Ronald Reagan

January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989

First steps


Both Gorbachev's desire to shape a new foreign policy and so bring to an end the Second Cold War, and the fact that Reagan's approach began to moderate at the same time, enabled the processes of negotiation to progress. In particular, it was agreed to resume the arms-control negotiations, which had ended after the Soviet Union walked out in November 1983. However, Gorbachev was quick to take steps to push the pace. In April 1985, he froze further deployments of the ss-20s; in August he declared a temporary halt to Soviet underground nuclear testing; in September he proposed that the USSR and the US reduce all strategic nuclear weapons stocks by 50%, and in October, he announced plans for a reduction in the number of Soviet missiles in Eastern Europe. Over the next three years, four US-Soviet summits on arms control. took place

Mikhail Gorbachev

March 11, 1985 - December 25, 1991

Mikhail Gorbachev's election as general secretary of the CPSU in March 1985 turned out to be the beginning of the end of the Cold War-and, as it turned out, the end of the Soviet Union itself. Gorbachev is reported to have said, just before taking over as general secretary, we can't go on living like this'. As the youngest and the first university-educated leader since Stalin to hold this position, it was unlikely that social and economic, political and foreign policies would remain the same. Gorbachev had ties to the Soviet military élite and had grown close to reform-minded few importance experts. These experts tended to stress the of local issues over global ideological consideration Part of Gorbachev's new approach thus involved rethinking Soviet priorities and removing "Marxist-Leninist' i as the main factor in determining Soviet foreign policy. According to one of his closest aides, Gorbachev changed his ideas about international relations early in 1986. Though the collapse of the USSR does not seem to have been Gorbachev's intention, he certainly did set out deliberately to end the Cold War. Gorbachev's main concern was to end the stagnation of the Soviet economy, then to revitalise it, and to ensure the security of the Soviet system. He realised that the financial burden of maintaining the military power of the USSR was too great, and that its effect on the Soviet economy and on the living standards of consumers would ultimately undermine Soviet security. He also calculated that the USA's huge budget deficit meant that it too could not maintain its increased defence expenditure for much longer. He thus calculated that it might be possible to prevent Reagan from developing his SDI project by initiating new round of arms-reduction talks.

What made Gorbachev different?
While Gorbachev's domestic policy was shaped by his three policies of glasnost and demokratizatsiya, he also applied another policy to foreign affairs, known as "Novoe Myshlenie',or NewThinking. Gorbachev's NewThinking argued that confrontation was counterproductive, and that continuing the arms race was pointless, as one side's advance was simply matched or even bettered by the other. He also believed that only political accommodation, not military power, would enable problems to be solved and real security achieved. part of this approach, he decided to state publicly what had, in fact, long been the reality of Soviet foreign policy: that the ideology and language of class war should not shape the Soviet Union's diplomacy. While New Thinking contained elements of traditional Soviet foreign policy such aiming peaceful coexistence and détente with the West, Gorbachev's new policy was also markedly different. In particular, he dropped the dual-track policy of peaceful coexistence as a way of ensuring Soviet security and the peaceful long-term victory of socialism across the world. Gorbachev's stated aim now was simply Soviet security Khrushchev's idea of a peaceful but competitive coexistence was clearly abandoned. Gorbachev's new approach was signalled by his appointment of Eduard Shevardnadze as foreign minister. At his first Central Committee meeting in April 1985, Gorbachev announced his wish to reopen talks and the need to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan. He also spoke of what he called "reasonable sufficiency an early indication of his belief that the arms race need not continue, as all that was needed was the military capacity to threaten an effective counter In particular, unlike the previous Soviet leadership, he was prepared to consider seriously Reagan Zero proposal, which suggested the removal of all intermediate-range missiles from Europe. This was a clear rejection of the policy parity followed of by Brezhnev. However, while Gorbachev's ideas and approach made him extremely popular abroad, caused growing criticism from more conservative quarters within the Soviet Union itself.

Geneva summit

November 1985

The first summit and it took place in November 1985.
Although there were no significant agreement it was the first summit with this purpose between the two superpowers for 6 years.
Reagan wanted to reduce the ICBMs in USSR but they were still scared of the “star wars” program.
Gorbachev however purposed multiple peaceful agreement during and after the treaty, these include:
A declaration between USSR and USA that they would never be the first to launch a nuclear attack.
USA, Reagan, wanted to still have the nuclear option.
In january 1986, he purposed the total elimination of nuclear weapons by the end of the century.
Other treaties followed and he eventually proposed a withdrawal of tactical nukes in Europe.
Lastly in April 1986 he proposed a reduction in NATO and Warsaw pact forces.

Reykjavik Summit

October 1986

The second Reagan-Gorbachev summit, which took place in Reykjavik in October 1986, was predictably not as a good-natured as Geneva had been once again, the USA's Strategic Defence Initiative was the main item of contention. At first, Gorbachev tried to move the talks from consideration of reductions and limitations to complete nuclear disarmament, and Reagan called for the complete elimination of all ballistic nuclear missiles within ten years. Soviet leaders realized that their ailing economy would not withstand the strain of attempting to keep up with the technological advances of the US. The agreement was reached in principle that strategic nuclear weapons should be cut by 50% and that medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe should be withdrawn. However, arguments about SDI finally caused the summit break up as Reagan refused to abandon SDI, while Gorbachev said further reductions could not happen without this step. As a consequence, no actual agreements were made, and so it seemed a deadlock had been reached. Nonetheless, Gorbachev described the summit as an "intellectual breakthrough' in relations between the USSR and the USA. This deadlock was broken by Gorbachev in February 1987, when he offered to accept the NATO policy of the zero-zero option on the deployment of SS-20s and Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe. In essence, this meant that both sides would withdraw their missiles. Gorbachev's acceptance of NATO's terms was a complete reversal of what had been a Soviet policy on this issue for ten years. It was a huge concession by the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev's critics in the USSR saw this as a dangerous surrender. In November, Gorbachev acknowledged that human rights needed to be improved in the Soviet bloc and that the "Iron Curtain' should be lifted. He also spoke of the need to avoid superpower confrontation in the Developing world.

Washington Summit

December 1987

As a result of Gorbachev's offer, a third summit meeting took place, in Washington in December 1 This resulted in the signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which agreed that all land-based intermediate- and shorter-range nuclear missiles would be withdrawn from Europe. This was the first arms agreement to be signed since 1979; it was also unique never before had arms-reduction talks led to the elimination of an entire category of nuclear weapons The INF Treaty was also historically important as, for the first time in arms control agreements, the two sides accepted verification procedures, which included access to data and the witnessing of weapons destruction. Thus the arms race was not just slowed down by the INF Treaty, but was actually reversed At this stage, there were signs that the Cold War would end via a mutually agreed settlement.

Moscow Summit

May 1988

the next summit meeting took place in Moscow in May 1988. Prior to this, The next summit Gorbachev had ken another step towards easing tensions between East and West by announcing that the Soviet Union would withdraw its forces from Afghanistan with insisting on any guarantees on the type of government which might come to power in that country. This had long been insisted on by the US, and had been resisted by previous Soviet leaders including Gorbachev himself at first. By April 1988, an international conference in Geneva had resulted in an greement to end all foreign invol vement in the Afghan war. Gorbachev even hinted that Soviet troops might soon be withdrawn from Eastern Europe. By February 1989, after almost ten years of fighting, the last units of the Red Army had left Afghanistan Despite this, the Moscow summit achieved little as, once again, arguments about the Star Wars project blocked any agreement on the reduction strategic nuclear weapons. then, however, Gorbachev had effectively destroyed Reagan's attempt to depict the Soviet Union as an "evil empire, and Reagan himself had stated publicly that his earlier view of the USSR had changed, saying that the phrase belonged to another time, another era'. However, vice- president Bush commented that "the Cold War is not over fact, Gorbachev was soon scoring higher in Us opinion polls than politicians. What became known as "Gorbimania' hit Western Europe, as people responded to his attempts to end the arms race and his talk of a common European home

Revolutions of 1989

1 January 1989 - 31 december 1989


In addition to the economic problems of the USSR. developments in Eastern Europe also played key the ending of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR. In particular, the period from the late 1970s/early 1980s saw the re-emergence of a new nationalism in many of the Soviet Union's European satellites. The first country to show signs this was Poland, where dissatisfaction the poor economic situation in the country had led to industrial unrest and strikes. In Gdansk, a successful strike in the shipyards led to the formation of an independent trade union known as Solidarity, under the leadership Lech Walesa
By 1981, Solidarity had claimed a membership of ten million - much to the concern of Brezhnev and other Soviet leaders. December 1981, a section the Polish army had been able to get General of Jarulzelski installed as prime minister Jarulzelski, who wanted to maintain links with Moscow, had declared martial law, banned Solidarity and thousands of activists. had restored by the economic problems and declining living standards continued, and in the late 1980s trouble reappeared. Gorbachev made increasingly clear that he was unwilling to use military force to maintain Soviet influence over the Soviet satellites. Part of his New Thinking was based on the idea that the Soviet Union, and Eastern and Western Europe, shared common European home of particular importance was Gorbachev's public abandonment of the Brezhnev Doctrine in March 1985. He made it clear that Soviet troops would not be sent into any Eastern European state, either to defend an existing regime or mass popular movements. This was reform communist treated at a Warsaw Pact meeting in April 1985. Yet when Gorbachev came to power in 1 most regimes in the Soviet bloc seemed reasonably secure and stable Many of Gorbachev's critics soon blamed the collapse of these states n a period of only four years-on Gorbachev's policies. On 7 December 1988, Gorbachev made a speech to the United Nations in which he announced that the number of Soviet troops committed to the Warsaw Pact would be cut by 500,000, and reiterated that he would not use the Soviet army to maintain control satellite countries. As part of his approach, Gorbachev also encouraged the policies of perestroika, glasnost, and demokratizasiya (see page 191)in the Soviet Union's Eastern European satellites. Some of these were similar to the ideas developed earlier by reform communists in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1960s and 1970s. While man citizens in these countries were keen to enjoy the new freedoms being allowed n the USSR, several Eastern European governments had grave doubts. However, the ruling communists in Hungary and Poland welcomed the new opportunity for reform. Soon, Eastern Europe saw the rise of mass movements which, as well as calling for economic reforms, also demanded greater democracy and various versions of the earlier Czechoslovakian 'Prague spring' of 1968which had tried to establish 'socialism with a human speech to the UN in December 1988, when he declared that ideology should play a smaller part in foreign affairs, and announced major reductions of Soviet forces in Eastern Europe, also encouraged hopes for reform. Some elements in these popular grass- roots movements, however, wanted to go further to re-establish the power of the Church and to restore capitalism.

George H. W. Bush

1989 - 1993

Fall of communist Poland

January 1989

Poland, solidarity was legalised in January 1989 and in April it agreed package of economic reforms with the These included August to be held in which resulted in clear victory for 1989, the new Polish parliament elected the first prim minister to rule in Eastern Europe in over 40 years. The significant aspect these developments was that Gorbachev, in line with his earlier statements did not intervene to support the old communist regimes. The movements in the rest Eastern Europe were thus encouraged to continue their demands.

Fall of communist Romania


The one exception to these peaceful revolutions was Romania, where Nicolae Ceausescu, the country's leader, tried to use the security forces to crush demonstrators, on Christmas Eve, the US ambassador in Moscow signalled that there would be no objections if Gorbachev sent in Soviet troops to help Romanian army against Ceausescu This suggestion, and the Soviet refusal intervene, were significant indications that the Cold War was virtually Ceausescu and his wife tried to flee, but were arrested by the army, and were executed on Christmas Day 1989 More significantly, the Soviet Union had allowed the disappearance security belt which had been the foundation and main aim of its foreign policy since 1945, and which had played a large part in the start of the Cold War hardline communists in these Eastern European states, who had used a form of nationalism to bolster their regimes, soon found themselves outflanked overtaken by nationalists on the right, who began to stir up ethnic prejudices against minorities such as the Roma and the Sinti, and Jewish people.

Collapse of the Soviet bloc


This new Soviet policy of non-intervention was the result of combination of Gorbachev's belief in democracy and his recognition that the Soviet Union was politically unable to intervene, The collapse of the Soviet bloc was a clear indication of the serious decline of the USSR, both internally and externally, the end of the 1980s. In fact, all these Eastern European states had been heavily in debt to the Soviet Union, thus adding to its own economic problems. Most commentators welcomed these developments, but a small minority, while supporting the reforms, nonetheless urged caution. historian Eric for example, warned that the collapse of one-party regimes in Eastern Europe would not necessarily result in tolerant and popular regimes. In particular, he pointed out that before 1945, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, the governments in that area had been authoritarian and often racist, especially towards their Jewish, and the Sinti and Roma, minorities. He also commented that, as a condition for receiving loans from the West the new governments would be applying neo-capitalist policies in relatively backward economies, and this would cause great hardship for the majority of their populations. Both jobs and social services would be cut. However, the changes would also provide opportunities for a small minority to become very wealthy.

Fall of communist Hungary

September 1989

I n Hungary, reform communists had been carrying out their own Gorbachev style policies for some time. These moves increased in the late 1980s, and in 1989 it was agreed that multi-party elections would be held Gorbachev accepted these developments in both Hungary and Poland. took developments in the GDR to accelerate the pace of change in the rest of Eastern Europe, but it was Hungary's decision, in August 1989, to open its border with Austria that sparked off the crisis in East Germany. By September 1989, thousands of East Germans were crossing to West Germany via Hungary and Austria, provoking an economic crisis similar to the one that had led to the building of the Berlin Wall.

Fall of communist Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria

27 October 1989

The events in East Germany stimulated mass protests in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. In Czechoslovakia, people were reminded of the Prague Spring of 1968 The communist government resigned and a multi-party system was established As a result of this "Velvet Revolution', led mainly by the Civic Forum group. Vaclav Havel, a dissident and playwright, became president. On 27 October, the countries of the Warsaw Pact, including the USSR, issued a statement condemning the 1968 invasion, Bromising never again to interfere in the affairs of member states, and guaranteeing that there would be no military intervention to support unpopular governments. In Bulgaria, too, mass demonstrations to the government's resignation and a multi-party democracy.

Fall of East Germany

November 7 1989

In East Germany, Honecker unlike Ulbricht in 1961 could not rely on Soviet support. Although the East German economy was relatively successful, and,like all Soviet bloc countries, provided its citizens with cheap transport, electricity living standards in many areas were below those enjoyed in the West. Demonstrations in support of democracy spread across the GDR. on 18 october, Honecker resigned as leader of communist party and was replaced by Egon However, the demonstrations many of them a group known as New Forum grew even culminating in a massive protest in East Berlin on 4 November, attended by almost 500,000 people. Gorbachev then made it clear to the G that it should form closer ties with West Germany, pointing out that the USSR could no longer afford to subsidise its economy On 7 November, the government of the GDR resigned and, on 8 November, Krenz decided to open the Berlin Wall. Thousands of people rushed to the checkpoints and poured through. Soon, people from both East and West Berlin began to demolish the Berlin Wall, which, since its construction in 1961, had come to symbolise the Cold War.

Fall of Berlin Wall

9 November 1989

Malta summit

11/18/1990 - 12/02/1990

The collapse of the Eastern European regimes and hence of the Soviet buffer zone played a big part in ending the Cold War. At the Malta Summit in December 1989, Gorbachev and Bush officially declared the end of the Cold War. This symbolic statement came about when Gorbachev announced that the USSR no longer saw the US as an enemy. The US offered economic help, and the two parties reached informal agreements on the future of Eastern Europe, Germany and the Baltic republics. On the latter issue, Gorbachev was prepared to consider a loosening of their ties to the USSR but not, at first, their independence. They also agreed to work towards reducing the size of conventional forces in Europe. After the Malta Summit,Shevardnadze claimed the Cold War had been buried at the bottom of the Mediterranean

Fall of the USSR

December 26, 1991

Initially, when some Soviet republics especially the Baltic republics began to push independence, the US stated that it was not in favour the break up of Soviet Union, and seemed to prefer Gorbachev's plans for a looser confederation to those of Boris Yeltsin, the newly elected president of the Russian republic the largest and most important of the 15 republics that made up the USSR. Yeltsin was pushing for a separate Russian republic. when violent clashes occurred in Lithuania and Latvia in January 1991 between protestors and Soviet security forces, the US did not break off relations with the Soviet Union. The CFE treaty was speeded up, resulting in the US announcing $1.5 billion worth of credits for the UssR to purchase grain, but tensions began to resurface.
This stemmed from US insistence that significant economic aid would not be forthcoming unless the soviet Union moved to a market, or Matters were made worse when the KGB claimed to have evidence of US attempts to bring about the disintegration of the USSR. However, developments under Gorbachev especially the loss of Eastern Europe some his and the acceptance of Soviet nuclear inferiority continued to alarm in the Soviet leadership. These fears were underlined in 1991, when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, leaving NATO unchallenged. In addition, his economic policies had not resulted in any significant improvement, and both Gorbachev and his government, while popular abroad, were support at home..
A group of political and military leaders, who were also opposed to plans give more power to the Soviet republics, decided to overthrow new draft Union Treaty, granting such powers, had been given mass support in a referendum in March 1991; the plotters feared it might result in the disintegration of the USSR.