Collapse of the Soviet Union

Post-Cold War Europe

Europe 1991.1225

Collapse of the Soviet Union

Europe after the Cold War (25 December 1991)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

The failure of the August coup broke the Communist Party and ended Soviet dominance. Real power now lay in the hands of the component republics, such as Russia and Ukraine. On December 25, unable to stop the republics from asserting their independence, Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

Main Events

Independence of Belarus

The Republic of Belarus declared its independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, in accordance with the Belavezha Accords agreed between itself, Russia, and Ukraine two days earlier.

Russian independence

The Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic formally ratified the Belavezha Accords, renouncing the 1922 Treaty of Union, and recalled its deputies from the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This effectively marked its secession from the USSR.

Independence of Kazakhstan

The Republic of Kazakhstan declared its independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was the last republic to secede.

Georgian Civil War

Rebels seized control of much of Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia, forming the Military Council and forcing the government of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia to flee the country. Fighting between the two factions continued, complicated by secessionist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, until the Military Council was able to secure control over most of the country under President Eduard Shevardnadze.

Dissolution of the Soviet Union

On the morning of 25 December 1991, in a nationally televised speech, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, declaring the office extinct and ceding all its powers to Russian president Boris Yeltsin. At 7:32 pm that night, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time in Moscow and the Russian tricolor raised in its place, symbolically marking the end to the Soviet Union and the independence of the eleven remaining Soviet republics.

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