The USSR collapsed in 1991 and Russia again became an independent nation. The newly independent country faced a time of exceptional economic and political crisis that necessitated tough decisions and painful policies. Conflict quickly erupted between Russian president Boris Yeltsin and the legislature. These battles were partly a struggle for power and the perks of office, but they also revolved around economic policy and issues of Russian nationalism and national pride.
The Soviet Union was a superpower and possessed a very different social and economic system from that in the West. This appealed to the pride of many Russians and helped erase a traditional sense of inferiority to the West. In 1991, quite suddenly and unexpectedly for most Russians, the USSR ceased to exist and Russia lost much of its international power and status. In the 1990s Russia was forced to ask the West for economic assistance and investment. The pro-American foreign policy of President Yeltsin and his foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, quickly found considerable opposition.
The opposition increased when Russia did not receive the massive Western financial assistance that many Russians had naively expected.
American determination to incorporate many former Soviet satellite states into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) angered the Russian political elite. Because NATO’s essential purpose had been to serve as an anti-Soviet alliance, the political elite felt it was insulting when the former satellites were invited to join. They also resented being excluded from the dominant military and political bloc in Europe, which seemed intent on extending its membership right up to Russia’s borders.
Under Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Russia became more critical of United States policies and began to rebuild political ties to China and some of its old allies in the Middle East.
Even as Russia fostered these ties, the Russian government recognized its own weakness and its need for positive relations with the West. This knowledge prevented Russia from going too far for fear of isolating itself from Western nations. In the Soviet era international isolation and the attempt to develop a powerful self-sufficient economy had failed disastrously. Yeltsin’s regime understood this and was committed to full participation in the world economy and international trade. These things could only be achieved on the West’s terms. "Russia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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