Gorbachev was to blame for the collapse of the USSR for various reasons, mainly because of his two new policies, ‘Glasnost’ (New Freedom and Openness) and ‘Perestroika’ (Economic Restructuring). However, there were a few external factors which helped cause the collapse of the USSR, such as the effect Yeltsin had on Russia and how countries were growing tired of the whole communist system itself. Gorbachev's intention was to make the communist system work better by allowing people to have their say in how the system could be improved and to make the Soviet system of central planning of production more efficient. However, it just allowed people to openly criticize the system and soon people wanted to get rid of it.
Firstly, the Cold War created a crisis in the USSR. The arms race with the USA had become so expensive that Soviet living standards became worse as more money was spent on weapons. Soviet Farming was inefficient; there wasn’t enough food, so tonnes of grain had to be imported from the USA. The communist government was becoming more and more corrupt and was unable to meet demands of high living standards like the west for the Soviet people. The USSR had been at war with Afghanistan since 1979. The war was a complete disaster because it cost billions of dollars and 15 000 Soviet troops were killed. Already people ruled under Communism were beginning to feel uneasy.
Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 in the USSR and radically changed Soviet Policies. He became General Secretary of the Communist Party. He was more open to the west than previous leaders and offered a solution for the current situation. He introduced two major new policies, Glasnost and Perestroika. Glasnost meant New Freedom and Openness. In this policy the Soviet people won new rights. Firstly thousands of political prisoners were released, including the infamous Andrei Sakharov. People were told of the atrocities committed by Stalin’s dictatorial government. Free speech was allowed and military conscription was to be abolished. Perestroika meant Economic restructuring. Gorbachev wanted to make the system of production more efficient, however corruption in the Soviet government was too great. So he was unable to see through his plans.
Gorbachev changed foreign policy. In 1987, a disarmament treaty was signed, called the INF (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces). The USSR and the USA agreed to remove all medium range missiles from Europe within three years. In 1988, Gorbachev announced the immediate reduction in the weapons stockpile and the number of troops in the Soviet armed forces. Gorbachev tried to improve relations with the west. He met the US president Reagan several times, one of which was at the Geneva Summit in 1985. In 1988, Gorbachev abandoned the Brezhnev Doctrine. He told the UN that people now had a choice in Eastern Europe and that the USSR wasn’t going to control them anymore. Gorbachev announced the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988.
In 1978, the communist Afghan government secured a treaty with the USSR that allowed them to ask for military assistance when they required it to fight against the Mujahideen rebels. In 1979, they requested for tanks and helicopters, this was approved. They then started asking for platoons. The USSR was now a bit hesitant on approving this. In July 1979, American president Jimmy Carter funded for the Afghan rebels and allowed them to buy more and better weapons. Also the CIA conducted anti communist propaganda in the vicinities. In September, the Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan, Hafizullah Amin took power after the shooting of President Taraki. The Soviets saw this as destabilising and on December 27th they decided to invade Afghanistan in an attempt to stabilise the communist government. It lasted nine years, and was referred to as the Soviet’s Vietnam. The USSR's...