This signaled the end of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United … The following article on the fall of the Soviet Union is an excerpt from Lee Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards Spalding’s book A Brief History of the Cold War It is available to order now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A former Politburo member turned militant anticommunist, Yeltsin announced his intention to abolish the Communist Party, dismantle the Soviet Union, and declare Russia to be “an independent democratic capitalist state.”. Gorbachev’s decision to loosen the Soviet yoke on the countries of Eastern Europe created an independent, democratic momentum that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, and then the overthrow of Communist rule throughout Eastern Europe. Fall of the Soviet Union: The Cold War Ends. The former superpower was replaced by 15 independent countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. He deserves credit (if not the Nobel Peace Prize) for recognizing that brute force would not save socialism in the Soviet Union or its satellites or prevent the fall of the Soviet Union. A historian of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, he is a publisher of popular history, a podcaster, and online course creator. Site created in November 2000. President Bush and his chief foreign policy advisers were more pro-active toward Russia and the former Soviet republics after the collapse of the Communist monolith than while it was teetering. After the collapse of the USSR - the Russian army - almost 3 million people, 387 thousand went to Ukraine, 238 thousand to Belarus and 167 thousand to Kazakhstan. . The Commonwealth of Independent States was formed. The collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 changed the world’s geopolitical balance. This article is part of our larger collection of resources on the Cold War. . The first of the three Bush-Gorbachev summit meetings did not take place until December 1989 in Malta, where Bush emphasized the need for “superpower cooperation,” choosing to overlook that the Soviet Union was no longer a superpower by any reasonable criterion and that Marxism-Leninism in Eastern Europe was headed for Reagan’s “ash-heap of history.”. This article on the fall of the Soviet Union is an excerpt from Lee Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards Spalding’s book A Brief History of the Cold War. The change was sudden and swift in most of these countries, resulting in greater social and personal freedoms, as well as economic upheaval and political chaos. The end of Soviet domination also unleashed pent-up ethnic and national grievances, leading to sometimes-brutal … The rise of Yeltsin and the foundation of post-Soviet Russia, Independence movements and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was one of the most pivotal events of the 20th century. A Brief History of the KGB. As a consequence of Soviet collapse, we live in a new world. A month later, NATO issued a sweeping statement called the London Declaration, proclaiming that the Cold War was over and that Europe had entered a “new, promising era.” But the Soviet Union, although teetering, still stood. Barely three weeks after the Bush-Gorbachev summit in Moscow, the head of the KGB, the Soviet defense and interior ministers, and other hard-liners—the so-called “Gang of Eight”—launched a coup. He had to borrow a pen from the CNN television crew covering the event. Muscovites turned out in the thousands to defend their democratically elected president, and Moscow police did not enforce the plotters’ edicts. Both the government and the people realized that there was no way to turn back the clock; the massive demonstrations of the “August days” had demonstrated that the population would accept nothing less than democracy. In December 1917, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin created a secret police agency called the Cheka. Although a virtual pariah at home, the Soviet leader was greeted by large, friendly American crowds. On December 12, Secretary of State James Baker, borrowing liberally from the rhetoric of President Reagan, delivered an address titled “America and the Collapse of the Soviet Empire.” “The state that Lenin founded and Stalin built,” Baker said, “held within itself the seeds of its demise. And the economy of the late Soviet Union was already in terrible shape. President Bush quickly sought to make Yeltsin an ally, beginning with the coalition he formed to conduct the Gulf War. Answer A. Russians lost jobs in satellite countries B. The image of Yeltsin boldly confronting the Gang of Eight was flashed around the world by the Western television networks, especially America’s CNN, none of whose telecasts were blocked by the coup plotters. The Soviet Union has disintegrated!” These were the kinds of remarks the medical personnel at the hospital were making. Gorbachev’s internationally respected foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, had resigned in December 1990, claiming that hard-liners were pushing the country toward dictatorship. ... the collapse of the USSR. After the failed coup attempt, it was only a few months until the Soviet Union completely collapsed. Scott Michael Rank, Ph.D., is the editor of History on the Net and host of the History Unplugged podcast. The “gang of eight” had not grasped that democratization had made public opinion important and that the population would no longer meekly obey orders from above. Then the Russian army was reduced from 3 million to 900 thousand people. Image Courtesy Of Britannica. . Former Soviet republics declared their independence. He was ignored. Since 1990, their economies have grown around fourfold, though not without the occasional financial convulsion. The Soviet Union faced a serious foreign-policy crisis in which country? The Soviet Union dissolved. Gorbachev appealed to American businessmen to start new enterprises in the USSR, but what could Soviet citizens afford to buy? We must take advantage of this new Russian Revolution.” While Baker praised Gorbachev for helping to make the transformation possible, he made it clear that the United States believed his time had passed. Even then the end was not clear. It is an irony of history, notes Adam Ulam, that “the claim of Communism being a force for peace among nations should finally be laid to rest in its birthplace.” Looking back at America’s longest war and the fall of the Soviet Union, Martin Malia writes, “The Cold War did not end because the contestants reached an agreement; it ended because the Soviet Union disappeared.”, When Gorbachev reached for the pen to sign the document officially terminating the USSR, he discovered it had no ink. The shrinking Soviet Union received another major blow when the biggest republic, Russia, elected its own president, Boris Yeltsin. He referred to “the mad militarization” that had crippled “our economy, public attitudes and morals” but accepted no blame for himself or the generals who had spent up to 40 percent of the Soviet budget on the military. Don’t assume western democracy will last forever ... Yurchak was fascinated by the fact that, while nobody predicted the fall, when it happened… The collapse of communism in the late 1980s marked the end of Soviet rule over the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. But things began to spin out of control. I asked a lady there what had happened. On August 22 Gorbachev and his family returned to Moscow. Within minutes, the Russian defense minister stated that “not a hand will be raised against the people or the duly elected president of Russia.” A Russian officer responded, “We are not going to shoot the president of Russia.”. "They called themselves the punishing sword of … Study IQ education Recommended for you The threat before was one of mutual annihilation, but now the threat changed to what would happen if nuclear assets were lost, stolen or somehow evaded the control of the government. The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. You couldn’t just decide to go back to school, start a business, or switch careers to a thriving new industry. Now Yeltsin proclaimed its end by climbing onto a tank outside the Parliament and declaring that the coup was “unconstitutional.” He urged all Russians to follow the law of the legitimate government of Russia. The pictures convinced President Bush (on vacation in Maine) and other Western leaders to condemn the coup and praise Yeltsin and other resistance leaders. For a comprehensive outline of the origins, key events, and conclusion of the Cold War, click here. The failure to arrest Yeltsin before he got to the White House was crucial, because he was able to rally support from there. I. As Sipher explains it, the roots of the KGB and FSB go back to shortly after the creation of the Soviet Union. She probably thought I was from Mars. The coup was the culmination of a conflict between the old and new political, economic, and social orders that had been under way since Gorbachev had risen to power in 1985. Cold War Detente — US/Soviet Enmity Cools, California – Do not sell my personal information. Massive emigration of the smartest and richest people from Russia. A despondent Gorbachev, not quite sure why it had all happened so quickly, officially resigned as president of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991—seventy-four years after the Bolshevik Revolution. When the Soviet government fell, the Russian mafia, which had struggled to survive during the height of communism, stepped in to fill the power void. All rights reserved. The Soviet Union’s collapse not only threw economic systems and trade relations throughout Eastern Europe into a tailspin, it also produced the upheaval in many Eastern European countries and led to increased crime rates and corruption within the Russian government. among the Soviet hard-liners.” However, opposition to the new non-communist Russia was thin or scattered; most of the hard-liners were either in jail or exile. After all, the ruble didn’t enjoy the status of being the world’s reserve currency in the early 90s. The people clearly wanted an end to the party and him. The attempted coup, dubbed the “vodka putsch” because of the inebriated behavior of a coup leader at a televised news conference, collapsed after three short days. He was the first Soviet leader to be derided at the annual May Day parade, when protestors atop Lenin’s tomb in Red Square displayed banners reading, “Down with Gorbachev! Things have gone much worse since the fall of the Soviet Union. 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