Saturday, August 5, 2023

the last book I ever read (The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy, excerpt thirteen)

from The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy:

The vote for Ukraine’s independence spelled the end of the Soviet Union. Those participating in the referendum had changed not only their own date but the course of world history. Ukraine freed the rest of the Soviet republics still dependent on Moscow. Yeltsin made a final attempt to convince Kravchuk to sign a new union treaty when he met with him at a Belarusian hunting lodge in Belavezha Forest on December 8, 1991. Kravchuk refused, citing the results of the referendum in all oblasts of Ukraine, including Crimea and the east. Yeltsin backed off. If Ukraine was not prepared to sign, Russia would not do so either, he told the newly elected Ukrainian president. Yeltsin had explained to the president of the United States more than once that without Ukraine, Russia would be outnumbered and outvoted by the Muslim republics. A union including neither Ukraine nor Russia, with its huge energy resources, had no political or economic attraction for the other republics. At Belavezha the three leaders of the Slavic republics—Yeltsin, Kravchuk, and Stanislaŭ Shushkevich of Belarus—created a new international body, the Commonwealth of Independent States, which the Central Asian republics joined on December 21. The Soviet Union was no more.

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