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The Geopolitical Disaster of the 20th Century? Causes and Implications of the End of the Soviet Union

Background

Twenty years ago at the beginning of December, a very secret meeting took place in a hunting lodge, Belovezhskaya Puschcha in the Brest area. The participants were Boris Yeltsin, Russia, Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine, and Stanislav Shushkevich, chairman of the Belarusian parliament.
David Marples describes the meeting the following way: “Over two days and many toasts, the three leaders and their associates resolved to form a loose association called the ‘Commonwealth of Independent States’. The decision was a decisive step in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It blasted the efforts of the Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev for an agreement on a new Union Treaty and elicited anger among the remaining Soviet republics who had not been invited to the meeting. On the initiative of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the leader of Kazakhstan, a meeting between the Central Asian republics was held on 12 December in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, where they decided to join the Commonwealth (in Russian: Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv (SNG)). Another important meeting took place 21 December in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Leaders of 11 republics participated and signed the so-called Almaty Protocol, which declared their consent to the Belovezh Accords. The three Baltic States and Georgia didn’t participate in the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, Nazarbayev declared the Soviet Union dissolved”.

Vladimir Putin has called it “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century”. Among others, 25 million Russians were left outside the Russian Federation, and for the next decade the former Soviet republics were facing very difficult challenges many of which are yet to be overcome.

The seminar will shed light on the causes leading to the collapse and will discuss the implications of these dramatic events.


Speakers

David R. Marples is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Alberta, Canada. He was educated at the Universities of London, Alberta, and Sheffield. He is the author of many articles in scholarly journals and a specialist on Ukraine and Belarus. His most recent titles include The Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1985-1991 (Pearson Education-Longman, 2004), Heroes and Villains: Creating History in Contemporary Ukraine (Central European University Press, 2008), and Russia in the Twentieth Century: The Quest for Stability (Pearson-Longman, 2011).

Dmitry Ryurikov is an ambassador and at present, he serves as a Senior Researcher at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies of the Institute of Contemporary International Studies, Diplomatic Academy, Russian Foreign Ministry. He also served as Russian Ambassador to Denmark (2003-2007) and Russian Ambassador to Uzbekistan (1999-2003). From 1991 to 1997, he was an Assistant to the President of Russia, and in 1997-1999, he served as Counsellor to the Chairman of the Council of Federation, Federal Assembly of Russia. Dmitry Ryurikov is the author of Russia Survives (The Nixon Center, 2000).


Programme

13.00-13.15 Introduction
Karsten Jakob Møller, Major General, Senior Analyst, DIIS

13.15-14.00 Causes and Implications of the End of the Soviet Union
David R. Marples, Professor, University of Alberta, Canada

14.00-14.15 Coffee Break

14.15-15.00 A Geopolitical Catastrophe? Implications of the
Collapse of the Soviet Union
Dmitry Ryurikov, Ambassador

15.00-15.30 Open Discussion

Chair: Karsten Jakob Møller, Major General, Senior Analyst, DIIS


Practical Information

The seminar will be held in English.

Participation is free of charge, but registration is required.

Sted Danish Institute for International Studies, Main Auditorium, Strandgade 71, ground floor, 1401 Copenhagen K
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