The Cold War ended when Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union. After taking control of the country in 1985, he set about reforming governmental policies. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is often viewed as the symbolic end of the Cold War.
Gorbachev's new policy changes included allowing Western goods, ideas and services into the USSR in hopes of reviving the economy. This had the opposite effect of what the leader wished for, however, and as citizens got a taste of freedom, this caused communist governments to begin falling around the world. This desire for freedom eventually spread to the Soviet Union and many states within the country began claiming independence. In 1991, Gorbachev proposed a treaty giving the states more autonomy, but they were not satisfied and more states began declaring independence. This left the president without a nation to rule.
As the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) continued to collapse, the newly independent states began adopting more Western trades and ideas. The Cold War lasted for more than 45 years and it became a major part of the lives of Americans as many people, including governmental agencies, remained prepared for a violent confrontation with the Soviet Union. Several political parties tried taking credit for the collapse of the country, but there was no one single cause.