Dec 27 2016

25 Years Ago – The End of the Soviet Union

It’s by a strange coincidence that I would write a small article late yesterday about the city of Pripyat, Ukraine – the city where the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was located. It’s explosion is one of many events that is called “the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union” and while writing that article I thought nothing over the history of the Soviet Union beyond that moment in time.

Browsing a bit more online, I saw someone I know share that it had been 25 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which somewhat surprised me, not that it had been that long (the event happened when I was 6, and I don’t really remember it at all) but just that the past day was indeed that – 25 years, to the day, since the “oh so horrible” Soviet Union simply stopped existing.

Hell, it’s an interesting moment in space history, as Soyuz crew on the Mir space station launched months earlier as Soviets, but came home as members of different nations. Incidentally, of course, the Mir space station still maintained the CCCP markings on its hull, and I’ve heard that some Cosmonauts felt it was the last piece of their Soviet home.

In any case, this is a major, yet somewhat forgotten event in history. Russia lost much of it’s terrifying nature, but the nation still retained much of its power. Many of the former Soviet states did take “bites” as you could say, out of the former superpower: Kazakhstan, for example, is the home of the Baikonour cosmodrome, and Russia has to (as far as I understand) pay for its use, and many other nations where missiles and rockets were developed now basically own those weapons. Naturally my focus on this subject would be in regards to rocketry and space, but this extends to other weaponry, resources, and the like. One day it’s all part of the Soviet Union, the next day, it’s suddenly part of your new nation, completely free and independent (at least, officially) from the Kremlin.

Of course many of the former Soviet states maintain close ties to Russia. Some don’t, and this has lead to some heated exchanges. I’m not going to get political here; I try very hard to avoid such, but I will say the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” In some ways, I think, the Soviet Union never died – it certainly never left the hearts of many who grew up in it, and in many ways that’s as good as some would see it as bad. I stand neutral, simply respecting and wanting to understand their cultural identity as much as I would any nation, or in this case, group of nations, with such a vast, dynamic, and somewhat alien history as the Soviet Union had.

The reasons the Soviet Union feel are numerous, and debated. Some blame Communism and Socialism directly, others blame the Afghan war, some blame Chernobyl,  as mentioned above, some blame the individuals involved, and even more directly blame the US and UN. I’d say it’s a little of everything, and more; that’s just how things wound up happening, and in an alternate history, who knows.

The Russian Space Station Mir

American history always portrayed the Soviet Union as pure evil and anti freedom. Hell, I grew up watching old 1980’s programs that treated them as such, but even then, as well as now, I was smart enough to know they were people too, and while the governments may not have gotten along, we as people could. (yeah, that’s sappy, I know!)

As I got older, and learned more about our own anti-communist sentiment through the 50’s, 60’s and beyond, it all made sense. To contrast, I learned what I could about the Soviet Union, and other Communist and Socialist nations, and why they became what they were, or still are. Some nations are doing well for themselves, even under what is properly classed as Communism – indeed, we deal directly with very well known “Communist” nation day in day out. Others, however, are not so good. I won’t name names, of course, but a little research onto the subject will tell you real quick who I mean, but even then, the people, those who live there, are still humans, and still, barring propaganda, care about people of other nations, even the United States who, to some of them, is an enemy nation.

It’s all about perspective, really, and in this case, it’s the perspective of seeing what Russia and the former Soviet states have become in 25 years. Some things have gotten bad, others have gotten good. Tensions are still high, and we still feel the echos of the cold war day in, day out – I’m a cold war baby, after all, and even now  as I type a part of my mind still wonders if the nukes will fly.

There is so much more that could be said on this subject, and what I think, but I’m going to cut it here – I think I’ve made some kind of point in what I think, and I hope you enjoyed reading. Perhaps I’ll write a bit more on the subject soon. Who knows.

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