The confrontation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin was a key factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Perhaps no event of comparable magnitude has been more affected by the personal interactions of two men. The history of the Gorbachev-Yeltsin relationship during the ªnal years of the USSR is largely the story of the collapse of the Soviet state. The passionate dislike and animosity that developed between the two leaders made compromise difªcult and accelerated the collapse of the union. Gorbachev's initial unwillingness to deal seriously with the new Russian leader probably did more to contribute to the disintegration of the Soviet Union than did Yeltsin's bluster and thirst for revenge. It was only when the tables were turned after the failed coup of August 1991, and when Yeltsin clearly had gained control of the situation, that he allowed his intense dislike of Gorbachev to drive his actions.

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