20 Years After the End

The face of new Russia. A man who could drink, and drink, and drink.

Today, December 26, 2011, marks the 20 year anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union.  To be specific, that nation ended at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Day, December 25th, but many mark today, the 26th, as the day the Cold War ended. 

This fact, of course, has little to do with drinking.  But for me, an American who grew up during the Cold War’s waning years, who later studied in Saint Petersburg and obtained a degree in Russian politics, today marks an important date in my nation’s foreign relations history: the four decade-long standoff between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. was over.

My favorite photography site – In Focus with Alan Taylor, hosted by The Atlantic – marked this occasion by displaying a collection of 43 photos depicting the final months of the Soviet Union, which witnessed the failed August 1991 putsch against Premier Gorbachev, the reactions of various Soviet republics to the signs of weakness in Moscow, and the final days before the formal collapse and transition of power from Gorbachev to Boris Yeltsin.

To me, this day is special not simply because it marked my country’s peaceful victory over a longtime foe, but for the freedom to travel and study there, the opportunity to learn from its people, and the pleasure of toasting many rounds with fellow students. 

So raise a glass of cold vodka and mark this evening: the standoff between superpowers ended not with nuclear annihilation, but with nary a peep.    I cannot think of anything more worthy of a celebratory drink.

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. do I have to drink cold vodka?
    I prefer my drink cool with a squeeze of fresh lime

    • Yes, you have to drink cold vodka. Very, very cold vodka. It’s the Russian way.

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