The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union: Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin

TLDR This podcast explores the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, from Mikhail Gorbachev's idealistic vision for the USSR to Boris Yeltsin's establishment of Russia as a counterweight, leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the birth of Russia as a nation state. It also delves into the role of Vladimir Putin and his belief in Russia's exceptionalism, which has shaped his leadership and the country's trajectory.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The podcast has already covered a mini-series on Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, the fall of the USSR, and the rise of Vladimir Putin, and has stitched together the first two episodes into a longer special that explores Gorbachev's early life, his vision for the USSR, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, his relationship with Yeltsin, and how all of that led to Putin's Russia.
05:24 The podcast explores the idea of Russia's exceptionalism and its sense of destiny, which is deeply rooted in Russian culture and believed both inside and outside of the country, and discusses how this belief has been expressed by Putin and his supporters.
10:19 The Soviet Union in the 1970s appears to be prosperous and stable, but it is actually facing economic decline and deep-rooted problems, which are not fully recognized by the people at the top of the regime, including Yuri Andropov and Putin.
15:03 Mikhail Gorbachev is seen as a figure of utter shame and ignominy in Russian history, but when he becomes General Secretary, he is still an idealistic believer in the Soviet model.
19:39 Gorbachev is seen as a complete and utter disaster by historians because he tried to fix the Soviet system in an inept way, but he was an idealistic believer in Lenin's vision and wanted to establish true communism.
24:16 Gorbachev's attempts to reform the Soviet Union through perestroika and glasnost inadvertently created a breeding ground for nationalist movements and gave more power to the corrupt old elites, setting the stage for future trouble, while Putin, who was working for the KGB in East Germany at the time, observed these developments from outside.
29:04 Putin, who is observing the fragmentation and fall of the Russian sphere of influence, is troubled by the events of the late 80s and early 90s, as he is a believer in the Russian world.
33:53 Gorbachev attempts to maintain a balance between both camps, avoids violence, and promotes even more democracy through the Congress of People's Deputies, which is televised and causes confusion and division among Soviet citizens.
38:23 In the midst of economic collapse, political turmoil, and rising nationalism, Boris Yeltsin establishes Russia as a counterweight to the Soviet Union, leading to the emergence of parallel governments and competing economic programs.
43:24 In the summer of 1991, there was talk of the US intervening with a Marshall plan for the Soviet Union, but it was rejected, potentially leading to a different outcome for Gorbachev and the Soviet Union.
48:06 The coup plotters lose their nerve, Gorbachev returns, Yeltsin humiliates him by making him read out a list of collaborators, Yeltsin bans the Communist Party and declares a move towards a market economy, while the republics start to go their own way, leading to the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
52:55 The collapse of the Soviet Union is not due to public protests, but rather the rivalries and desire for self-protection among different parts of the Soviet elite, resulting in the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the birth of Russia as a nation state with a loss of status and citizens outside its borders.
Categories: History

The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union: Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin

ARCHIVE: Gorbachev, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the rise of Putin
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