USSR. 30 years from the Białowieża Agreement on the liquidation of the USSR and the creation of the CIS

On December 8, 1991, a decision was made to dissolve the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Białowieża Agreement was signed by the leaders of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine: Stanisław Szuszkiewicz, Borys Yeltsin and Leonid Krawczuk. In place of the USSR, they decided to establish the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The signing of the Białowieża Agreement formally ending the existence of the USSR took place during a meeting at the residence of the Soviet authorities in Wiskula in the Belarusian part of the Białowieża Primeval Forest. It was attended by the then president of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), Yeltsin, Kravchuk, elected president of Ukraine a few days earlier, and Shushkevich, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus, took part in it.

“The Soviet Union as a geopolitical reality and a subject of international law ceases to exist” – it was written in the agreement adopted 30 years ago. In his place, the sovereign republics established the CIS.

After a few days, the parliaments of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus ratified the agreement. Less than two weeks after the meeting in Białowieża, on December 21, at the summit in Alma-Ata, all union republics of the USSR except Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Georgia joined the CIS.

Krawczuk (second from the left), Szuszkiewicz (third from the left) and Jelcyn (second from the right) in Wiskula in the Białowieża Forest on December 8, 1991AFP / NOVOSTI / EAST NEWS

The collapse of the USSR

On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Following his statement, the red flag of the USSR was lowered from the tower of the Moscow Kremlin, and the white, blue and red flag of Russia was hung instead. A day later, the USSR was formally dissolved and the independence of its republics was recognized. The independence of the Baltic states had been recognized by the USSR earlier, on September 6, 1991.

The Białowieża Agreement was the last step in the process of the collapse of the USSR. Lithuania was the first of the republics included in the USSR to proclaim its declaration of independence on March 11, 1990. In June 1991, Yeltsin won the elections and became the president of the RSFSR. The president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, the creator of perestroika, which initiated changes in the country, agreed to transform the USSR into a confederation under pressure from Yeltsin and the leaders of other republics. On August 20, 1991, the signing of a new union treaty was announced.

On August 19, however, an unsuccessful coup led by the vice-president of the USSR, Gennady Janyev, broke out, considered an attempt to take power in the country by the hardliners in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), which opposed the disintegration of the power. Yeltsin led the opponents of the coup d’état, who demonstrated en masse in the streets of Moscow. Part of the army also joined their side with time. After three days the coup broke down. After its collapse, changes in the USSR accelerated. Gorbachev disbanded the CPSU and the KGB. Ukraine and Belarus have declared their independence.

From the left: Krawczuk, Szuszkiewicz and Jelcyn in Wiskula in the Białowieża Forest on December 8, 1991Yuriy Ivanov / SPUTNIK Russia / East News

They came to talk about gas, they decided to dissolve the USSR

As Szuszkiewicz recalled in his talks with the Polish Press Agency, the meeting in Białowieża was originally intended to solve short-term problems with the supplies of Russian gas and crude oil to Belarus and Ukraine. The talks over time covered a wider topic, and the leaders came to the conclusion that “the only decision they can make is the dissolution of the USSR,” reported the Belarusian politician.

“When we realized that we would sign such words, we understood that if we limited ourselves to them, chaos and anarchy would arise. We had to explain what to do with nuclear weapons, with borders, who would pay the debt of the Soviet Union and a lot of other issues” – he said Szuszkiewicz, explaining the genesis of the establishment of the CIS.

“When we signed the Belarusian agreements, the Soviet Union did not exist anymore. The events on December 8 were only a confirmation of this fact” – emphasized the then leader of Belarus. He explained that Gorbachev and his entourage were no longer able to lead the USSR and there was a real threat of its collapse through civil war. Szuszkiewicz considers his contribution to the liquidation of the USSR by peaceful means to be his greatest success in life.

The USSR was formally established on December 30, 1922 from the merger of the RSFSR established after the October Revolution in November 1917 and the so far formally independent Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR and Transcaucasia SFSR. At the end of its existence, the USSR consisted of 15 union republics.

The Commonwealth of Independent States currently includes nine countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan has the status of an associate member. In 2018, Ukraine withdrew its representatives from the CIS organs. In the years 1993-2009, Georgia was also a member of the organization.

Main photo source: AFP / NOVOSTI / EAST NEWS

About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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