Chapter : 2

What Are The End Of Biopolarity ?

Part A - Contemporary World Politics

  • The Socialist Revolution in Russia in 1917 gave birth to USSR with inspiration of socialism, ensure a minimum standard of living for all its citizens and also the government subsidised basic necessities and productive assets were owned and controlled by the state.
  • After the Second World War, the East European countries that the Soviet army had liberated from the fascist forces came under the control of the USSR.
  • There was change in the economic and political system of the USSR. Then the Soviet economy became more developed than the rest of the world except the US.
  • Russia was the only republic among fifteen republics who dominated everything and people from other regions felt disregarded and often suppressed.
  • Soviet Union lagged behind the West in technology, infrastructure and could not fulfil political aspirations of people. Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 also weakened the system furthermore.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of Communist Party of Soviet Union in 1985 initiated the policies of economic and political reforms to democratise the system which were opposed by leaders within Communist Party and contradictory view of people.
  • The people of republic had been fed up with old-style rule of Soviet bloc and in December 1991, under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin (an elected leader), Russia, Ukraine and Belarus declared themselves independent.
  • Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the three major republics of the USSR, declared in December 1991 that the Soviet Union was disintegrated.
  • Capitalism and democracy were adopted as the bases for the post-Soviet republics.
  • The formation of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) came as a surprise and the exclusion of these states was resolved by making them founder members of the CIS.
  • Russia was accepted as the successor state of the Soviet Union by inheriting a Soviet seat in UN Security Council, it accepted all the international treaties and commitments of the Soviet Union and carried out some nuclear disarmament measures with the US.
  • Now Soviet Union had been disintegrated on the grounds to maintain nuclear and military arsenals, awareness of people of their backwardness than western capitalism as well as alienation of ordinary people who were exempted from any kind of privileges.
  • The rise of nationalism and the desire for sovereignty within republics like Russia, the Baltic Republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), Ukraine, Georgia and others proved to be the most immediate cause for disintegration of the USSR.
  • Disintegration of the USSR resulted into the end of Cold War confrontations, created dominant capitalist system and emerged many new states .
  • The advantage was taken by Central Asian countries of their geographical location by maintaining relations with Russia, the West, the US, China and others.
  • The process of transition from an authoritarian socialist system to a democratic capitalist system in Russia, Central Asia and East Europe that was influenced by the World Bank and the IMF came to be known as ‘shock therapy’.
  • Shock therapy involved privatisation of property, private firms emergence, complete switch over to free trade and foreign direct investment, financial opening up, currency convertibility as well as break up of existing trade alliances among the countries of Soviet bloc to maintain relations directly with the West.
  • Shock therapy resulted in the largest garage sale in history, declined the value of the Russian currency ‘Ruble’,
  • Due to inflation, food was imported, destroyed old social welfare system, migration of educated and intellectual manpower and disparities due to privatisation between rich and poor regions of Russia.
  • The constitutions of newly democratic institutions were drafted in a hurry where strong executives appointed themselves as presidents due to weak parliaments and lack of independent judiciary as in Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Russia revived in 2000 due to export of natural resources like oil, natural gas and minerals which were available in abundance in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And from where these pipelines crossed, were paid on rent.
  • Most of the former Soviet Republics had civil wars and insurgencies as in Russia, two republics Chechnya and Dagestan had violent secessionist movements.
  • In Central Asia, civil war took place in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Czechoslovakia was also split into two. Even countries and provinces like Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia are fighting over river waters leading to instability and making life difficult for ordinary people.
  • The Central Asian Republics were rich in hydrocarbon resources for economic benefit as oil companies and outside powers had a competition to exploit these natural resources.
  • The US approached them to hire bases and territories during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia and India share a vision of multipolar world order, collective security, greater regionalism, negotiated settlements of international conflicts, an independent foreign policy and decision making through the UN.
  • India is benefited from Russia on issues like Kashmir, energy supplies, sharing information on international terrorism, access to Central Asia and balancing its relations with China.
  • In return, Russia has also been benefited from India on the ground of second largest arms market for Russia.

Timeline

  • March 1985: Mikhail Gorbachev electced as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; appoints Boris Yeltsin as the head of the Communist Party in Moscow; initiates a series of reforms in the Soviet Union.
  • 1988: Independence movement begins in Lithuania; later spreads to Estonia and Latvia.
  • October 1989: Soviet Union declares that the Warsaw Pact members are free to decide their own future; Berlin Wall falls in November.
  • February 1990: Gorbachev strips the Soviet Communist Party of its 72-year long monopoly on power by calling on the Soviet Parliament (Duma) to permit multi-party politics.
  • March 1990: Lithuania becomes the first of the 15 Soviet republics to declare its independence.
  • June 1990: Russian parliament declares its independence from the Soviet Union.
  • June 1991: Yeltsin, no longer in the Communist Party, becomes the President of Russia.
  • August 1991: The Communist Party hardliners stage an abortive coup against Gorbachev.
  • September 1991: Three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania becomes UN members (Later join NATO in March 2004).
  • December 1991: Russia, Belarus and Ukraine decide to annul the 1992 Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and establish the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan join the CIS (Georgia join later in 1993); Russia takes over the USSR seat in the United Nations.
  • 25 December 1991: Gorbachev resigns as the President of the Soviet Union; the end of the Soviet Union.