The End of an Era

The Soviet Union faced many changes in the twentieth century; whether it be leadership change, social growth, industrial advancement, or impacts from different wars, the Soviet Union went through a dynamic transformation that all came to a head by the early 1990’s. After months of efforts to halt the inevitable or must some kind of alternate resolution, the USSR was officially dissolved on Christmas Day, 1991, as President Gorbachev resigned (Freeze 464).

This dissolution did not come out of no where though, months of decisions and debates lead to the final act. The August 1991 coup ended up speeding up the end even though it was meant to stop the weakening of the USSR. Other factors played a role: Constituent republics began to declare independence, all-union institutions were ended while their assets went to the republics, and an over all understanding and acceptance of these pulled away from the strength of the Soviet nation (Siegelbaum). Gorbachev tried hard to preserve the Soviet Union as a federal state and in April 1991 arranged a national referendum. A majority voted to maintain the USSR, but the nationalist movements that had emerged could did not change (Freeze 463). The “New Union Treaty”was his last attempt to save the USSR as it worked to transform the Soviet state into a loose confederation with a common presidency, foreign policy and military (Freeze 463).

Despite different efforts, the end of the USSR came as the end of the year approached. December turned out to be the month in which the fatal blows to the Soviet Union were delivered.


Voters in the Ukraine approved the referendum on independence and elected their first president, Leonid Kravchuk. Only a week later on December 8, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the three main Slavic republics, came together and agreed to dissolve the USSR without consulting the other republics (Freeze 464). The Belavezh Accord was signed making it official. On December 21, the presidents of all the other republics with the exception of Georgia and the three Baltic states, declared their willingness to enter the Commonwealth (Siegelbaum). A mere four days later,  Gorbachev announced his acceptance of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.





3 thoughts on “The End of an Era

  1. I also appreciate the irony that while the USSR always declared itself a fraternal bond of nations, ultimately the decision to dissolve the Union was made by slavs (just as the decision mo form the Union was made by slavs.)


  2. Great title that not only explains your post, but the end of the semester! It is interesting to see, as the other commenters pointed out, that you show the irony of the situation with the Union. Really cool post!


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