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There has been much debate on the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It is especially challenging to analyse this matter effectively as we are still living in the close proximity of the events and its key actors, thereby undermining the access to the breadth of source available derived from distance (Suri). Many historians have argued that the collapse of the Soviet Union was inevitable and that the seed was planted long before Gorbachev came into power; these short term triggers were purely a catalyst in igniting the long-embedded conflict. Having said that, I believe that the collapse of the Soviet Union was not simply the result of the economic and military competition between the two superpowers and that there is no one determinate reason (Suri) but multiple reasons. In this answer, I shall examine the strain of the arms race on the Soviet Union, the failure of Gorbachevs liberal reforms in resolving wide popular unrest (CIA 1989) and its failure in restoring trust and loyalty in the people, the nationalistic feeling amongst satellite states seeking for independence (soviet ministry of foreign affairs, 1989) and its failure in its military expeditions in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The role of Gorbachev is often regarded to be the ultimate trigger to the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the contrary, there exists a different view that Gorbachevs fate was predetermined when he came to power at a time when the state was inherently unstable as a result of the failure of his proceeding leaders Khrushchev and Brezhnev. In the backdrop of popular rife and discontent, Gorbachev looked to the west for inspiration and implemented liberal reforms in an attempt to resolve the popular demand for radical change. In Glasnost, Gorbachev had good intentions and attempted to reduce internal corruption within the state by committing to openness and transparency within government institutions; yet, Gorbachev was criticised for having an ideal[istic] outlook and that his policies had no substance (CIA 1989). These forward-looking reforms backfired and instead saw an increase in popular discontent and demand for radical change; and this in turn added fuel to the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachevs failure to impose appropriate policies for the communist superpower resulted in his polices to spiral out of control. The liberal reforms implemented by Gorbachev only contributed to the public being more exposed to revolutionary ideas and thus the Soviet Union lost its ability to shape public opinions. The exposure to western ideas also meant that people were more aware of the greater freedoms and higher standards of living in the west (CIA 1989) and able to realise that communism was not able to provide tangible benefits (Cox, 2013; Chernayaev, 1989) and this led to the lost of trust and faith in the socialist system (Chernayaev, 89). Therefore, although Gorbachev had good intentions of imposing dynamic policies, its effectiveness was undermined by his failure to carry through with the policies and to impose them according to the needs of the Soviet Union. The arms race between the west and the east was key in the course of the Cold War as both sides wanted to be on top of and superior to the other in the military department; this factor underlined the very reason why the Cold War never truly turned into a hot war with direct confrontation. The arms race with the west

resulted from the desire of the Soviet Union to prove to the citizens as well as the world that the east was in line with the technologically advanced west, which it was obviously not. The strain of the arms race with the west meant that the soviet economy was in a state of war economy where all its resources were focused on the production of coal, iron and steal and neglecting consumer goods. The drop in productivity in consumers goods in the Soviet Union meant that it had to import grains from the US. This reflected on the worsening in the standards of living and also spelt trouble on the strain of the balance of payments as the state was running down in deficit and GNP, and especially agricultural productivity (Chernayaev 1989). The strain of the arms race led the soviet economy to the verge of collapse; and this in turn added fuel to the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan badly overstretched and demoralized their military. The defeat in Afghanistan foresaw its unlikelihood in defending the Soviet Union against the West. Soviet military was very expensive (CIA, 1989) and had always been the backbone of Soviet policy, therefore the weaknesses and failings of the Soviet military in Afghanistan spelled trouble throughout the Soviet Union. The soviet state was now in a state of internal collapse. The popular feeling of fear stirred up a sense of nationalism from within which led to internal pressures for political change. By the late 1970s the state was mainly ruled by the ageing political class, a gerontocracy. This exasperated the conservative communist government's hostility towards the youth, which, in turn, meant that the regime was not able to rely on the idealism of the young(CIA, 1989). Furthermore, ineffectiveness of the satellite states in the Eastern Bloc meant that the Soviet Union was unable to rely on its allies for resources and aid. These satellite states were too in a state of internal collapse and the presence nationalist movements meant that there were pressures for radical change and revolution (CIA 1989). The growing gap between the socialist world and the west ultimately led to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. NATO and the Warsaw pact were regarded to have carved up the world into the east and the west and thus were seen to be the main reasons for the Cold War; and thus its disbandment marked the end of the eastern bloc and socialism as a whole. To conclude, I believe that there is no one determinate reason but multiple reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was the combined effect of the strain of the arms race on the Soviet Union, the failure of Gorbachevs liberal reforms in resolving wide popular unrest (CIA 1989) and its failure in restoring trust and loyalty in the people, the nationalistic feeling amongst satellite states seeking for independence (soviet ministry of foreign affairs, 1989) and its failure in its military expeditions. Therefore, the collapse of the Soviet Union was not simply the result of the economic and military competition between the two superpowers.