Europe 1991: Baltic Independence
The first Soviet republics to break away were the Baltic states, whose 1940 annexation by the Soviet Union had never been recognized by the West. Lithuania had declared independence in 1990, with international pressure seeing off a Soviet attempt at reconquest. In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt, the Soviet Union recognized the independence of all three Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
20 Aug 1991 Estonian Independence▲
The government of Estonia proclaimed the reestablishment of the independent Estonian republic, declaring an end to its forced incorporation into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
21 Aug 1991 Latvian Independence▲
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia declared Latvian independence restored, ending its forced incorporation into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
27 Aug 1991 Independence of Moldova▲
The Republic of Moldova declared independence, seceding from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Independence was followed almost immediately by civil war in the east of the country as Soviet- and Russian-supported separatists seized control in Transnistria.
30 Aug 1991 Independence of Azerbaijan▲
On 30 August 1991, President Ayaz Mutalibov of the Azerbaijani Republic declared his country’s independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. After Mutalibov won presidential elections—albeit as the only candidate—on 8 September, the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan adopted the independence declaration on 18 October.
31 Aug 1991 Independence of Uzbekistan▲
The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic declared independence, seceding from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as the Republic of Uzbekistan.
6 Sep 1991 Baltic Independence▲
In the wake of the failed August Coup, the United States reconfirmed its recognition of Lithuanian independence on 2 September 1991. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics recognized the independence of all three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—four days later. The three countries would be accepted as members of the United Nations on 17 September.