There are a number of events that led relatively directly to the end of communism. They include:
- The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This turned out to be the Soviets' Vietnam.
- The election of John Paul II as pope and the founding of the Solidarity movement in Poland. Both of these helped weaken the prestige of communism in that country.
- Ronald Reagan's decision to push the Soviets with another arms race. This helped to further weaken the Soviet economy as their government struggled to pay for new weapons.
- The rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev and the implementation of his reforms. These set the stage for the real breakdown of communism since they weakened the authoritarian system and allowed for more dissent.