REAGAN’S LAST AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA
Moreover, the breakup of the U.S.S.R. into 15 separate countries was not something the United States caused or wanted. We hoped that Gorbachev would forge a voluntary union of Soviet republics, minus the three Baltic countries. Bush made this clear in August 1991 when he urged the non-Russian Soviet republics to adopt the union treaty Gorbachev had proposed and warned against “suicidal nationalism.” Russians who regret the collapse of the Soviet Union should remember that it was the elected leader of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, who conspired with his Ukrainian and Belarusian counterparts to replace the U.S.S.R. with a loose and powerless “commonwealth.”
Even after the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist, Gorbachev maintained that “the end of the Cold War is our common victory.” Yet the United States insisted on treating Russia as the loser.
“By the grace of God, America won the Cold War,” Bush said during his 1992 State of the Union address. That rhetoric would not have been particularly damaging on its own. But it was reinforced by actions taken under the next three presidents.