New Union Treaty

The New Union Treaty (Russian: Новый союзный договор, romanized: Novyy soyuznyy dogovor) was a draft treaty that would have replaced the 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the USSR to salvage and reform the Soviet Union. A ceremony of the Russian SFSR signing the treaty was scheduled for August 20, 1991, but was prevented by the August Coup a day earlier.[1] The preparation of this treaty was known as the Novo-Ogarevo process (новоогаревский процесс), named after Novo-Ogaryovo, a governmental estate where the work on the document was carried out and where Soviet President and CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev talked with leaders of Union republics.[2]

(red) The union republics which supported a federation (both before and after the August coup). (orange) The union republics which supported a federation, but moved towards independence after the August coup. (black) The union republics which boycotted a federation, demanding full independence.

A less centralized federal system was proposed by Gorbachev during the Communist Party Congress of July 1990. A draft of the New Union Treaty was submitted to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on November 23, 1990. A drafting committee started work on the text on January 1, 1991. Six of the fifteen Soviet republics, however, did not participate in the drafting of the treaty: Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The proposal was approved by the Soviet of the Union on March 6 and sent to the Supreme Soviets of each republic for approval. Agreement could not be reached on the distribution of power between the Union and the Republics and the proposal was not approved. As an additional restrictive element, some autonomous republics expressed the desire to raise their status and to be a party to the new Soviet treaty.

Gorbachev tried to gain popular support for the proposal. On March 17, 1991, a popular referendum was held in the nine republics (Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, and Uzbekistan) which participated in the drafting of the treaty. In the referendum 76% of voters supported maintaining the federal system of the Soviet Union, including a majority in all of the nine republics. Opposition was greatest in large cities like Leningrad and Moscow. The referendum was mostly boycotted in the other six republics as they were already moving towards independence.

An agreement between the Soviet central government and the nine republics, the so-called "9+1" agreement, was finally signed in Novo-Ogaryovo on April 23. The New Union Treaty would have converted the Soviet Union into a confederation of independent republics with a common president, foreign policy, and military.

By August, eight of the nine republics, except Ukraine, approved the draft of the new Treaty with some conditions. Ukraine did not agree on the terms of the Treaty. In the republican referendum on March 17, the majority of residents of Ukraine supported joining the Union only if Ukraine declared itself a sovereign state.

The treaty stated that jurisdiction over most industries and resources, and control over taxation and public expenditures would be turned to those republics that were signing it, and their sovereignty would be recognized, and those which wouldn't sign would be allowed to go their own way. The central government would retain control of the country's armed forces and security services, but with a reduced size and subjected to oversight by the republican legislatures, along with issuing currency, Soviet Ruble and control of its gold and diamond resources, although the republics would have the right to share them. The republics and the central government would jointly determine military and foreign policy and work out policies on the economy, fuel, and energy resources. The Congress of People's Deputies would be disbanded. The number of government ministries would be reduced, some ministries having their responsibilities transferred to the republics, some having to reduce staff or abolished, or turned into small coordinating bodies which would support republican ministries. The republics would also be given ownership of almost all their natural resources, including mineral deposits on their territories, along with the right to establish direct diplomatic and trade relations with foreign states. A new constitutional court would have also been established to resolve questions between republics and the center. Lastly, republican law would take precedence over All-Union law.

Though the treaty was intended to save the union, hardliners feared that it would encourage some of the smaller republics to follow the lead of Lithuania and press for full independence. On August 18, the hardliners took control of the government after confining Gorbachev in his Crimean dacha in order to stop him from returning to Moscow to sign the treaty. The August Coup collapsed in the face of overwhelming opposition not only from the smaller republics but from larger ones, especially Russia.

Because the treaty was ultimately not signed, even in the aftermath of Ukrainian independence in December, the leaders of the republics organized the Commonwealth of Independent States, an alliance of 12 newly independent states. The Baltic states never joined the CIS. Georgia was not a member until 1993 and withdrew in 2008.[citation needed]

Names of the proposed stateEdit

On the first draft of the treaty released in July 1991, the proclaimed name for the new polity was the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics (Russian: Союз Советских Суверенных Республик, romanized: Soyuz Sovetskikh Suverennykh Respublik). This name was proposed in order to conserve the Russian "СССР" acronym, as well as the "USSR" and "Soviet Union" in English and other languages.

By September 1991, the overall support for preserving the Soviet state changed to reform the Soviet Union into a confederation of sovereign states. The final draft renamed the proposed state the Union of Sovereign States (Russian: Союз Суверенных Государств, romanized: Soyuz Suverennykh Gosudarstv). The overall chances of a continuation of the Soviet system in any form continued to drop and was soon abandoned. Following the August coup, the new union treaty was further reformed into the Commonwealth of Independent States.[3]

Proposed member republics, Autonomous republics (ASSR) and the Autonomous oblasts (AO)Edit

Union republics (SSR)Edit

Former Autonomous republics (ASSR) and the Autonomous oblasts (AO)Edit

Republics (SSR), Autonomous republics (ASSR) and the Autonomous oblasts (AO) that rejected the TreatyEdit

Former Union republics (SSR)Edit

Former Autonomous republics (ASSR) and the Autonomous oblasts (AO)Edit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "Union of Sovereign States". 28 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Mikhail Gorbachev". Biography. 28 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Commonwealth of Independent States". Britannica. 28 November 2021.