From Washington to Moscow: US-Soviet Relations and the Collapse of the USSR
Louis Sell is a retired Foreign Service officer who served twentyseven years with the US Department of State, specializing in Soviet and Balkan affairs. He is the author of
Red Star Falling
This chapter describes Gorbachev’s doomed efforts to negotiate a new union treaty; the catastrophic economic situation across the USSR; Yeltsin’s decision to adopt a sweeping, separate program of economic reform in Russia; the December Ukrainian independence referendum, which marked the practical end of any efforts to revive the USSR; the shift in US policy toward embracing the Soviet disintegration; and the Beloveshka meeting where leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus announced the formal dissolution of the USSR. It reveals, based on accounts by participants, an apparent effort by Gorbachev to encourage military intervention to block the USSR’s impending disintegration. It concludes with a discussion how as the USSR began to come apart Soviet party and intelligence figures covertly transferred money into private accounts, a process that helped create the foundations for Russian crony capitalism of the 1990s and the corrupt kleptocracy of Putin’s Russia.