End of the Cold War and the USSR


Economic and Social Problems in USSR

  • USSR economic growth slowed to 2% in 1970s
  • Low quality of goods, no consumer goods and lack of raw materials
  • $80 billion given to Eastern bloc
  • Only 8800 computers 1985 compared to US's 6 billion
  • 25% GNP spent on military- lack of growth
  • Communist parties often corrupt, limited political freedom- political prisoners locked in mental intitutions
  • High alchoholism, suicide, mental health issues
  • Charter 77 and Helsinki Watch Committees exposing human rights abuses
  • 1989 pulled troops out of Afghanistan
  • 1983 USSR shot down Korean Aircraft- created tension
  • NATO 1983 Able Archer- Defcon 1
1 of 7

Reagan and Gorbachev

  • Reagan referred to USSR as 'evil empire' in 1983
    • Largest peacetime military buildup in US history, 30% federal budget e.g. Trident
    • Reagan Doctrine assisting anti-communist groups e.g. $687 billion to Mujahedin
    • SDI launched 1984- space lasers to intercept missiles
    • Thatcher encouraging- missles in UK
    • Restricted trade with USSR to grain, oil and technology
  • Gorbachev leader of USSR from 1985, New Thinking approach:
    • Perestroika- reduced military spending to improve living standards
    • Glasnost- political openess in politics
    • Said he would no longer use military force in Eastern Europe
  • Geneva Summit 1985- Gorby wanted to end SDI but Reagan said SDI was essential, established good working relationship
  • Reykjavik Summit 1986- Gorby proposed elimination of all nuclear weapons but Reagan still wanted SDI
  • INF Treaty 1987- commited to removal of all ICMs from Europe, end to SDI
  • Moscow Summit 1988- agreement to extend trade/ technology links
  • Matla Summit 1889- Gorby and Bush declare the Cold War at an end
  • START 1 Treaty 1991- agreeing to decrease nuclear weapons
2 of 7

Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe

  • Poland, encouraged by Pope John Paul II, emergence of Solidarity 1980
    • Jaruzelski originally supressed with martial law
    • Result of Sinatra Doctrine, Solidarity legalised and multi-party elections introduced
    • Creation of Democratic government under Lech Walesa 1990
  • Hungary 1988 hardline Kadar sacked
    • Government dominated by reformers, opened borders 1989- East Germans escaping to Austria (125,000 in September)
  • East Germany, Hockner removed by Politburo
    • Krenz (new leader) refused to repress the demonstrations
    • November Berlin Wall dismantled by the people 1989
    • End of ideological split, and formation of new political groups e.g. New Forum
    • 1990 election favoured re-unification, re-unifed October 1990
  • Czechoslovakia 1989 communist make concessions in response to protest
    • Civic Forum Organisation formed to get rid of government, Havel president 1989
    • Little violence- know as the Velvet Revolution
  • Romania- Ceausascu sent army to supress demonstrations, 71 killed
    • Later demonstration, army refused to supress, Ceasescu and wife fled, executed Xmas
3 of 7

1991 Coup

  • 1991 Yeltsin as President of Russia
  • Gorby very unpopular in USSR, failed to improve living standards, inflation, strikes etc.
  • Glasnost meant people could now criticise the political system, Stalin's terror details released
  • Union of Soverign States about to be signed releasing Baltic states from USSR
  • Conservatives in CPSU disapproved, staged coup aginst Gorby
  • Yeltsin emerged as leader- communist party made illegal
  • Baltic states independance in 1990 and remaining republics in Dec 1991 = USSR dissolved
4 of 7

Russia under Yeltsin

  • Policy of Shock Therapy:
    • Rapid liberalisation, overnight removal of price controls = hyper inflation
    • Privitisation of state assets, enterprise not competitive = collapse of old industries, rise of old elite and oligarchs who brough up assets
  • 1993 39-49% population in poverty, 1.5% under communism, increased crime, alchoholism, death rates BUT more consumer goods
  • Invaded Checnya 1994 to reassert control
    • 14,000 deaths, 200,000 injuries
    • Guerllia war that encouraged radical Islam (Taliban)
  • 1993 Parliament crisis- insisted Yelstin resign and declared Rutskoi as leader
    • Yelstin besieged parliament with troops, erected barricades and shut of phones/heating
    • Yeltsin won, but massive anti-Yeltsin protests and Communsits did better in next election
5 of 7


  • Death of Tito in 1980 = rise of nationalism
  • Huge economic problems, 300% inflation, PM Makovic introduced shock therapy meaning only party for political reform associated with unpopular policy
  • 1991 Croatia and Slovenia declared independance, Serbian leader Milosevic marched in with Yugoslav army- Civl War between Croats and Serbs in Croatia
  • Milosevic wanted an 'ethnically pure' Greater Serbia- 100,000 killed
  • 1995 Bosnia-Serb forced attacked safe haven of Srebrenica, 8000 killed, women *****
  • West had to intevene with 1995 Drayton Peace Agreement and 1999 NATO bombing ending the war
6 of 7

Aftermath of Communism

  • Germany had slow economy growth despite Eastern Economy Recovery Programme
  • Rise of neo-Nazi groups and racism
  • Sense of ostaglie amongst Easterns for life in the GDR and 'wall in your head' between East and West
  • Czechoslovakia seperated in 1993 into Czech Republic and Slovenia due to nationalist tensions
  • Relatively prosperous due to export markets and tourism
  • Coalition government created in 1989 and 95% population voted
  • Removal of 95% price controls, low unemployment and first ex-communist country to recieved investment trade credit
7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Cold War resources »