The Cold War definitively ended sometime between 1989 and 1991 because its natural lifespan had come to an end. The Cold War only began in the first place due to the international strife and power struggle created following World War II. The vacuum of power left by Nazi Germany and the gash along the European continent, paired with the revelation of atomic weaponry, created a context without historical precedent. As such, the conflict which followed, the Cold War between the United States and the USSR is entirely unique. The proper end of this conflict, which became a struggle between a communist and capitalist perspective, is the major dissolution of one of those perspectives. Said event came to pass with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is impossible to say that the Cold War continues on based on current foreign relations between Russia and the United States, or in relation to international politics in general. If there is a comparable conflict, it is not an extension of the Cold War, but rather a new one all together created from this century’s great crises.
Although the Malta Summit and the fall of the Berlin Wall were paramount to the ending of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 remains more than a formality. It is only with the formal declaration that communism in Europe is not to retain the same shape, and that many of the societies behind the iron curtain now have the opportunity to remake themselves in their own vision, that the Cold War could end.