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Collapse of the USSR Countdown to collapse How life has changed Gorbachev webcast Photo file
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Winter 1991 - USSR disbanded

The Soviet Union is entering its final days.

The Baltic states - the first to have sown the seeds of independence - have been the first to reap the harvest. Moscow officially recognised their status as sovereign states on 6 September 1991.

Other republics have already begun moves to break away, or start them now. Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova are among the first in the queue.

But the Soviet Union is dealt its fatal blow as the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus meet secretly to plan a new union. The three men agree on 8 December, at Belovezh Forest near Minsk, to disband the Soviet Union and form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Most of the other republics soon sign up for the new union.

On 25 December, Gorbachev goes on television to announce he is stepping down as Soviet president. The Soviet flag is lowered from the Kremlin for the last time, and the white, blue and red tricolour of the Russian Federation flies in its place. The USSR is no more.

Soviet flag flies above Kremlin
End of era: Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time

 From the archive: Gorbachev press conference
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