The Collapse Of The Soviet Union Research Paper
Mikhail S. Gorbachev entered office in March 1985 determined to scrap old assumptions about Soviet foreign policy. He had drawn lessons from the return of Cold War tensions in the early 1980s. The "old thinking" believed that the USSR would emerge victorious in the Cold War if it continued building up its arsenal and fostering "progressive" regimes in the Third World in places like Angola, Ethiopia, and especially Afghanistan. Gorbachev's "new thinking" sought to reorganize and revitalize the Soviet system.
The first step at the end of the Cold War came when Mikhail S. Gorbachev implicitly abandoned the Brezhnev Doctrine. On 14 April 1988, the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the United States and the Soviet Union serving as guarantors, signed an agreement known as the Geneva accords. This included five major documents, which, among other things, established a timetable that ensured full Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan by 15 February 1989. Gorbachev demanded that the retreat be orderly and dignified.
The second act of the drama began in the fall of 1989 with peaceful revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe and the fall of the Soviet "outer empire." Shortly after Poland's electorate voted the Communists out of government in June 1989, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would not interfere with the internal affairs of the Eastern European countries. By October, Hungary and Czechoslovakia followed Poland's example.
On 09 November 1989, the East German Government opened the Berlin Wall. East Germany, the centre of contention throughout the Cold War, was united with West Germany and integrated into NATO. In Poland, communism took ten years, in Hungary ten months, in East Germany for ten weeks, and in Czechoslovakia ten days to disappear. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact a year later plus the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in resulted in a stronger Western alliance.
The third and final act closed with the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. By 1989 Gorbachev's domestic reforms had run into serious trouble, and the economy went into a tailspin. The centrifugal forces in the "outer empire" stimulated and accelerated those in the "inner empire", as the Soviet republics sought sovereignty and then independence. As the centre disintegrated and Gorbachev opened the political process with glasnost, the old communist "barons" in the republics saw the handwriting on the wall and became nationalists. Each of the USSR's republics, as they declared independence or sovereignty, also adopted statements by the republic leaderships on service in the armed forces, including the creation of their own military forces.
Gorbachev's struggle with the old imperial elite in the communist party, the armed forces, and the military-industrial complex culminated in the August 1991 coup. When the failed, it finished off the USSR -- and Gorbachev himself. Russia was one of the main initiators of the break-up of the Soviet Union. Because the former Soviet republics receiving independence was something that Russia wanted itself. On Christmas Day 1991, the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin was lowered and replaced by the new Russian banner. The USSR officially ceased to exist on 31 December.