European Countries

History of Soviet Union Part 9

In terms of foreign policy, the Soviet Union, also under the leadership of LI Brezhnev, was anxious to maintain its supremacy in the Eastern Bloc without restriction; it largely determined the planning of the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (Comecon) and the Warsaw Pact. With the thesis of the “limited sovereignty of the socialist states” (Brezhnev Doctrine) she founded the occupation of Czechoslovakia (1968) and the associated suppression of reform communist efforts there. In the course of the renewal of “friendship and assistance treaties” with the European Eastern Bloc countries and an ever closer interweaving of relations with them, the Soviet Union sought to secure its western area of ​​influence, but, as in Poland in 1981, was exposed to signs of disintegration. Unlike in 1968 in the ČSSR, the Soviet Union no longer had the option of military intervention.

In the world-political tension of the East-West conflict, the Soviet Union sought to maintain its own sphere of power and influence, if necessary to expand it. It continued the diplomacy of détente as it further developed its nuclear and conventional weapons potential. In July 1968 she signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with the United States and Great Britain. At the beginning of the 1970s she took up initiatives by the Federal Republic of Germany (under Chancellor W. Brandt) and signed the Moscow Treaty with her in 1970. This step was – in connection with the Warsaw Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and Poland (1970) – an essential prerequisite for the conclusion of the “Four Power Agreement on Berlin” (1972, Berlin Agreement). In 1969 negotiations began between the Soviet Union and the USA on the limitation of their nuclear weapons systems: the SALT-I treaty was concluded in 1972 and the SALT-II treaty (SALT) in 1979. With the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, 1972-75), the Soviet Union achieved recognition of the status quo in Europe, but was confronted internally with the human and civil rights demands made in the “Helsinki Final Act” (1975). Towards the end of the 1970s, the arms-political controversy between NATO and the Warsaw Pact (particularly over the construction of new Soviet medium-range missiles) triggered tensions in East-West relations (NATO double decision), which in 1983 led to disarmament negotiations being broken off (Disarmament). The invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops (at the end of December 1979) aroused worldwide criticism, it weakened the Soviet position in the Third World, which had been well developed up to that point: with its policy of “anti-colonialism” and “support for revolutionary liberation movements”, the Soviet Union had an impact in Africa and Asia gained great influence (including support for Marxist revolutionary forces in Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia). In an ideological and power-political rivalry with the People’s Republic of China, the Soviet Union supported the communist forces in the Vietnam War and, after the victory of the Vietnamese communists (1975), strengthened its position in Southeast Asia. The Soviet Union had a friendship treaty with India since 1971. In the Middle East conflict, the Soviet leadership supported the radical anti-Israel forces (i.a.

The time of internal reforms and the reshaping of foreign policy under Gorbachev

According to philosophynearby, with the election of M. Gorbachev as party leader in 1985, a generation change began in the Soviet leadership, into which numerous reform politicians rose (extensive reshuffles in the political bureau of the CPSU as well as in the party and administrative heads of the individual Union republics); E. Shevardnadze replaced Foreign Minister AA Gromyko , who had been in office since 1957 and who assumed the post of chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (until 1988). The perestroika introduced by M. Gorbachev originally aimed at modernizing Soviet society while maintaining the communist orientation and maintaining the leadership role of the CPSU. The second characteristic of perestroika was the public information and discussion about all important social issues (glasnost), which at the same time represented a departure from the restrictive and selective information policy of the CPSU. The loosening of censorship since 1986 gave the mass media, especially the press, a leeway that they filled in, freed from the ideological monopoly, in journalistic competition. Was initially developed as part of Glasnost v. a. Criticism of the deficits of everyday Soviet life (privileges of the nomenclature, bureaucratism, corruption, etc.) were then among others. the beginning of a critical reappraisal of Soviet history (e.g. Stalinism; 1990 government decision on a general rehabilitation of all victims of Stalinism from the 1920s to 1950s) or social conflicts (Afghan war, nationality issue) on the agenda. The process of criticism, however, took on a life of its own; the government could no longer channel it. The glasnost increasingly questioned the ideological foundations of the Soviet regime and contributed decisively to its collapse. The ambivalence of the Soviet public and information policy, v. a. But also the failures and grievances that reached into high circles of Soviet officials were revealed by the handling of the nuclear reactor disaster in Chernobyl (Ukraine) on April 26, 1986, which was initially downplayed by the official side, and which caused large European areas in addition to the particularly badly affected republics of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia were radioactively contaminated outside the Soviet Union. Economic reforms (self-administration of businesses, authorization of private retail trade, cooperative law, [land] lease law, etc.)

In terms of foreign and security policy, the policy of perestroika manifested itself in a “new way of thinking”, the elements of which were détente diplomacy, a unilateral nuclear test ban (1985-87), a gradual improvement in Soviet-American relations and progress in international disarmament, which took place in December 1987 culminated in the INF treaty for the elimination of medium-range missiles between the USA and the Soviet Union. Incidentally, the Soviet Union withdrew its troops (most recently around 115,000 men) from Afghanistan from May 1988 to February 1989 (according to official figures, 13,830 Soviet soldiers have been killed since 1979, unofficial calculations name around 50,000 dead, 180,000 wounded and 1,000 Missing). At the first summit between the Soviet Union and China since 1959, mutual relations were restored to normal in May 1989. The “new thinking” made possible not only the end of the Cold War, but also within the framework of the gradual departure from the Soviet claim to hegemony in the countries of the Eastern bloc the processes of social upheaval 1989–91.

History of Soviet Union 9