Problems facing the USSR in the 1980s

  • Afghanistan had become 'Russia's Vietnam'.
  • Russia could not afford the arms race.
  • The Soviet economy was backwards - factories and mines were decrepit and outdated.
  • Backwards industry was causing increasing environmental problems - eg pollution, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion of 1986, and the Aral Sea dried up.
  • Many people were much poorer than the poorest people in the capitalist West - unrest about shortages was growing.
  • Crime, alcoholism and drugs were out of control in Soviet towns.
  • The Soviet system had become corrupt and out of date - instead of dealing with problems, the government just covered them up (eg Chernobyl, 1986).
  • Many people were dissatisfied with the Soviet police state and censorship.