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Dangerous confrontations
The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
·The Berlin Blockade in 1948 - the Soviets cut off
·Soviet leader Khrushchev placed nuclear
land access to the Western zone of Berlin,
weapons in its newly - communist Cuba (partly to
forcing the Western allies to airlift supplies until
deter a US invasion) and the US, under President
the USSR gave way.
Kennedy blockaded Cuba, leading to the risk of
·The Korean War in 1950-3 - communist North
fighting between the USA and USSR and a
Koreans (encouraged by the USSR) attacked
nuclear war.
pro-Western South Korea, leading to a war
·The crisis was ended by a Soviet climb-down and
involving a US-led UN force and China
a secret deal; the danger concentrated the leaders
(communist since 1949) . Ended in a stalemate.
of the superpowers' minds on the risks of
confrontation and led to confidence-building
measures like the `hot line'.
·The USA was determined to prevent the
spread of communism to non-communist Characteristics of Throughout the Cold War, the USSR
countries, e.g. in the Vietnam War and the Cold War suppressed attempts by its `allies' to
sought to overthrow left wing shake free of its control (invading
governments in Cuba, Chile and Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia
Nicaragua. Both sides fuelled local in 1968).
conflicts by supplying client countries or
armed groups with money, advisers and
·President Nixon began a policy of improved
· The intensity of the
relations with both the USSR and China after 1968,
hostility between the
leading to a period of greater cooperation, for
2 blocs fluctuated
Terminology instance with the SALT Treaties and the 1975
and there were
·The term `Cold War' is Helsinki Agreement, under which the two sides
periods of bitter
used because: it was a accepted the post 1945 European borders and
confrontation and
period of hostility but not promised to respect human rights.
periods of `thaw' (for
fighting ­ there was an ·The basic rivalry remained, however, and flared up
instance, after the
arms race, ideological when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979
death of Stalin in
competition and a struggle began the `Second Cold War'.
for influence over other
states.…read more

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The nuclear arms race led to a massive increase in Agreements
the number of nuclear weapons each side possessed ·While seeking to gain the edge over their adversary,
(vertical proliferation). The arms race also led to the both sides came to recognise the benefits of managing
development of more effective weapons; both sides the arms race to reduce its risks and burdens.
had atom bombs by 1949 and went on to develop ·1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty banned tests in
hydrogen bombs; later the US developed the neutron the atmosphere, sea or locations where fall-out
bomb. could spread across borders.
·There was also proliferation of delivery vehicles, ·1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed to stop the
(MIRVs)., cruise missiles and of weapons with spread of nuclear weapons beyond the 5 existing
different ranges. nuclear powers.
Vertical proliferation:
·Refers to nuclear weapons Agreements continued
The Arms
states researching and ·1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty
developing new types of (SALT 1) placed a 5-year freeze on levels of
nuclear weapons, technology, ICBMs and SLBMs.
materials and means of ·ABM Treaty limited the deployment of
warhead delivery. antiballistic missile defence systems to
equal and low levels on each side.
·1979 SALT 2 placed limits of 2,250 nuclear
delivery systems on each side and limited
the number of warheads per missile.
Agreements continued
·The aim of both sides was
·These agreements seemed to be
deterrence, which partly
breakthroughs, but they were intended
involved the surety of MAD
to limit the pace of the arms race and
and also the knowledge that
ensure a balance on both sides, rather
each level of threat could be
than leading to disarmament (in fact,
countered (NATO's doctrine of
SALT 2 allowed for a substantial
`flexible response').
growth in the number of weapons).…read more

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·By the mid-1980s the Soviet leadership had Collapse
recognised the urgency of reform within the USSR; ·Gorbachev had hoped to reform the USSR but keep it intact. He also
better relations with the West were needed to reduce allowed change in Eastern Europe but hoped that it would stay aligned with
the burden that military spending was placing on their the USSR. Both hopes proved false:
weak economy and to gain access to Western trade ·Relaxation of repression in Eastern Europe allowed opposition
and technology. After Gorbachev became leader in movements to emerge and win popular backing. Mass
1985, relations rapidly improved. demonstrations 1989-90 forced the communist regimes to hold
·Summit meetings between Gorbachev and free elections and surrender power.
Reagan created a climate of goodwill and the ·Berlin Wall was breached and after elections defeated the
ideological and military confrontation that communists, the momentum for the reunion of Germany became
had started the Cold War began to end. unstoppable. In the USSR, Gorbachev's attempt to restructure the
Gorbachev allowed more freedom within the economy failed to bring change fast enough ­ most of the
USSR and its satellites and started to population faced falling living standards.
withdraw troops from Afghanistan and ·Relaxation of censorship led to criticism of communist rule and
Eastern Europe. the growth of nationalist movements in the non-Russian
Republics, which threatened to break up the USSR itself. Hard-
line communists launched a coup against Gorbachev which failed
because of the resistance of Yeltsin, his supporters in Moscow
and the sympathy of sections of the army.
`Second Cold War' ·Following the coup the leaders of the Republics led by Yeltsin
·The `Second Cold War' began with the Soviet
moved to ban the Communist Party and in 1991 they declared
invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and intensified
after the election of the anti-Soviet President their independence and dissolved the USSR, replacing it with a
Reagan in 1980, who backed forces fighting left loose grouping, the Commonwealth of Independent States.
wing governments in Afghanistan, Angola and The End of
Nicaragua and escalated the arms race. the Cold
·Hostility was also increased in 1981 by the
imposition of martial law in Poland to crush the War
pro-democracy `Solidarity' movement.
·A consequence of the improved atmosphere was a series of agreements that
for the first time involved disarmament (as opposed to limiting the pace of
increase). This suited both superpowers ­ even the US was feeling the strain
of defence spending.
Result ·1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty -medium range
·By 1991, therefore, the Eastern Bloc had land-based nuclear weapons in Europe removed and destroyed,
completely collapsed. The new non- verified by on-site inspections.
communist governments of Eastern Europe ·1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty - cut levels of strategic
dissolved the Warsaw Pact and Comecon
nuclear weapons by a third. Supplementary agreement by Yeltsin and
and sought to join NATO and the EU. The
Soviet armed forces were withdrawn and Bush in 1993 made even deeper cuts ­ c3,500 on both sides, with no
the Soviet Union itself collapsed. The MIRVs on land-based ICBMs.
ideological battle ended with communism ·1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty - made deep cuts in
discredited and a move to a free enterprise conventional weapons from the Atlantic to the Urals, leaving NATO
system with varying degrees of speed. with superiority.…read more

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Political and Economic Weakness
Russia's reduced global impact partly reflects its economic and political
weakness since the fall of the USSR. Political and Economic Weakness
The Russian economy was pushed into a rushed attempt to convert ·There were success stories and a middle class
from a command to a market system. Millions lost their jobs or found began to grow, but the experience was traumatic and
their wages cut as factories closed or reduced production. The old Russia went backwards economically with output
elite found ways of remaining in control of the new privatized falling by 53% in the decade after the collapse of
companies and the system that emerged bore was not like the West' communism. The State's ability to maintain the social
s. It was full of corruption and violence that acted as a deterrent for infrastructure, armed forces etc was undermined by
free enterprise and foreign investment. massive corruption and tax evasion, millions of public
sector workers and pensioners were impoverished,
and Russia was forced to default on its debts in
·Russia couldn't maintain effective armed forces (e.
g. Chechnya - small numbers of rebels humiliated
HOWEVER: large but demoralized Russian forces; victory only
·Russia is in most respects a shadow of the came as a result of massive firepower.) It also found
superpower that the USSR was. it difficult to maintain its nuclear forces at their current
·Smaller in territory and population (287 down to 149 level.
million in 1991, now 143 million), with millions of ethnic
Russians now living outside its borders (and the
Kaliningrad enclave cut off by the Baltic States). Its
economy is smaller than that of Spain's and it's control Russia After the
over Eastern Europe has gone and has been replaced Cold War
by NATO and the EU. In the wider world, the network of
client states like Cuba and Angola that were aligned Conclusion
with the USSR has withered away. ·On the surface, Russian democracy
survived, but it didn't operate like
democracies in the West. The freedom of the
media to criticise the government was
increasingly restricted. Under Yeltsin a small
circle of industrialists and media tycoons
Despite the fall of the USSR, Russia remains an important player in wielded great power.
the international system: ·The regions within the Russian federation
· Russia still has nuclear weapons were in many cases run on authoritarian lines
·Russia is still the biggest country in the world and therefore has massive and human rights abuses were committed in
oil and mineral reserves Chechnya. Governments were very unstable,
with a succession of Prime Ministers.
·Still militarily strong
·Russians had greater freedom but economic
· Has influence on the world stage ­ can see nuclear conditions and crime led many to become
weapons/technology/information disillusioned with democracy, voting for
·Still had influence on Eastern Europe/Central Asia extreme nationalist parties or the
·Has the ability to cause trouble for pro-Western ex Soviet bloc countries communists; the latter won a quarter of the
·In the G* and is a permanent member of the UNSC ­ has a veto. vote in 1999.…read more

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There was also competition between the US
and Russia for influence in some of the
former Soviet Republics such as Georgia
and the Ukraine. These developments were
regarded as the US taking advantage of
Russia's weakness and were bitterly ·The typical response was bluster and
resented. threats followed by climb-downs as Russia
had to accept that it had not got the means
to prevent these developments ­its
conventional military forces were very
weak, so that it was hard pressed to
produce a forces of only a few thousand for
·After a brief honeymoon period in the early Bosnia and Kosovo, and it couldn't afford
1990s, when Russia joined a number of another cold war with the West, on which it
Western institutions including NATO's Russian Foreign depended for trade and financial help.
Partnership For Peace, relations between Policy in the
Russia and the West worsened as Russia had
to face Western intrusions into what it saw as
its sphere of influence in the former Soviet Bloc
­ the expansion of NATO in 1999 to Poland,
the Czech Republic and Hungary and the
Kosovo War in 1999.
·The climb-downs were accompanied by face-saving devices
like the NATO-Russia joint council set up at the time of NATO
enlargement. On the whole the West was ready to sooth
Russia by offering concessions that flattered its sense of being
a great power (like the `G8'), although not giving financial aid
on the scale Russia wanted and not backing down and
accepting a Russian veto over NATO enlargement.
·Although Russia's opposition to the Kosovo War was
disregarded, efforts were made to coordinate attempts at a
settlement and Russia played a valuable role in ending the
war.…read more

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Old Sir

For any student looking to quickly grasp the recent history of Russia's relations with the USA in particular, this information-heavy Powerpoint might be a good starting point. At the same time, however, it is important to consider how this knowledge might fit into any discussion of US globalism, Russia's stance on the world stage and, in particular, Russia's contribution to the work of the UN.

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