.
ℹ️ In the image above, the Soviet satellite countries are not shown as part of the Soviet Union, as they were never official republics. Candidate countries have not yet been shown to be in the EU accession process.
Soviet Union / Soviet Union
The Soviet Union, officially the USSR, was formed 100 years ago in 1922 and dissolved almost 70 years later in 1991. At its peak, it was home to 15 republics 286 million People, from the Pacific Ocean to the Ukraine, with virtual control and influence in Western countries stretched to East Germany.
Prominent leaders described both the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, from its founding under Vladimir Lenin to its dissolution under Mikhail Gorbachev. Latvia and Lithuania were among the first republics to move for sovereignty, marking the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Here’s a look at which modern-day countries were part of the Soviet Union.
|Modern day country||Named under the Soviet Union||registery date||The date of gaining independence|
|🇬🇪 Georgia||Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇺🇦 Ukraine||Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇦🇲 Armenia||Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇦🇿 Azerbaijan||Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇧🇾 Belarus||Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇷🇺 Russia||Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇺🇿 Uzbekistan||Uzbekistan Soviet Socialist Republic||1924||1991|
|🇹🇲 Turkmenistan||Turkmenistan Soviet Socialist Republic||1924||1991|
|🇹🇯 Tajikistan||Tajikistan Soviet Socialist Republic||1929||1991|
|🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan||Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic||1936||1991|
|🇰🇿 Kazakhstan||Kazakhstan Soviet Socialist Republic||1936||1991|
|🇱🇹 Lithuania||Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1990|
|🇪🇪 Estonia||Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1991|
|🇱🇻 Latvia||Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1990|
|🇲🇩 Moldova||Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1991|
In addition, there were several satellite states that had not officially joined the Soviet Union, but operated under heavy Soviet influence.
|Modern day country||The name of the country at that time|
|🇦🇱 Albania||People’s Republic of Albania|
|🇵🇱 Poland||People’s Republic of Poland|
|🇧🇬 Bulgaria||People’s Republic of Bulgaria|
|🇷🇴 Romania||People’s Republic of Romania|
|🇨🇿 Check||Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic|
|🇸🇰 Slovakia||Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic|
|🇩🇪 Germany||East Germany (German Democratic Republic)|
|🇭🇺 Hungary||People’s Republic of Hungary|
|🇸🇮 Slovenia||Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇭🇷 Croatia||Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇷🇸 Serbia||Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇲🇪 Montenegro||Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇲🇰 North Macedonia||Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇲🇳 Mongolia||People’s Republic of Mongolia|
Today, there are still some countries that align with Putin and Russia over the EU.
Belarus, sometimes called “Europe’s last dictatorship”, shares a border with Ukraine and Russia, facilitating the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine. In addition, according to the Pentagon, Russian missiles were launched from Belarus.
The European Union was officially established in 1993 and has 27 member states. Some former republics of the Soviet Union, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, are now part of the union. The last member to join was Croatia in 2013.
The European Union has its roots in the European Coal and Steel Community, which was formed in 1952 with Italy, France, West Germany and several other countries as its first members. There are currently six candidate countries to join the EU – all but one of which were former Soviet satellite states or official republics:
- 🇦🇱 Albania
- 🇲🇪 Montenegro
- 🇲🇰 North Macedonia
- 🇷🇸 Serbia
- 🇹🇷 Turkey
- 🇺🇦 Ukraine
- 🇲🇩 Moldova
There are many reasons why countries decide to join the EU: common currency, easy movement of goods and people across national borders, and of course military protection.
However, in 2020, the UK officially left the union, making it the first country in history to do so. Here we take a look at all the member states of the European Union.
|European Union member states||Membership year||Republic of the former Soviet Union?||A satellite state of the former Soviet Union?|
|🇩🇪 Germany||1952||no||Yes (East Germany)|
The Iron Curtain that stretched across Europe, dividing the continent politically and ideologically, has since been pulled back. But the war in Ukraine is a threat to many in Europe, and countries such as Poland have expressed concern about conflict spillovers.
In late June, the European Council approved Ukraine’s bid for fast-track EU membership, but the process is likely to be long—it took Croatia, for example, 10 years to officially join at the normal pace.
Beyond other needs such as military support, joining the EU would allow Ukrainian refugees to easily migrate and work in other EU countries.