The Collapse of the Soviet Union was brought about by the economic crisis in the USSR which led to serious shortages, the introduction of perestroika (competition in business) and Glasnost (freedom of speech) by Mikhail Gorbachev which opened the floodgates for demonstrations and revolutions in the Eastern Bloc. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Soviet president on December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the prolonged Cold War finally came to end.
Collapse of the Soviet Union
Background History: The history of the events in Russia between 1922 and 1991 encompassed the overthrow of the Russian monarchy and establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or the Soviet Union in December 1922 by the revolutionary leaders of the Russian Communist Party led by Vladimir Lenin.
Background History: The USSR was a union between Russia and fourteen Soviet Socialist Republics consisting of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan The USSR was a union of Russia and fourteen Soviet Socialist Republics consisting of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Background History: During the period between 1922 - 1991 the leaders of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were Vladimir Lenin (1922-1924), Joseph Stalin (1924-1953), Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964), Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982), Yuri Andropov (1982-1984), Konstantin Chernenko (1984-1985) and Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991).
Background History: The Warsaw Pact (14 May 1955 - 1 July 1991) was a defense treaty among eight communist 'satellite states' of Eastern Europe dominated by the USSR during the Cold War. The countries were referred to as the Eastern Bloc and consisted of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania and their location was described as being behind the "Iron Curtain".
The Cold War (1945 - 1991) was a period of "non-hostile belligerency" primarily between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Competition between the two super powers resulted in the costly Cold War Arms Race and the Space Race.
In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the USSR knowing that the Soviet Union was in serious trouble both economically and politically.
The efforts by the Soviet Union to match the expenditure of the U.S. in the Cold War Arms Race had brought the nation to the point of bankruptcy. The USSR economy was in serious decline, agriculture and industry were stagnating, and there were serious food shortages.
Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev realized that the USSR could not afford to continue the arms race or match the massive expenditure of "Star Wars" and needed to concentrate on resolving the economic crisis and addressing the growing political unrest in the 'Satellite Nations'.
In 1989 the decline of power became obvious when Gorbachev withdrew Russian troops from Afghanistan, knowing the USSR would never be able to win the Soviet–Afghan War (1979 - 1989).
Gorbachev began to reform the Soviet system by the democratization of the Communist Party and allowing Glasnost (freedom of speech) and perestroika (competition in business).
The introduction of the policies of Glasnost and Perestroika inadvertently opened the floodgates for political demonstrations and protests against the restrictive Communist-led governments of the Eastern bloc.
People began their struggle for independence, equality and opportunity and revolutions began to erupt in the European countries of the Eastern Bloc against the Soviet Union and its strict communist regime.
The "Revolutions of 1989" witnessed the ousting of many Soviet-imposed communist regimes in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania.
Lech Walesa representing 'Solidarity' became the first non-communist president of Poland. The harsh regime of the tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania collapsed and the non-violent "Velvet Revolution" broke out in Czechoslovakia. In East Germany mass public protests and demonstrations led to the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, 1989
Mikhail Gorbachev significantly refused to authorize the use of the military force in either the Soviet Union or the satellite nations of the Eastern Bloc during the period of protests, demonstrations and revolutions.
Communist hard-liners attempted to remove Mikhail Gorbachev from power and he was briefly imprisoned as the military attempted to seize control of the Russian parliament. The military coup failed but the balance of power and popular support shifted from Mikhail Gorbachev to Boris Yeltsin.
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia declared their independence from the Soviet Union. The Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine broke away from the USSR and created the Commonwealth of Independent States. Their example was followed by the remaining republics.
In September 1991 the Congress of People's Deputies voted for the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics. All the individual republics, including Russia itself, had seceded from the union.
Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Soviet president on December 25, 1991. The office of President was abolished but its functions were handed over to Boris Yeltsin.
The Soviet Union had collapsed and the prolonged Cold War finally came to end.
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