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The Dissolution of the USSR


On 8 December 1991, at a secret meeting in Belorussia, the leaders of the three Slavic core republics—Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia—Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislau Shushkevich, on their own authority declared the USSR dissolved and announced the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as a new entity and as a framework for coordinating their economic and strategic relations.  


On 21 December, at a meeting in the Kazakhstan capital of Alma-Ata, to which Gorbachev was not invited, eight more republics joined the CIS. The Alma-Ata declaration stated: “With the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ceases to exist.”

Thus, on the eve of the sixty-nine anniversary of its creation, the USSR was dissolved peacefully and without bloodshed, simply by the stroke of the pens of eleven leaders of its former constituent republics. Four signatures were missing from the declaration, as the leaders of Georgia and the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia declined to join the Alma-Ata accord. This was not because they were against the dissolution of the USSR, but because they believed that their republics’ incorporation into the USSR had been unlawful in the first place and they did not wish to participate in any alliances with the former sister republics (Georgia, however, would join the CIS in 1993).

Gorbachev’s signature was also absent from the declaration: none of the republican leaders wanted to know his opinion on the fate of the union. The Soviet leader was left without a country to rule and had no choice but to resign, which he did on 25 December 1991.

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The USSR's Collapse


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