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Russia: The End of the Cold War and Beyond

From the time the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan up to 1988, it was impossible to sign any political treaties with the Soviets. The events that preceded the end of the Cold War began with President Reagan’s trip to Moscow. For the first time in history, President Reagan spent a number of days in Moscow visiting different sites and meeting with Soviet people in the company of Gorbachev, the general secretary of the Soviet Union. This meeting fostered good relationship with Russia and the Soviet society. The end of the Cold War was preceded by three major acts signed between 1989 and 1991. After the visit by President Reagan, Gorbachev conducted several concessions on arms control and pledged to reduce the number of Soviet forces by half a million. He also withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan and accepted ‘par human values’ to replace class warfare. Being convinced that Gorbachev was ready for compromise and dialogue, and having suffered disappointments with ditente’, President George Bush set high rules for negotiations. They were surprised when the Soviet Union was willing to pay the price.

In the fall of 1989, the Soviet outer empire collapsed. This was followed by a collapse and later dissolution of Warsaw Pact. In addition, another treaty was signed which reduced the superiority of Soviets in Europe. This strengthened the Western alliances to an extent that the US withdrew its troops from Europe to Persian Gulf to war against Iraq.

The final act saw the dissolution of the USSR. The Soviet nations started advocating for sovereignty and secession from Moscow. During the same period, Gorbachev had initiated domestic reforms. He faced a setback with hardliners that slowed down reforms and the population that demanded quick reforms. Gorbachev’s political life started dwindling. He attempted to convince the Communist Party to abandon their political dominance and accept free elections. This appeal led to a struggle between him and the Communist Party’s loyalists, who culminated to an attempted coup. For three consecutive days, there was a lot of confusion on who exactly was in charge and what steps the military would have to take. Yeltsin took advantage of the opportunity and positioned himself ready to replace Gorbachev. However, the military backed off and the ousting attempt failed. Yeltsin gained popularity and, in 1991, Gorbachev resigned from his position of General Secretary of Soviet Union. This saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the onset of nationalism in Eastern Europe. On 25th December 1991, the Soviet flag was lowered and replaced by Russian banner. A few states opted for independence while the majority of the republics became members of a loose confederation which was termed as Commonwealth of Independent States. The USSR was officially dissolved on 31st December 1991. This marked the historic end of the Cold War.

Beyond The Cold War

The Cold War was a huge financial outlet for the Russian government. The USSR heavily invested into the continuing arms race with the USA. The end of the Cold War was marked with a huge reduction in the arms financing. The USSR cut down their spending on weapons. This was a plan aimed at helping their economy to recover. The economy had been crippled by the heavy financing towards arms. The funds were then diverted to constructive economic policies that would bring success. The heavy investment in arms had hurt the USSR economy rather significantly. The situation could not even be compared with the Great Depression that hit the USA and Germany in the 1930s. Many people were jobless at the time.

The end of the Cold War saw the USSR break into several independent states. Each satellite state crumbled for independence from the central USSR control. This saw the independence of countries like Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic among the rest. Some countries became independent soon after the end of the Cold War while others demanded for their independence much later. Slovakia is an example of a country that demanded for its independence many years after the end of the Cold War. Most of the countries that initially formed the USSR formally joined the newly formed European Union. The EU became the largest trading block in the western region.

Rapid change of political standings became evident in the USSR states. This region has previously been governed by communism ideologies. All industries and investments belonged to the government. Capitalism and nationalism approaches soon took the center stage. The nationalism ideology also created renewed push for independence among the USSR members’ states. The disintegration of the USSR should, however, not be confused for a split in the world. It is important to note that globalization soon became common. Globalization was a fresh philosophy of unity. There was a move to have the whole world unite into one unit. Trade was to go on from country to country. Business men from foreign countries also moved in to invest in other countries. This was the new phase of the world.

Globalization also took effect in Russia. The newly formed Russian government opened its shores to international students and investors. The USA became the only superpower with its military support to many nations. The USA created military allies all over the world. This was, however, not meant for war purposes. The Russian companies soon started looking for raw materials from foreign lands. This was another form of globalization. The newly formed states also engaged in business within the EU umbrella. Each state soon became strong and sovereign. Some are very stable world economies as of today.

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