The Fall of the Soviet Union

How did it all come to a close?



Russian President Boris Yeltsin conducts a speech relating to the coup, and cutting off military ties with the Soviet Union.

Ellie Solovyev, Contributor

There are many events that go on in the month of December alone, whether it be historic or in the present. One of these various events happens to be the collapse of the Soviet Union. Occurring in the early 1990’s, there was quite a chain of events that led up to this and it was evident that the State of the Soviet Union was deteriorating. In addition, the Soviet Union was ruled by the Communist party, which had been a large factor in the republic’s demise.  

It had begun like this. Then Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, had been on a vacation, when he had received a request from four officials demanding that he sign a document declaring a state of emergency that would transfer executive power to the vice president, Gennady Yanayev. In light of this, Gorbachev had refused with his rising suspicion, and marked the officials as “treasonous blackmailers.” In rebuttal, Gorbachev and his wife had ended up being placed on house arrest with communication being cut off, which had been portrayed as a “sick leave” on the media. Since Gorbachev had been unable to execute his duties, Yanayev had taken power under the Soviet constitution. This was the inception of the coup which, spoiler alert, would establish the Communist Party’s downfall, bringing the Soviet Union along with it. In short, this coup, which had failed mainly because first, KGB agents had refused to storm the White House, or Russian Parliament building, and second, Boris Yeltsin. 

Boris Yeltsin had been the Russian president at the time, having been democratically elected, he had countered the officials going against Gorbachev by declaring the coup going on to be illegal and traitorous. Yeltsin had also banned any Soviet control for the time being, until Gorbachev had returned to his position. Once Gorbachev did indeed return from his leave of nearly a week of house arrest, Yeltsin had actually shaken off any military relation with the Soviet Union. In the same day, Gorbachev had officially left the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) although remained in the party. In essence, this coup had led to the end of Soviet communism. Gorbachev had been trying to preserve the Union, but the result was already evident. Other republics apart of this Union had begun declaring independence, such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, and Armenia. The whole Union had started to spiral out of control. In the end, the Soviet Union had disbanded in a peaceful manner. With Gorbachev resigning, Yeltsin had been left to become the president of the Russian territory. 

To conclude, the fall of the Soviet Union had been a long chain of events, but it was evident that it would not last. It had been on December 25, 1991 that the Soviet hammer and sickle flag had lowered for the final time. There is no knowing exactly how the world would have turned out if the Soviet Union had never fallen, but it has, and with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine occurring currently, it may be vital to know the roots.