Mikhail Gorbachev & Cold War


    In News

    • Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War without bloodshed but failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union, recently died.

    More about Mikhail Gorbachev

    • About:
      • He was a Russian and Soviet politician who served as the last leader of the Soviet Union.
      • He was the President of the Soviet Union from 1990 until the country’s dissolution in 1991.  
      • He is praised for: 
        • His role in ending the Cold War, and 
        • Introducing new political and economic freedoms in the Soviet Union.
    • A shift from hardcore communist ideas:
      • Pro reforms:
        • Although committed to preserving the Soviet state and its socialist ideals, Gorbachev believed significant reform to be necessary, particularly after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster
      • Afghan issue:
        • He withdrew troops from the Soviet-Afghan War.
      • Pro-democracy protests:
        • When pro-democracy protests swept across the Soviet bloc nations of communist Eastern Europe in 1989, he refrained from using force. 
          • Unlike previous Kremlin leaders who had sent tanks to crush uprisings in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.
    • Glasnost &perestroika:
      • Domestically, his policy of glasnost (“openness”) allowed for enhanced freedom of speech and press.
        • It allowed previously unthinkable criticism of the party and the state, but also emboldened nationalists who began to press for independence in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and elsewhere
      • Perestroika (“restructuring”) sought to decentralize economic decision-making to improve its efficiency.
    • Legacy:
      • Widely considered one of the most significant figures of the second half of the 20th century, Gorbachev remains the subject of controversy
        • In Russia he is often derided for facilitating the dissolution of the Soviet Union—an event which weakened Russia’s global influence and precipitated an economic collapse in Russia and associated states.
      • He is also the recipient of a wide range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Cold War

    • Origin:
      • Post World War II (1945), the world got divided into two power blocs dominated by two superpowers, the US and Soviet Union.
        • The period is generally considered to span from the announcement of the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
    • About:
      • The Cold War referred to the competition, the tensions and a series of confrontations between the US and Soviet Union.
      • It was not simply a matter of power rivalries, of military alliances and of the balance of power.
    • The ‘cold’ war:
      • The term cold war is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars
    • Ideological conflict:
      • These were accompanied by a real ideological conflict between communism and capitalism.
        • The western alliance, headed by the US, represented the ideology of liberal democracy and capitalism.
        • The eastern alliance, headed by the Soviet Union, was committed to the ideology of socialism and communism.
      • There was a difference over the best and the most appropriate way of organising political, economic and social life all over the world.


    • It is a sociopolitical, philosophical, and economic ideology and is current within the socialist movement.
    • Its goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order centered around common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange—allocating products to everyone in the society.
    • It also involves the absence of social classes, money and the state.

    Soviet Union

    • About:
      • Officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
      • A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of twenty-one republics.
      • In practice, both its government and its economy were highly centralized until its final years. 
      • It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
    • Dissolution of the Soviet Union
      • The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the process of internal disintegration within the Soviet Union (USSR).


    Source: IE