The Collapse of the Soviet Union

by James Graham

The collapse of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics radically changed the world's economic and political environment. No other conflict of interest dominated the post World War Two world like the cold war did. One man is credited with ending the cold war, Mikhail Gorbachev. This however was not the biggest event Gorbachev was responsible for. The end of the cold war was just a by-product of the other major event he was involved with. That is the fall of communism in the USSR and the collapse of the USSR itself.

Gorbachev a communist reformer was appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985. His appointment followed the death of three previous Soviet leaders in three years. Leonid Brezhnev was first to go followed by Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. Not being able to afford another short term leader the old guard appointed the youthful 56 year old Mikhial Gorbachev as General Secretary.

From the outside it seemed as if this great superpower self destructed in only three months. The USSR's demise is of course more complicated than this. The break up of the USSR can be traced back to Gorbachevs appointment and his early reforms. Gorbachev introduced a wide ranging program of reform. His major reforms were glasnost, perestroika and democratisation. These reforms allowed the problems of the USSR to be uncovered and become public knowledge.

Ethnic unrest, economic inefficiency and historical atrocities were the major challenges Gorbachev faced. How he dealt with these challenges and how successful he was is examined in this report.


Collapse of The Soviet Union Series:
Glasnost | Perestroika | Democratisation | Ethnic Problems
Baltic Independence
| The Conservative Coup