George H. W. Bush: Address to the Nation on the Commonwealth of Independent States

(1991)

On Christmas Day 1991 the president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mikhail Gorbachev, resigned his post, declaring the presidency of the USSR defunct and recognizing the dissolution of the Soviet Union. His resignation marked the culmination of a number of dramatic geopolitical events that had dominated the news in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cracks in the Soviet sphere of influence began to emerge when the pro-Soviet governments in Hungary and Poland collapsed. In November 1989 the Berlin Wall dividing Communist East Berlin and democratic West Berlin fell, and East and West Germany reunified in 1990. Pro-independence movements began in the Soviet republic of Lithuania in 1988 and spread to Estonia and Latvia in 1990. Also in 1990 the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agreed to end its monopoly and allow competitive multiparty elections in the Soviet republics. Throughout this period, Gorbachev appeared to be abandoning the ideological...

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Pieces of the Berlin Wall displayed at the Newseum museum, Arlington, Virginia (Library of Congress)

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