Have you heard about the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union? This was one of the most important parts of world history, which set in motion events that lead to today’s geopolitical climate. Read on to discover more.
Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse?
The Soviet Union collapsed as a result of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. This collapse began in the late 1980s and ended on December 25 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up into 15 separate, independent states.
What Caused the Collapse of the Soviet Union?
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as General Secretary of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev intended to reform the Soviet Union’s economy and improve their political situation, as they were in a relatively unstable position at the time. These reforms can be summarized in two main terms: Glasnost and Perestroika.
Glasnost was how Gorbachev intended to improve freedom of speech and government transparency. This meant that all government officials would be accountable to the people for their actions. Glasnost would greatly benefit the people, but also led to some conflict – as people and the media were finally able to speak up, some states used their new freedom to express a strong desire for independence.
On the other hand, Perestroika was the word for “restructuring”. As the name suggests, this indicated Gorbachev’s plan to restructure the Soviet Union economy to be more efficient. He did so by allowing for private ownership of property and loosening the firm grip the government previously had on the economy. However, there were a few problems with Perestroika too; the sudden change meant that people were not used to handling financial matters themselves, so the situation seemed to deteriorate before gradually improving.
The Spread of the Nationalist Movement
As mentioned earlier, the newfound freedom Gorbachev gave the people was intended for their good, but may have been bad news for the Soviet Union as a whole. This is because some of the outlying Soviet states began to rebel, starting with the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Other states soon joined in to demand their independence, such as Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia. The Soviet Union’s Central Government eventually began to feel increasingly pressured as more and more states demanded independence.
This culminated in an attempted takeover of the communist Soviet Union government. In August 1991, Soviet hardliners kidnapped Gorbachev, telling the world that they would take over leading the Soviet Union as he was too sick to govern. When Soviet citizens began protesting, the hardliners attempted to use military force to make the people stop. However, since the soldiers refused to shoot or arrest their own people, the takeover attempt failed.
Finally, in December 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved into 15 separate countries and Gorbachev resigned. This marked the end of the Soviet Union.
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