How Ukraine separated from Russia! The fall of the USSR

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How Ukraine separated from Russia! The fall of the USSR
13 Mar 2022
6 min read
TWN Opinion

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Gorbachev's decision to conduct fair elections with a multi-party system and create a presidency for the Soviet Union began a slow process of democratization that eventually destabilized Communist control and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We will cover the main reasons dedicated to the fall of the USSR under this article and why the largest country in the world got separated into 15 republics. #TWN

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The recent conflicts and war between Russia and Ukraine have shocked the world, but are you aware that once Ukraine was a part of Russia. Yes, Russia and Ukraine were not once neighboring countries but were a part of the same Union called the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), but they eventually separated and were divided into several countries. Russia might be the largest country according to land, but once, it was humongous. So, what happened and why did this Union fall, which eventually resulted in the separation of Russia and Ukraine. With this article, we will understand what was the situation which led to this separation and, was there any possibility that could have prevented it?

Reasons for the fall of the USSR

In the late 1980s, the USSR appeared to be somewhat of a powerhouse exhibiting a rigid recovery from the invasion of Afghanistan and with an economy that appeared to be performing well. The union appeared from the surface as powerful as it was back in the 1950s, but looks can be deceiving. Beneath this illusion, this union was falling apart, and it had been happening for decades. Some of the factors that led to this fall are:

  • Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in 1985, with plans to reform the hybrid communist capitalist system, similar to modern-day China. He also planned to ease the restrictions on freedom of speech and religion. Before this, millions of Soviets were arrested on the grounds of speaking against the state. However, his plan backfired when he discovered his loosening of control over the people and reforming political restriction meant the people used their newfound powers to criticize the government until they eventually succeeded in pushing for reform. 

  • This brand of communism had operated historically on tight central control, and the loosening control led to the abandonment of the entire construct. Back in the days of Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Joseph Stalin, the Soviets were led by a strong ideological belief tied to Marxism. By the 1960s, the radical policies of the past leaders were passed in favor of a more constructive approach. By the 1970s, the soviet people discovered the rise of the political elite, who lived in posh homes, ate in fancy restaurants, and spent their vacations in the luxury ski resorts, while millions of average Joe’s died from starvation. 

  • Younger Generations were less keen to toe the lines like their parents had and were willing to step forward and protest for change. These newer generations were more in tune with the world events and wanted to create a democracy within the USSR. And slowly but surely, began to pull at the strands of the political regime. 

  • Cold War tensions with the United States rose in the 1970s and 1980s, and with Ronald Reagan’s leadership and the resulting increase in military spending, it seemed that the U.S. had won the nuclear standoff. The strategic defense initiative, or SDI, claimed to be able to blast Russian missiles as they fell, meaning, in theory, the U.S. could win the long-running battle of wits. Reagan also managed to isolate the Soviets from the World Economy, and without the export of oil and sales, the soviet union was Severely weakened and limited.

  • The Soviets were unable to turn a corner, and in the 1980s, bread lines were commonplace as poverty soared. Many people didn’t have basic clothing and food, and under these conditions, it was only a matter of time before the people called out for regime change.

  • And then there is the National structure itself. There were literally 15 radically different republics under one flag, with different ethnicities, cultures, and languages, and hence the inherited tensions were bound to happen.

The Beginning of the Fall

The 1989 Nationalist movements brought about regime changes in Poland and Czechoslovakia, as the soviet satellite began to split away. As these nations began to pull away, The central apparatus was weekend until it finally collapsed. Due to all these factors by 1991, the Soviet Union was unable to maintain a normally functioning economy and run a huge military simultaneously. Gorbachev, unwillingly to go to war like his predecessors, instead pulled the plug on the military, and the 15 republics went their way. 

Although a devoted Marxist, Gorbachev was an independent thinker who respected the need for reform and planned the restructuring of the economy. Everything along with his vision to lessen the control held by the central government and a move towards uncensored media, laid the path of total reform.

Conclusion

The Soviet Union was no more, and on Christmas day 1991, Soviet President Gorbachev announced we were living in the new world. With these seven words, the Soviet Union was dissolved, and Gorbachev stepped down from his post. After 40 years of the cold war and the threat of nuclear holocaust, the world's largest communist state broke up into 15 different republics, meaning that the U.S.A was now given the accolade of the new world superpower. At its strongest USSR had almost 5 million soldiers stationed around the world, and they all stepped down without a shot being fired. The Chernobyl disaster also played a huge role in separating these 15 republics, but that event was so huge that I would cover it in a dedicated blog.

Because of all the reasons discussed, the fall was bound to happen, and it was almost impossible to prevent it. The only thing that could have happened was the delay of the downfall. The fall of the USSR has resulted in the modern-day war between Russia and Ukraine, and even a threat of World War 3 has risen. To understand the present situation, please refer to the following blog.

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