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With the twentieth anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union approaching, many have been offering their thoughts as to how this superpower met her end, how was it that on Christmas Day 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev appeared on television to tell his people that he had resigned as their president.

A British ambassador for Moscow, from 1988 to 1992, charted her decline from the 1960s, she was falling behind to her rival and had to rely on high oil prices for the next 15 years, Rodric Braithwaite observed in the Financial Times.

Many Russians from that period would tell you that things weren’t as bad as the cold war propaganda showed, that the food queues broadcast in the West could easily have been replaced by pictures of the dole queues and people sleeping in the streets on Washington, London and Paris.

Over the last ten years, Islamists have argued that the defeat at Afghanistan was the beginning of the end of the empire that denied the existence of God.

For an empire built on fear, admitting defeat was a disaster, however, the Soviet Union’s decision to put 150,000 troops into Kabul was perhaps the first sign that something was wrong at the Kremlin.

Gorbachev himself has been quoted as saying that he felt that things could not continue in the way that they had before he came to power.

I have always believed that the Soviet Union never recovered from the carnage of the Second World War, for on the face of it she was equally matched with the United States of America, truth was her position as number one had come at a horrendous cost, millions of young men had given their lives for the protection of mother Russia.

Whilst industries and infrastructures can be replaced, human beings despite what Cold War propaganda said of the Soviet worker, are not machines, they are just flesh and blood, and in that they are unique.