USSR 1987-91: An Empire Self-Destructs

There seems to be a prevailing opinion in Russia and elsewhere that the Soviet Union broke up under the pressures of the Cold War. Wrong! The Cold War ended before the USSR fell apart. There also seems to be a conviction in Russia that the US and NATO somehow engineered the Soviet demise. Also wrong–in fact the opposite of the truth. The U.S. and its principal allies tried to help Gorbachev keep the USSR (minus the Baltic countries) in a voluntary union.

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for the Foreign Service Journal describing the work of the American Embassy in Moscow from 1987 to 1991 and explaining how the Embassy perceived the unraveling of the Communist state. The Soviet disintegration was instigated and led not by outsiders but by leaders inside the country, first of all and most importantly, the elected president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin. If Russians are nostalgic about the USSR and think its collapse was a disaster, they should look back at their own history and stop blaming outsiders.

If interested, you can find the text of my article here.

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