Failure of Detente


Helsinki Agreement

August 1975

  • West recognised frontiers of Eastern Europe and acknowledged Soviet influence in that area
  • Soviets agreed to buy US grain and to export oil to the west
  • All countries agreed to improve human rights - freedom of speech/religion/movement


  • Eastern Europe campaign groups for greater freedom
  • economic consequences in Eastern bloc
  • allowed easter communist governments to borrow money from the West - huge debts
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Pressure for Detente


  • Brezhnev wanted to exte to and peaceful co-existence policy and to persuade the West to accept Soviet control in the East
  • Arms took up 20% of governement spending. Wanted to cut back military spending and improve living standards
  • Iron curtain countries had very poor industrial efficiency and needed to trade more w/ West
  • Quarelled w/ China and needed better US relations


  • Stagflation - rising inflation and economic stagnation = huge expediture and Vietnam War crippled USA economy
  • Failure in Vietnam War had dented confidence and huge peace campaign > demanded end to US military aggression abroad
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Beginnings of Detente

  • Nixon and Kissenger (secretary of state) wanted better relations with the USSR and China
  • Nixon announced the Nixon Doctrine - US sticking to treaty obligations and continue to hold a nuclear umbrella over the free world. 
  • The US expected its allies to take care of their own defence
  • 1972 - Nixon went to Moscow (1st trip to USSR by US president since 1945)
  • 1974 - Brezhnev went to Washington
  • 1972 - E and W Germany signed agreements on border - removed important source of tension and helped the Superpowers develop trade links
  • USA and China relations improved
  • 1971 - China could join the UN//US table team visited China//1972 Nixon visited
  • July 1975 - 3 US and 2 USSR astronauts docked their apollo and soyuz space craft together
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  • Strategic Arms Limitations Talks 1972
  • 5 years
  • limited the inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs) both superpowers could hold
  • each side could use spying satellites to check on the other side
  • did not reduce existing stock of weapons
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Criticisms of Detente

  • W became frustrated at abusing human rights in the E
  • In the E, dissidents (those who disagree with the gov.) were persecuted and suppressed. Many were exiled or imprisoned
  • Brezhnev cancelled the USA trying to get human rights for Soviet Jews written into the trade agreement
  • Suspicions to whether the E was holding up SALT 1
  • SALT 1 ended in 1977
  • Jimmy Carter attempted to reduce arms w/ SALT 2 
  • Carter annoyed Brezhnev by trying to link cuts in weapons with discussions on human rights
  • Agreement reached in 1979
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Soviet involvement in Afghanistan

  • Afghanistans location offered a land route between the oi rich Middle east and the Soviet Union. It became under soviet influence in 1947 although the USA gave alot of aid to the country
  • January 1979 the King of Iran was overthrown in a revoloution by fundamentalist Muslims - Anti American
  • Afghanistan had an unstable government
  • 1979 Amin seized power and named himself President - he was communist but not friendly with the S.U
  • He was opposed by major muslim groups
  • S.U feared these groups would take control of A and set up an Islamic State
  • Large muslim populations lived on the Afghan and SU border which meant Afghan uprisings could have a knock on effect to the SU
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Invading Afghanistan

  • 25th December 1979 Soviets invaded
  • Kabul airport was quickly captured
  • 350 soviet aircraft carried in troops and equipment
  • within a week 50000 soviet troops were there
  • the presidents palace was captured and Amin was killed
  • New years day 1980 a new government was set up in Kabul, led by Barack Karmal, former afghan leader who had been flown back from exile to take over the government
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Reactions around the world

  • Brezhnev announced his actions were necesary to restore order
  • he claimed they entered at the request of Afghanistan, who wanted protection
  • he claimed troops would be removed once the situation was stabilised
  • US = angry (later claimed they tricked the USSR to invading)
  • Carter saw it as a threat to world peace
  • China promised to support the Mujahiddin - afghan fighters waging a guerrilla war in the name of Islam
  • January 1980 pulled USA out of the Moscow Olympic games
  • Described the SU as an unsuitable site for a festival meaning to celebrate peace and good will
  • Advised the senates not to ratify the SALT 2 agreement
  • Sent a US navy force of 1800 marines to the Arabian Sea to protect oil routes out of the Middle West 
  • to inflict economic damage to the soviets, he cut trade between the superpowers and stopped export of 17 milllion tonnes of grain
  • stopped sales of technological goods
  • SU retaliated by accusing USA and China interference 
  • Brezhnev denounced the USA as an absooutley unreliable partner whose leadership is capable of cancelling treaties and agreements (DETENTE COLLAPSED)
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Failing to conquer Afghanistan

  • Mujahidin knew the countries geography
  • Used guerilla warfare tactics
  • Attacked Soviet Supply routes and hid in mountains
  • Spread themselves out
  • Fighting a Jihad - emotionally commited
  • People turned against soviets bombing homes
  • 9 offences launched by USSR all failed
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Second Cold War

  • Reagan President in 1981
  • referred to the SU as the evil empire
  • $178 to $365 billion in five years on arms spending
  • New weapons such as the cruise missile
  • NATO agreed 464 cms should be placed in the West
  • Neutron bomb
  • MX missile 
  • 1983 strategic defence intiative
  • Satellites orbiting the earth creating a huge laser shield to prevent nuclear missiles reaching the US
  • 1982 Strategic Arms Reduction Talks
  • Reagan demanded huge cuts in soviet nuclear capability
  • Soviets pulled out of talks
  • Soviets couldnt finance Star Wars
  • 1982 R so aggressive that the SU thought he was secretely preparing war
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Polish Solidarity

  • 1980 Polish protest movement in response to high prices and food and fuel shortages
  • Shipward workers in Gdansk went on strike led by Lech Walesa who founded solidarity - first free trade union
  • developed nationwide strikes and solidarity soon had a membership of 9 million
  • Many Poles feared soviet invasion which didnt happen as they were Afghanistan but they took out 'training manouvres' near the polish border
  • Comm polish leader Jaruzelski imposed martial law ( rule by the army )
  • 10000 political opponant , including walesa, were arrested + solidarity was declared illegal
  • 1982 Pope John Paul 2 (polish) met Reagan and discussed how they could destroy polish communism
  • reagan poured money into solidarity
  • pope encourage poles who were devout catholics to speak out about  their discontent and catholic priests worked as informants for the CIA
  • Jaruzelskis attempts to destroy Solidarity failed 
  • Walesa was put in prson by it made him more of a hero and the solidarity movement survived underground
  • November 1982 walesa was released from prison 
  • 1983 awarded a nobel peace prize
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