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In February 1992, Baker visited the remaining republics and diplomatic relations were established with Uzbekistan, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.Civil war in Georgia prevented its recognition and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States until May 1992.Planned by hard-line Communists, the coup diminished Gorbachev’s power and propelled Yeltsin and the democratic forces to the forefront of Soviet and Russian politics.

Of paramount concern was securing the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union and making certain nuclear weapons did not fall into the wrong hands.

In early December, Yeltsin and the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus met in Brest to form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), effectively declaring the demise of the Soviet Union.

On December 25, 1991, the Soviet hammer and sickle flag lowered for the last time over the Kremlin, thereafter replaced by the Russian tricolor.

The Soviet nuclear arsenal was vast, as were Soviet conventional forces, and further weakening of Gorbachev could derail further arms control negotiations. Bush administration officials also, however, increased contact with Yeltsin.

The unsuccessful August 1991 coup against Gorbachev sealed the fate of the Soviet Union.

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