The Soviet Union was a global superpower, possessing the largest armed forces on the planet with military bases from Angola in Africa, to Vietnam in South-East Asia, to Cuba in the Americas. When Mikhail Gorbachev succeeded Konstantin Chernenko as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1985, nobody expected than in less than seven years the USSR would disintergrate into fifteen separate states.
Gorbachev's attempt at democratising
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Soviet Union, an ethnically diverse nation, was soon ripped apart by separatist movements as Moscow's central authority weakened. The power struggle between Gorbachev and Russian nationalist Boris Yeltsin proved to be the nail in the coffin for the USSR. On 25 December 1991, the Soviet red flag was lowered from the Kremlin and by the end of the month the USSR had passed into history. Fifteen new states stood where one mighty superpower had recently held sway.