Leonid Brezhnev | Biography, Cold War, Birth, Death & Facts

Leonid Brezhnev led the Soviet Union for 18 years, from 1964 to 1982, at the height of the Cold War. His leader is known for mass-producing nuclear weapons, which cost the Soviet economy dearly.

Leonid Brezhnev Overview:

Occupation Leader of the Soviet Union
Born December 19, 1906
Died November 10, 1982
Nationality   Russian, Soviet, Ukrainian
Best known for Leader of the Soviet Union during the Cold War

Biography of Leonid Brezhnev:

Where did Leonid grow up?

He was born on December 19, 1906 in Kamenskoye, Ukraine. His father was a steel worker. Leonid went to school to study engineering and later became an engineer in the steel industry.

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Communist Party member

As a teenager, Leonid joined the Communist Youth Party and joined the Communist Party in 1929. After Stalin’s Great Purge in the late 1930s, which killed or removed many party officials and leaders, Brezhnev rapidly rose to prominence within the party.

During World War II, Brezhnev was drafted into the army and served as a political officer. There he made contact with a powerful member of the party, Nikita Khrushchev. Brezhnev rose through the war and retired in 1946.

Rise to Power

Brezhnev seized power in the Communist Party over the next few years. In 1957 he became a full member of the Politburo. The leader of the Soviet Union at that time was Nikita Khrushchev. Brezhnev continued to support Khrushchev until 1964, when Khrushchev was overthrown and Brezhnev became General Secretary of the Central Committee and leader of the Soviet Union.

Leader of the Soviet Union

Brezhnev was a key figure in the Soviet government for 18 years. Below are some of the key characteristics of his leadership and events during his reign.

Cold War – Brezhnev led the Soviet Union for most of the Cold War. His administration has entered an arms race in which the United States has a vast stockpile of nuclear weapons. In 1971, he initiated a thaw in relations with the United States called “delaxation.” These included the signing of the SALT I Treaty to Reduce Nuclear Weapons in 1972 and a meeting with US President Richard Nixon in 1973.

As a politician- leader, Brezhnev was able to remain in power for many years. Because he was a great politician. He worked with his fellow leaders, listened to their opinions, and made sure they were united on important decisions.

Domestic policy – The Brezhnev government pursued a policy of repression. He curtailed cultural freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press. He also largely neglected the economy, building a huge nuclear arsenal and military that would almost destroy the Soviet economy in the long run.

Vietnam War – When Brezhnev took office, the Vietnam War had already begun. He assisted North Vietnam until it was victorious.

Afghanistan War – Brezhnev decided to send Soviet troops to Afghanistan. This war drug persisted for many years and caused great embarrassment to the Soviet military.


Leonid Brezhnev died of a heart attack on November 10, 1982.

Facts About Leonid Brezhnev

He was married to Victoria Petrovna. He had a son, Yuri, and a daughter, Galina.

Brezhnev loved to win medals. Earned over 100 medals during his tenure.

He liked to play dominoes. He also enjoyed hunting and fast driving.

His first job was in a butter factory.

Many Russians believe that the Brezhnev era was one of the greatest in Russian history.

Despite the economic stagnation, the country was considered one of the world’s two greatest powers.