When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it had no concept of what a free market was (with the exception of the illegal black markets). However, when the Iron Curtain came crashing down, American companies were quick to enter the new market that contained millions of new potential customers.
Gorbachev, who is often credited with the dissolution of the Soviet Union (for better and worse), embraced the idea of a free market. He even appeared in an international TV spot, pitching pizza for Pizza Hut, a commercial that I remember seeing as a kid in the late ’90’s (although he only decided to make the appearance so he could fund his foundation).
The commercial shows that the former Soviet Union, Russia especially, has gone through a huge change since its rebirth. Buying food within a Soviet Union grocery store (I use that term loosely) was likely to get you sick from food poisoning. If someone who defected to the U.S. from the Soviet Union and they were taken to an American grocery store, they would often accuse the Americans of staging the store for propaganda purposes.
However, some in the former Soviet Union and even the Warsaw Pact had a different understanding of what exactly capitalism is. In the following video, it is explained Mr. “Ivanov” sees no difference in selling condominiums and bombs because it is all capitalism.
It is clear that the old Soviet economy is out and a new, more liberal economy is in. Some may lament over the nostalgia of a bi-polar world that was split between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., but it is easier to argue that their are more winners when Russia and the rest of the former Soviet states are intertwined with the rest of the world’s economy.