JC History Tuition Online - What role did Boris Yeltsin play in the collapse of the Soviet Union

What role did Boris Yeltsin play in the collapse of the Soviet Union?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity [Collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War]

Find out what happened on 19 August 1991 when Russian leader Boris Yeltsin opposed the coup attempt by the ‘Gang of Eight’ [Video by Simon Marks Reporting]

Cracks within the political system: A failed last ditch attempt
Since 1988, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev embarked on ambitious reforms, namely the perestroika and glasnost that reshaped the Soviet system. However, Gorbachev was faced with a problem. Soviet republics began to break away from the USSR, threatening its very existence.

In response, the Soviet leader proposed the New Union Treaty, which was submitted to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on 23 November 1990. Yet, six of the fifteen Soviet republics (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) were determined to declare independence. The remaining nine republics comprised of Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, and Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, within the Soviet government, Gorbachev faced a bigger threat. Hardline politicians and military officials have begun to lose confidence in Gorbachev’s leadership, thinking that he was on the verge of bringing the Soviet Union to utter ruin. Notably, President Boris Yeltsin commented that the Soviet leader was not working fast enough.

From the outset, members of the elite had held different views about the reforms, with no one sure of the consequences of what they were doing, but some unutterably opposed. By 1989, that elite was split in three ways. […] Another, more conservative group opposed the course of reform. Some of these believed that all sorts of change were wrong, others accepted that some changes was needed but argued that the changes espoused by Gorbachev went too far too fast. […] The third group was headed by Boris Yeltsin, and believed that Gorbachev’s reforms went neither far enough nor fast enough.

An excerpt from “Building an Authoritarian Polity: Russia in Post-Soviet Times” by Graeme Gill.

The August Coup: Yeltsin’s resistance
On 18 August 1991, high-ranking officials that were hard-liners within the government placed Gorbachev under house arrest in Crimea. Although he was pressured to resign, Gorbachev declined to do so. Former vice president Gennady Yanayev came up with an excuse that Gorbachev was ‘ill’, so a state of emergency was declared. Then, the coup leaders (also known as the ‘Gang of Eight’) tried to take control of the government.

The following is a translated excerpt of Yeltsin’s speech in front of the parliament building, in which he denounced the coup and called for a general strike.

Citizens of Russia: On the night of 18-19 August 1991, the legally elected president of the country was removed from power.

Regardless of the reasons given for his removal, we are dealing with a rightist, reactionary, anti-constitutional coup. Despite all the difficulties and severe trials being experienced by the people, the democratic process in the country is acquiring an increasingly broad sweep and an irreversible character.

The peoples of Russia are becoming masters of their destiny. The uncontrolled powers of unconstitutional organs have been considerably limited, and this includes party organs.

An excerpt from President of the Russian republic Boris Yeltsin’s address to the Russian people, 19 August 1991.

In view of these shocking events, Yeltsin stepped up and called on the Russian civilians to oppose the coup. In a historic moment, Yeltsin climbed aboard a tank and spoke through a megaphone. He called the coup a ‘new reign of terror’ and even convinced some of the soldiers to join hands with the civilians to protest the coup. In three days’ time, the coup finally came to an end. Gorbachev was released.

The rise of Yeltsin: A new Russia
On 8 December 1991, Boris Yeltsin, as well as the Presidents of Ukraine and Belarus (Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich) met to sign an agreement for the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Instead, a new entity known as the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS) would form the Russian federation. From then on, Yeltsin would legally become the de facto leader.

The news about Yeltsin’s speech on the top of a tank on the Red Square broke around the world. […] His rival Mikhail Gorbachev returned to his position of President of the weakened Union. But the power was already in the hands of Boris Yeltsin as President of the Russian Republic. He knew how to use power in order to eliminate his rivals. […] However, the better option for Yeltsin would be to dissolve it. The dissolution of the Soviet Union would immediately imply the elimination of the position of the President of the Union and thus the political death of the incumbent Mikhail Gorbachev.

An excerpt from “Global Trends in Eastern Europe” by Nikolai Genov.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political factors that have caused the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the End of the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What was Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative - Cold War Notes

What was Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity [US policy of renewed containment and confrontation]

Let’s take a look at the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and its significance during the Cold War in the 1980s. [Video by SideProjects]

Historical context: Peace through strength
After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the short-lived Détente was over, ushering a time know as the ‘Second Cold War‘. Then, US President Ronald Reagan assumed a more confrontational stance against the Soviet Union, asserting that the ‘Evil Empire’ had to deterred through military build-up.

By the early 1980s, there were anti-nuclear demonstrations taking place in the USA, which had put pressure on Washington to support ‘nuclear freeze’. Yet, Reagan opposed this approach, claiming that the Soviet Union’s aggression would put the USA and its people in grave danger.

I know too that many of you seriously believe that a nuclear freeze would further the cause of peace. But a freeze now would make us less, not more, secure and would raise, not reduce, the risks of war.

[…] It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome Soviet missile threat with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great industrial base and that have given us the quality of life we enjoy today. What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

An excerpt from US President Ronald Reagan’s speech entitled “Address to the Nation on Defense and National Security“, 23 March 1983.

A “Star Wars program”: Fiction or Reality?
During the historic speech, Reagan had revealed to the American people that a technologically-advanced missile defense system was being developed, which was later known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Notably, when Reagan was a governor of California in the 1960s he became very interested in the concept of directed-energy weapons (DEWs), which was briefed by physicist Edward Teller. Teller mentioned that DEWs, which included lasers and microwaves, could act as an effective defense against a nuclear attack.

To begin with, SDI became an easy object of derision in the British press. The Guardian reported that there was ‘little hope’ of SDI ever succeeding, and a generally dismissive tone dominated that newspaper, labelling SDI an unrealistic fantasy. Cartoons poked fun at Reagan’s initiative, quickly labelled ‘Star Wars’ by US Senator Ted Kennedy, and reiterated on Time magazine’s front cover in April 1984. Of course, SDI was officially declared to be defensive in nature, which was a useful imaginary to promote.

An excerpt from “NATO and the Strategic Defence Initiative: A Transatlantic History of the Star Wars Programme” by Luc-André Brunet.

On 25 February 1981, President Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 12, known as the Strategic Forces Modernisation Program. The Directive had authorised an improvement of strategic defenses and the development of ‘ballistic missile defense systems’.

The proposed SDI program was a space-based missile defense system that could protect the USA from a large-scale nuclear attack. It involved the use of space-based lasers, which reminded some of the popular science fiction film ‘Star Wars’ by George Lucas. (Interestingly, the trilogy was released in 1977, 1980 and 1983).

Although the program sounded absurd and unrealistic, the Reagan Administration was intent on developing the system to nullify the Soviet Union’s ability to make a first strike, thus giving the USA a chance to end the Cold War.

On the other hand, the Kremlin viewed the SDI as a serious breach to global peace and security as Reagan’s plans signalled the US decision to restart the arms race in the early 1980s.

And critics were certainly correct in predicting that Reagan’s proposal would anger the Soviet Union. Four days after Reagan’s surprise speech, Yuri Andropov (1914-1984), who had replaced Brezhnev, called SDI “irresponsible” and “insane”. He said the initiative was “putting the entire world in jeopardy.” He predicted it would “open the floodgates of a runaway race of all types of strategic arms, both offensive and defensive.”

An excerpt from “America’s Star Wars Program” by Ann Byers.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Reagan was responsible for the end of the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the End of the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the Chiang Mai Initiative - Asian Financial Crisis Notes

What is the Chiang Mai Initiative?

Topic of Study[For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Economic Development after Independence
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Asian Financial Crisis

The Asian Financial Crisis: A regional solution
In view of the disastrous impacts caused by the Asian Financial Crisis, member states of the regional organisation ASEAN gathered to discuss the possible responses to mitigate the adverse impacts.

On 6 May 2022, ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to discuss the creation of a network of bilateral currency swap agreements. The meeting took place as part of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Participants were described as “ASEAN+3” (APT).

But very soon, particularly in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, the APT evolved into an institutionalized forum of consultation and cooperation between ASEAN and three Northeast Asian powers over a growing range of regional issues, including economic cooperation, financial and monetary cooperation, social and human resource development, scientific and technical development, culture, information, development, political and security areas, and various transnational issues.

An excerpt from “The Politics of Economic Regionalism: Explaining Regional Economic Integration in East Asia” by Kevin G. Cai.

The Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI)
The Initiative was introduced to avert a similar disaster. The ASEAN+3 members also proposed the creation of a pool of foreign exchange reserves, which will be accessible by participating central banks to stave off currency speculation.

A most important achievement of the APT in the wake of the Asian financial crisis seemed to be the introduction of the Chiang Mai initiative (CMI) in 2000, which led to the establishment of a system of 15 bilateral currency swap arrangements among APT member states plus ASEAN swap arrangement that was designed to improve regional financial stability. Efforts were then made to multilateralize the CMI by converting bilateral swap arrangements into a common funding pool of foreign exchange reserves.

An excerpt from “The Politics of Economic Regionalism: Explaining Regional Economic Integration in East Asia” by Kevin G. Cai.

The APT conference had officiated the “Asian Currency Cooperation Plan”, which functioned on two paths. First, a currency exchange agreement was developed to allow the exchange of financial information. Second, a supervising institution was set up to prevent possible currency crises through close coordination between central banks of partner nations.

The present exchange agreement implies, in fact, that Japan works as the supplier of currency in international exchange. Japan and Korea can mutually exchange $7 billion in dollar-Korean won; Japan and Thailand signed a U.S. dollar-baht exchange agreement worth $3 billion; Japan and the Philippines reached an agreement worth $3 billion; Japan and Malaysia reached agreement to exchange $3.5 billion;

An excerpt from “Co-design for a New East Asia After the Crisis” by Hitoshi Hirakawa and Young-Ho Kim.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that Southeast Asian governments were effective in their responses to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about Asian Financial Crisis. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the significance of the Geneva Accords of 1954 - Vietnam War Notes

What is the significance of the Geneva Accords of 1954?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Vietnam War (1955-75)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Find out more about the Geneva Conference of 1954 [Video by Movietone]

Historical Context
From 1946 to 1954, the French colonial power fought against the Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh. The United States backed the French due to fears of Communist expansion in Southeast Asia, given the Communist leanings of the Vietnamese forces.

The decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu in March 1954 ended with the French defeat. As a result, the French withdrew from Vietnam.

The repercussions of Dien Bien Phu were swiftly felt around the world. Charles de Gaulle had always been adamant that the loss of Indochina would spell the end of the French empire.

[…] Nonetheless, Indochina’s nationalists achieved almost all their goals with the Geneva Accords of 21 July 1954. Cambodia and Laos had their independence recognized, while Vietnam was divided along the 17th Parallel. This created a formal ceasefire line, which accepted communist control of the north but not the south. Washington was far from happy with this latter concession. To some, it looked like Korea all over again.

An excerpt from “Dien Bien Phu (Cold War 1945–1991)” by Anthony Tucker-Jones.

The Geneva Conference
On 26 April 1954, the United States, Soviet Union, People’s Republic of China, France and Great Britain gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the future of Indochina and outstanding matters from the Korean War that ended in an armistice a year ago.

In July, the Geneva Agreement were signed. There were three key takeaway points from the Agreement:

  1. The French withdrew their forces from northern Vietnam
  2. Vietnam would be divided at the 17th Parallel temporarily
  3. Elections to be held within two years to select a president and reunify Vietnam

The Conference declares that, so far as Viet-Nam is concerned, the settlement of political problems, effected on the basis of respect for the principles of independence, unity and territorial integrity, shall permit the Viet-Namese people to enjoy the fundamental freedoms, guaranteed by democratic institutions established as a result of free general elections by secret ballot.

An excerpt from the Geneva Agreements, 20-21 July 1954.

Ho Chi Minh signed the agreement, but not the United States. Some American officials expressed concerns that the election outcome may not be in their favour, given Ho’s popularity. As such, the US government propped up an anti-Communist government in South Vietnam.

In October 1956, the Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed by President Ngo Dinh Diem, who replaced the French-backed puppet Emperor Bao Dai.

Shortly thereafter, the [Eisenhower] administration affirmed its commitment to the containment of communist influence in Southeast Asia by signing the Manila Pact, which provided for the creation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Fatefully, it also began a comprehensive aid program, jointly with the French at first, to prop up the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon as a bulwark against communist expansion in Vietnam. Soon Americans were training Diem’s fledgling armed forces and becoming otherwise more directly involved in Indochina.

An excerpt from “Hanoi’s Road to the Vietnam War, 1954-1965” by Pierre Asselin.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that political factors were most significant in influencing the start of the Vietnam War in the 1960s?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Vietnam War, Korean War and Cuban Missile Crisis. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.