Russia/USSR: The Cold War and Gerontocracy 1953-85
In the aftermath of The Great Patriotic War, as Russians call World War Two, Russia and its leader, Stalin, rose in importance and power in the post war world.
Stalin grabbed much power for Russia in the European settlement, leading Churchill to remark that an Iron Curtain had descended across the continent. There was now a West, including USA, and an East. The stage was set for a new war, The Cold War, between the two Superpowers, of Russia and America.
When Stalin died in 1953, much required attention in Russia itself, but fixated on The Cold War, and the Space and Arms Races, ordinary life for the Russian masses remained tough.
None of his successors, even mildly competent ones like Khrushchev and Brezhnev, could solve Russia's underlying problems. Finally the sequence of old men ended with the sick Andropov and the seriously challenged Chernenko, before Gorbachev, the first leader born under Communism, sought necessary reform.
The question hovering over this entire period is, could Communism have ever allowed Russia to catch up, in material terms, with The West ?