On Christmas Day 1991, at 7:35 p.m., the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin was lowered and replaced by the new Russian Federation flag. The USSR officially ceased to exist on
December 31, 1991. The fall of the Soviet Union signified the end of the Cold War (Nye 2). Obviously, this was a huge moment in our world’s history; a 44-year-old tension between two of the most powerful countries in the world, which almost brought us to a combative war, was destroyed. But how did something that seemed so improbable one decade previously occur so peacefully? The reform by Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan’s coercion as well as reform, and the failures in the Soviet Union and its fall were all factors that led to the end of the Cold War.
First, we must analyze the decisions of Mikhail Gorbachev, who dissolved the Soviet Union and ended the Cold War. Gorbachev, as a leader, contributed by bringing Western ideals to Soviet Russia, ultimately thawing the conflict between the USSR and the United States and ending communism in Russia (Hogan 12). When he came to power, Gorbachev did not want to bring down the Soviet Union; he wanted to rather reform it while maintaining Communism (Gaddis 67). However, his reforms not only made his relationship with the United States better, but his decisions led to democratization in Russia. Gorbachev changed the direction of the Soviet Union by introducing a less aggressive, more defensive foreign policy, and taking steps with regards to arms reduction. This changed the tone of the Cold War drastically. By signing the
Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty, which reduced the stockpile of nuclear weapons in both America and the Soviet Union, the competition that had originally started the Cold War had been eliminated (Wittner 22). As for the the Iron Curtain that made the Soviet Union such an enemy, Gorbachev announced extreme troop reduction in Eastern Europe as well as in occupied parts...