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Consequences of the Soviet Union Breakup

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 8 months, 4 weeks ago


Focus Question:  What were the consequences of the Soviet Union’s breakup?


Topics on the Page


A. the development of market economies


B. political and social instability


C. the danger of the spread of nuclear technology and other technologies of mass destruction to rogue states and terrorist organizations




The Berlin Airlift and the Berlin Wall


The Cold War Between the US and USSR


external image USSR_Republics_Numbered_Alphabetically.png

Focus Question: What were the consequences of the breakup of the Soviet Union?


Post-Soviet States: 1) Armenia, 2) Azerbaijan, 3) Belarus, 4) Estonia, 5) Georgia, 6) Kazakhstan, 7) Kyrgyzstan, 8) Latvia, 9) Lithuania, 10) Moldova, 11) Russia, 12) Tajikistan, 13) Turkmenistan, 14) Ukraine, 15) Uzbekistan

The break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 can be traced to three core issues:

Core Issue 1. The nomenklatura, or the Soviet bureaucratic elite who were attempting to accumulate and privatize property and wealth, rather than protect what was already established.


Black Skin in Red Land: A few accounts of what it was like to be a Black immigrant in the Soviet Union.


Mikhail Gorbachov, 1991

Core Issue 2. Mikhail Gorbachov's mishandling of his political and economic reforms (specifically his market economy plans).

  • The economic structure of the Soviet Union relied too heavily on agriculture to become a global market force.


  • The government spent large amounts of capital on building factories, while worker productivity could not keep up.


  • This article describes the failed economic policy of the Soviet Union.


  • Gorbachev introduced democratic policies, undermining the communist system of government.


  • Gorbachev liberalized the economy, permitting individual enterprise, giving factories more power, and legalizing co-operatives.


  • Read the details of Gorbachev's economic reform program called Perestroika.


  • Read the details of Gorbachev's political reform program called Glasnost.
    • Click here to read about Glasnost and Prestroika.


Click here for a video specifically about Glasnot and Prestroika.



Click here for a song on the Fall of the Soviet Union from the History Channel.


Click here for candid photos of the Soviet Union during its collapse.


Click here to listen to BBC's The History Hour podcast on the Collapse of the Soviet Union | Apple Music | Spotify


Students recreate Soviet Union break up

Map Detailing Soviet Union Break Up

2011: Russians regret Soviet Union collapse, and in 2012: support dwindling for USSR but still 56%.

Backlash against Gorbachev: Attempted Coup of 1991

Core Issue 3. The power displacement resulting from Boris Yeltsin overthrowing the Soviet state to replace the president, Gorbachev.


President Clinton and President Yeltsin, Istanbul, Nov 18, 1999

President Clinton and President Yeltsin, Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Nov 18, 1999

Click here for a biography on Boris Yeltsin.

From Foreign Policy: Everything You Know about the Soviet Break Up in Wrong.

Consequences of the break up:

A. the development of market economies

  • Prior to the break up of the USSR all the countries contained within this area were socialist economies.
    • socialist economy is one in which the means of production are controlled by the state.
    • The market prices of all goods are set by the state


  • After the fall of the USSR, most of the region abandoned socialism and wanted to make a move towards capitalism.


  • The way to do this is to attempt to implement a market economy.
    • A market economy is essentially the polar opposite of what this area had before.
    • In a market economy the means of production are controlled by the free market.
    • The free market is also what sets the prices of goods.
    • So Russia and the other former nations of the USSR were moving from a situation where the government set the prices to one where prices are set by the market.



B. political and social instability


Events leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Click here to watch Ronald Reagan's famous "Tear Down This Wall" Speech


Click Here to watch NBC Footage of the Fall of the Berlin Wall


Click Here to watch an interview with a woman who watched the Berlin Wall fall

Link here for more on the Berlin Wall

  • Soviet violence in Baku, Azerbaijan against the Popular Front, an organization fighting for independence from the Soviet State, resulting in over 100 deaths.

C. the danger of the spread of nuclear technology and other technologies of mass destruction to rogue states and terrorist organizations


  • The collapse of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics radically changed the world's economic and political environment.


  • No other conflict of interest dominated the post World War Two world like the Cold War did.


  • One man is widely associated with the ending the Cold War, Mikhail Gorbachev.
    • This however was not the biggest event Gorbachev was part of during his time in power.


  • The end of the cold war was a by-product of the other major event he was involved with, that is the fall of communism in the USSR and the collapse of the USSR itself.


  • During 1994, the Russian Federation and NATO signed an agreement called the "Partnership for Peace".
    • It was hoped that this agreement would help forge ties between the old Warsaw Pact nations and NATO.


Click here to read about the atomic bombs that were lost after the USSR collapse.

Effect on Cuba

  • Fall of the Soviet Union had a huge impact on Cuba
    • Called the "Special Period"
  • Lost 80% of imports and exports
    • Lost import of oil, medicines, and food
    • People began to starve
  • GDP fell by 34%
  • Transportation and agriculture were slowed or stopped completely
  • Power outages were common
  • Malnutrition became more common

Click here for more information.

Article detailing the situation in Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Due to the lack of fossil fuels, the transportation industry drastically slowed.
Due to the lack of fossil fuels, the transportation industry drastically slowed. 


Cohen, Stephen. The breakup of the Soviet Union ended Russia's march to democracy. The Guardian.

Brown, Archie. Reform, Coup, and Collapse: The End of the Soviet State. BBC.

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