How and why relations between the USA and USSR changed between 1980 and 1991

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  • Explain how and why relations between the US and the USSR changed between 1980-1991
    • The policies and actions of Reagan
      • Changes in leadership lead to changes in relations in the 80s. Reagan was a key reason for changes
        • Called the USSR 'The Evil Empire'
          • Initially denounced the USSR and used the US economic superiority to increase spending on nuclear missiles
            • He supported the development of the Strategic Defence Initiative/'Star Wars' programme in 1983
              • A laser system to create a shield around the US, and drive away Soviet missiles
                • His position changed upon Gorbachev coming into power
                  • Reagan began a policy of diplomacy
                    • Negotiated the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty
                      • He also called for Gorbachev to tear the Berlin Wall
                        • These greatly impacted relations between the US and the USSR
    • The policies and actions of Gorbachev
      • Relations improved under Gorbachev in 1985
        • He wanted reform and his policies of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (economic reform) had a big impact on USSR control over Eastern Europe
          • He believed the USSR no longer needed a buffer zone
            • He abandoned the Brezhnev Doctrine
              • He ensured that communist governments in Eastern Europe would no longer be propped up by the Red Army
                • He was keen on ending the nuclear arms race which was a drain on the economy
                  • He cut spending on defence and signed nuclear arms reduction treaties with Reagan and Bush
                    • By 1989 both the USA and the USSR agreed the Cold War was over
    • Events in Eastern Europe 1989-1991
      • Growing resentment at political repression and economic decline resulted in the sudden collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989
        • 'the year of miracles' as the communist party lost control in most Eastern European countries
          • In East Germany, Eric Honecker, the communist leader, resisted Gorbachev's reforms
            • During 1989 thousands of East Germans had fled to the West through Hungary
              • On 9th November 1989 thousands of demonstrators forced their way through the Berlin Wall using pick axes and hammers
                • In October 1990 East and West Germany were reunited with the new capital in Berlin
                  • Free elections in Hungary and Czechoslovakia led to non-communist governments
                    • For a time, East Germany, Romania and Bulgaria stayed loyal to the USSR and communism
                      • In 1990 the unpopular communist leader in Romania was executed  and the communist government in Bulgaria resigned
                        • In July 1991, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved removing one of the key symbols of East-West divisions
    • Conclusion
      • By 1991 the end of the Cold War and the reforms Gorbachev brought an end to communist control in the USSR. However, this did not bring about peace but opened the way for a new kind of conflict to emerge
    • Introduction
      • During the period 1980-1991 the Cold War descended to new depths of tension, but also reached new heights of co-operation. Under the leadership of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev the events that helped the Cold War come to an end were introduced

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