The USA and USSR were the two leading nations in the 20th century. After World War II, the two countries became global powerhouses. Thus, began the Cold War. And once the USSR dissolved, it was the end of bipolarity.
After the 1917 Russian Socialist Revolution, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed. The revolution was motivated by socialist ideas and a more egalitarian society than capitalism. Following WWII, the Soviet army took control of the East European countries rescued from fascist forces by the Soviet army. The Soviet Union’s economic and political systems changed. The end of bipolarity also gave rise to new countries coming into global existence.
The Soviet Union
The Soviet economy developed faster than the rest of the world, except the United States. The Soviet system, on the other hand, became increasingly bureaucratic and dictatorial. It made life extremely difficult for the people who lived there. In the weapons competition, the Soviet Union could equal the US on occasion, but only at an enormous expense.
Gorbachev and the Fall of the Soviet Union
Mikhail Gorbachev, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s General Secretary since 1985, wanted to change the system. Perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) were his economic and political reform strategies (openness). However, his policies were eventually criticised.
In 1991, a coup was staged, aided by Communist Party hardliners. The masses desired freedom rather than the Communist Party’s old-style dictatorship. The Soviet Union was declared disintegrated in December 1991 by Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, the three major republics of the USSR. Capitalism and democracy were adopted as the post-Soviet republics’ foundations.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union: Causes and Consequences
The collapse of the Soviet Union was caused by several factors; internal flaws in Soviet political and economic structures failed to match people’s expectations.
The Soviet Union’s economy grew stagnant. Much of the Soviet economy’s resources were spent sustaining a nuclear and military arsenal. The Soviet Union, too, became dormant due to widespread corruption, a refusal to allow more openness in administration, and the centralisation of power across a broad territory.
Gorbachev’s changes did not sit well with some members of society. The reforms made by Gorbachev were thought to be moving at a snail’s pace. The growth of nationalism and the yearning for sovereignty inside several republics, especially Russia and the Baltic republics, was another factor in the USSR’s demise. It resulted in the conclusion of Cold War hostilities.
As the balance of power in world politics shifted, so did the relative impact of ideas and institutions. The fall of the Soviet Union paved the ground for the birth of a slew of new countries. Each of these countries has its objectives and choices. Many new participants entered the international system, each with their own identity, objectives, and economic and political challenges.
The paradigm of transition to a democratic capitalist from an authoritarian socialist system in Russia, Central Asia, and East Europe, influenced by the IMF and the World Bank, became known as ‘Shock Therapy.’
The collapse of Communism triggered this transformation phase. It was necessary to conduct a complete transition to a capitalist economy, which entailed utterly eradicating any structures developed during the Soviet era. Shock therapy also required a significant shift in these economies’ external focus. It included dismantling existing commercial ties among the Soviet bloc countries.
Consequences of Shock Therapy
Shock therapy wreaked havoc on economies and the people’s reign. The Russian currency, the ‘Ruble,’ plummeted in value. Due to the high inflation rate, people lost all their money. Subsidies were cut by the government, pushing many individuals into poverty. The middle classes were pushed to society’s margins.
The development of democratic institutions did not receive the same attention or priority as the demands of economic transformation. Most of these economies, particularly Russia’s, began to recover in 2000, ten years after gaining independence. Exporting natural resources such as oil, natural gas, and minerals fuelled the resurgence.
Former Soviet Republics: Tensions and Conflicts
Most former Soviet countries had tensions and conflicts, and many experienced civil wars and insurgencies.
Chechnya and Dagestan, two Russian republics, experienced violent secessionist movements.
Until 2001, Tajikistan was engulfed in a civil war that lasted nearly ten years. There were numerous sectarian wars in the region.
Central Asia has also become a battleground for international forces and energy firms.
Czechoslovakia was split in two, with the Czechs and Slovaks creating separate countries.
Yugoslavia disintegrated, with several provinces proclaiming independence, including Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.
India in the Post-Communist World
All the post-communist countries have friendly relations with India. India’s most important relationship is still with Russia. The relationship between India and Russia is an integral part of India’s foreign policy. Both countries agree on the importance of multipolar world order.
India benefited from Russian assistance on Kashmir, energy supplies, Central Asian access, and balancing its relations with China. Because India is Russia’s second-largest arms market, this connection will benefit Russia. Both countries have worked together on numerous scientific projects.
After the dissolution of the USSR, it was the end of bipolarity. In the 20th century, the world got divided between two powers. After World War II, the Cold War started, and the world swiftly took two stances, some being on the side of the USA and others being on the side of the USSR. However, with the end of bipolarity after the USSR dissolved, many transformations took place globally. China’s rise is a peculiar example of the outcome. USSR’s dissolution gave more power to the USA to rise in supremacy among the world players.