With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Russian Federation became an independent country. Russia was the largest of the fifteen republics that made up the Soviet Union, accounting for over 60% of the GDP and over half of the Soviet population. Russians also dominated the Soviet military and the Communist Party. Thus, Russia was widely accepted as the Soviet Union's successor state in diplomatic affairs and it assumed the USSR's permanent membership and veto in the UN Security Council; see Russia and the United Nations.
Despite this acceptance, post-Soviet Russia lacked the military and political power of the former USSR. Russia managed to make the other ex-Soviet republics voluntarily disarm themselves of nuclear weapons and concentrated them under the command of the still effective rocket and space forces, but for the most part the Russian army and fleet were in near disarray by 1992. Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin had been elected President of Russia in June 1991 in the first direct presidential election in Russian history. In October 1991, as Russia was on the verge of independence, Yeltsin announced that Russia would proceed with radical market-oriented reform along the lines of Poland's "big bang," also known as "shock therapy."
Russia today shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past.