The Fall Of The USSR

The Fall Of The USSR

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was the biggest nation in the world, approximately covering a sixth of Earth’s total land surface. The European area lied on a quarter of the country’s area, and was the cultural and economic center. The eastern part of the country extended up to the Pacific Ocean in the east and reached Afghanistan in the south. The Soviet Union included 11 time zones and five climatic zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert, and mountains. In addition, the country was highly rich in various resources: freshwater (Lake Baikal), oil, natural gas, gold among other valuable resources.

The Russian Empire of the Tsars was later overthrown in 1917 while its successor the Soviet Union faced the same fate through disintegration in 1991. The two were the largest states in the world covering a combined area of about 15 per cent of the world’s land surface and almost a hundred times the size of Great Britain. They embraced every kind of soil and climate, from the permanently frozen Arctic to the Central Asian tropics. A large part of the country experiences a harsh continental climate with the main agricultural areas located at the latitude of Canada and the northern United States. In contrast, the severe conditions lead to a variation in the annual produce from the farms.[1]

Such was the might of the Soviet Union that in 1921, the Bolsheviks were proclaimed the victors in the civil war. The victory was celebrated as an accomplishment that would be one of the great triumphs in official lore for the rest of the Soviet era. In fact, growing opposition to these exactions was the principal development that convinced Lenin to change course in the direction of what soon became known as the new Economic Policy.[2]

  1. I. Lenin was the organizer of the Russian Communist movement. He viewed the Russian Empire as one political and economic whole, and almost completely ignored its national differences. As a student of Marxism, Lenin neglected the national problem and centered his attention on theorizing the capitalist development of Russia. Both as a Russian idealist and as a Marxist Utopian, Lenin failed to comprehend the inner nature of national problems and demands. Accordingly, he observed and solved the problems in accordance with the interests of the center rather than with those of the periphery.

The Treaty of the USSR signed in 1922 would prove to be a turning point to the life of the Soviet Union as many delegate arrived in Moscow. These delegates sourced from different convened at the Bolshoi conference with an ultimate goal of signing the so-called Treaty of the USSR, which meant the creation of the biggest state based on Marxism-Leninism ideology. As a result, the country was made up of 15 constituent parts: Russia itself, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Latvia, and Estonia. The Soviet Union existed for almost 70 years falling apart in August, 1991.

Soviet approaches to the Ukrainian SSR, Belorussian SSR, and other Republics, suggest that the Soviet regimes saw the Union’s component parts not simply as colonies to be absorbed or nations to be liberated, but as the raw material for a unified Soviet Socialist society. In their continuing discussions about the national question, Soviet leaders, administrators, and experts distinguished between “advanced” nationalities (for example, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians) whose nationalistic impulses endangered less-developed settlers, and “backward” citizens and ethnographic groups that required the assistance of Soviet to attain a higher national-cultural development.[3]

The Russian revolution of 1917 was sparked by protesting women who lamented the abuse form their government. On 23 February 1917 thousands of female textile-workers took to the streets of Petrograd, the Russian capital, to protest about bread shortage and to mark International Women’s Day. The following day, more than 200,000 workers were on strike and demonstrators marched to the city centre. By 25 February, students and members of the middle classes had joined the protesters with placards proclaiming ‘Down with the War’ and ‘Down with the Tsarist Government’.[4] On 26 February, soldiers from the garrison were ordered to fire on the crowds, killing hundreds. The next morning the Volynskii regiment mutinied thus prompting other units following suit and in effect giving birth to a revolution. The February Revolution gave rise to a short-lived mood of national unity and optimism.[5]

Later on, there would be an October uprising timed to coincide with the eve of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. On the night of 24-5 October (6-7 November, New Style) Red Guards and pro-Bolshevik troops, organized by Trotsky, seized key points in the city. Kerensky, the head minister of the Provisional Government, had belatedly announced plans for the election of a constituent assembly. However, he fled away from the capital after the Bolsheviks struck, and his colleagues were arrested by the insurgents in the Winter Palace. This provided an opportunity for Lenin to establish a military dictatorship, exercised through the Red Guard and the pro-Bolshevik garrison troops. The first ‘Leninist decrees’ were of decisive significance. The ‘Decree on Land' abolished private ownership and authorized local committees and Soviets to distribute all private and church lands to the peasants according to ‘labor norm’. Lenin’s most pressing need was peace with Germany as evidenced by negotiations that began on 22 December 1917, and ended only on 3 March 1918 with the signature of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.

The Civil war broke out in 191

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