The end of the Cold War
In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to try to prop up the communist government there, which was being attacked by Muslim Mujaheddin fighters. This immediately caused a rift with America, which boycotted the 1980 Olympics.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan became president of the USA. As a strong anti-communist, he called the Soviet Union the "evil empire" and increased spending on arms. The US military developed the neutron bomb, cruise missiles and a Star Wars defence system using space satellites.
By 1985, the Soviet Union was in trouble. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the USSR.
- He withdrew from Afghanistan.
- He realised that the USSR could not afford the arms race, and opened the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) with the USA. He signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987.