The sudden and unexpected collapse of communism in East-Central Europe in the fall of 1989 alerted analysts to the possibility that the Soviet Union might succumb to forces of radical change. To forestall undesirable results of such a collapse, some Western leaders soon began advocating a Marshall Plan for the USSR that would encourage democracy and a smooth transition from the command economy to the market.
This advocacy took many forms, culminating in Graham Allison’s and Robert Blackwill’s proposal for a “grand bargain.” Under this grand bargain, the West would finance the Soviet’s transition to a market system by providing 45 to 60 billion dollars of assistance over a three-year period. In return, Moscow would make military and economic concessions, providing the world with secure futures. The twin threats of authoritarianism and disunion-which arose in the aftermath of the abortive coup of August 19, 1991-gave added urgency to the suggestion of Allison and Blackwill, but these threats went largely unheeded.
Propelled by an economic crisis of extraordinary intensity, the Soviet Union then disintegrated and was replaced on December 21, 1991, by a loose association of sovereign nations, the “Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv,” or Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which describes itself neither as a state nor as a super-state structure.