The collapse of the Soviet Union is inextricably tied to the reformist policies of the then-General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev came to power in a single-party, multi-ethnic state that ruled a network of satellite countries by force and coercion. By weakening Soviet mechanisms for maintaining power, Gorbachev's reforms undermined the ability of the state to hold onto its possessions and stave off internal challenges.Continue Reading
The proximate cause of the Soviet collapse was the attempt, on Aug. 19, 1991, to overthrow Gorbachev and install a new regime of Communist hardliners. The coup was likely timed to prevent the ratification of a treaty that would have converted the Soviet Union into a European Union-style confederation with less centralized authority. The coup attempt was thwarted when loyal units of the Soviet army, responding to the orders of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, refused to fire on protesters at the Kremlin.
In the months following the abortive coup, one republic after another declared independence from the central government in Moscow, where Gorbachev's authority was weaker than ever. The end came on Dec. 21, when 11 of the 12 republics, excluding Georgia, signed the Alma-Alta Protocol, which recognized the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The delegates at the meeting also accepted Gorbachev's resignation, which had not been offered yet. On Dec. 26, the Soviet Council of Republics voted itself out of existence, and the Soviet Union ceased to exist.Learn more about Cold War
Joseph Stalin's first step into significant power came in 1922, when he became the General Secretary of the Communist Party, a position he held until his death. He was never elected into office and got his power through a series of intelligent maneuvers.Full Answer >
The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to help the Communist government defeat guerrilla Muslim troops. Communist governments controlled Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union in the late 1970s. The Soviet Union supported and encouraged the practice of communism in other governments, and it lent a helping hand to nearby Afghanistan to quell anti-Communist actions.Full Answer >
View maps of the Soviet Union on MapsofWorld.com and Users.Erols.com. MapsofWorld.com enables you to download and print its map for free, and you can also buy a copy from the website. The website also has a brief history of the Soviet Union accompanying the map.Full Answer >
The countries that were once part of the Soviet Union include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia and Georgia. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova also belonged. Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan round out the total. The Soviet Union dissolved on Dec. 26, 1991.Full Answer >