The Soviet Union or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) existed as a single party communist state from 1922 until 1991. The Soviet Union encompassed many eastern European countries as well as some Asian countries. The largest country to be a part of the Soviet Union was Russia and its capital city of Moscow was also the capital city of the Soviet Union. The other eastern European countries included in the former Soviet Union were Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were also part of the Soviet Union prior to 1991. The Soviet Union was one of two world super powers after World War Two and continued to prosper until the 1980′s when political and social unrest caused its downfall.
What caused the collapse of the Soviet Union
The collapse of the Soviet Union started long before the end on the union. After emerging as one of the two great powers of the world after World War Two, the Soviet Union channeled all its money, research and professional expertise into the arms race. This meant that very little of the Soviet Union’s efforts were spent on domestic development. Some types of technology, such as computers, in the Soviet Union was second rate and people began to buy imported goods rather than those developed in their own country. This created a very unstable economy that stagnated in the 1980’s. Despite this the USSR continued to pour its funds and expertise into military development.
As the economy suffered the people began to become cynical and disbelieving of the government. They grew tired or the government controlled media. They were discouraged from talking about different political points of view and punished for believing anything different then what they were told. Many people were sent to labour camps for speaking out against the government. This further negatively impacted on government support and the Soviet Union began to show significant cracks.
The final blow to the Soviet Union was the last reforms of glasnost (political openness), uskoreniye (speed-up of economic development) and perestroika (political and economic restructuring) instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev. While his intentions were good, the new reforms opened the floodgates and exposed the many problems that lay behind the Soviet Union’s facade. The reforms created an atmosphere of open criticism of the communist regime. The media began to expose the negative side of the Soviet Union and the growing disillusionment with the communist government increased. The loss of the war in Afghanistan and the cover up of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident were brought to light, further damaging the peoples respect and trust in their government. Many began to see that they had been let down by their government and that there had to be a better way. This coupled with a failing economy that could not afford to feed the people, caused many of the communist states to rebel against the central leadership. As new ideas and truths were brought to light many different satellites states of the Soviet Union began to demand autonomy. The central united government of the Soviet Union disintegrated and on 26 December 1991 the Soviet Union ceased to exist.