I have finally finished "The Last Empire - The Final Days of the Soviet Union" by Serhi Plokhy. A work that I have just started and is quite interesting. It's a non western account of the fall of the USSR. It is quite an informative text, a good read, and I thoroughly recommend it. I found it interesting that Gorbachev forecast the Russo - Ukrainian War if Ukraine gained independence from Russia. This was in 1991 when he was at loggerheads with Yeltsin and trying to retain power. He wanted a Federation formed with the Centre in Moscow being the overall controlling body. However Yeltsin and others didn't want a supra national body in charge because they regarded it as just sapping one master for another. Ukraine definitely wanted its complete independence and Kravachuk, the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament wasn't agreeing to anything less. He was a CPSU apparatchik who came to the idea of a fully independent Ukraine late.
George WH Bush was the POTUS at the time, who quite liked and got on well with Gorbachev, not wanting to see a collapse of the USSR because of his concern about the USSR nuclear weapons. It was only in December 1991, that Bush and his Administration fully accepted the reality that Gorbachev wasn't going to last as leader of any supra-national body in the former USSR. On Christmas Day (25/12/1991) Gorbachev signed his letter of resignation, the associated decree, and made his televised announcement about it. Yeltsin and the other independent nation leaders had promised Bush that Gorbachev would be respected and given an honourable retirement with his salary. However Yeltsin hated Gorbachev, because of a personal slight, and took his revenge by having Gorbachev politically neutered and gutted. The formation of the CIS was the death knell of the USSR.
The other really interesting point was that Yeltsin, Gorbachev and Kravachuk had quite a lot of contact with Bush during the latter half of 1991. Bush tried and mostly succeeded at remaining neutral in his many conversations with all three leaders, plus the leaders of the Central Asian Republics. When Bush gave his State of the Nation address to Congress in 1992, he proclaimed that the US had won the Cold War, but Plokhy states that isn't true because Reagan's actions and Bush's involvement was not the reason for the collapse of the USSR. He argues that it was the determination of the various republics to have more independence from the Centre in Moscow, and Gorbachev's own handling his position as general Secretary of the CPSU, President of the USSR, and the inefficiency of overall production that was the predominant cause. In fact he said that the some of the cause can be traced back to Brezhnev's time as General Secretary of the CPSU.