Office of the Historian
United States Relations with Russia: The Cold War
1945-1946: Creation of Eastern European People's Republics
Between November 1945 and December 1946, a number of the coalition governments established in the Eastern European countries occupied by Soviet troops during the war transformed into Communist "People's Republics" with strong ties to the Soviet Union. These included Yugoslavia (November 1945); Albania (January 1946); and Bulgaria (December 1946). The United States and Britain considered this an abrogation of agreements made at the Yalta Conference.
February 1946: George Kennan's Long Telegram and the Policy of Containment
On February 22, 1946, George F. Kennan, the Chargé d'Affaires at the Moscow Embassy, sent a long telegram to the Department of State detailing his concerns about Soviet expansionism. Kennan argued that the United States would never be able to cooperate successfully with the Soviets, because they saw the West as an enemy and would engage in a protracted battle to limit Western power and increase Soviet domination. Kennan argued that the United States should lead the West in "containing" the Soviets by exerting counterforce at various geographical and political points of conflict. Kennan published a public version of this argument in the July 1947 issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Kennan's articulations of the policy of containment had a major influence on American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union.
March 1946: Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech
During a speech at Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, visiting British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proclaimed that Europe was divided by an "Iron Curtain" as the nations of Eastern Europe fell increasingly under Soviet control. Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia all fell under Communist control by early 1948.
Spring 1946: Soviet Troops in Iran
Responding to Iranian requests to the United Nations, on March 5, 1946, the United States sent a note to Moscow protesting the retention of Soviet troops in Iran, where Stalin wanted to establish Soviet influence. On April 3, the Soviet Union announced that its troops would leave by May 6.
March 1947: Truman Doctrine
The Soviets aimed also to establish influence over Turkey and Greece in an effort to seek access to the Mediterranean. President Truman delivered a speech before Congress on March 12, 1947, asking for $400 million to provide assistance for Greece and Turkey in the hopes of bolstering pro-Western governments there. In this speech, he enunciated the Truman Doctrine that would serve to justify the U.S. Cold War policy of containment. This doctrine described the U.S. policy of supporting free peoples who resisted subjugation from armed minorities or outside pressures.
June 1947: U.S. Efforts to Control Atomic Energy
In June 1947, the United States submitted proposals, know as the Baruch Plan, for the creation of an International Atomic Energy Development Authority to control all phases of the development and use of atomic energy. The United States offered to destroy its atomic weapons after international control and inspection became effective. The Soviet Union rejected the proposal.
June 5, 1947: Marshall's Offer of Economic Assistance
In a speech given at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall offered U.S. assistance for the postwar economic rehabilitation of all European nations, including those that had adopted Communist governments. The Soviet Union denounced the Marshall Plan, saying it would infringe upon European sovereignty. Western European nations accepted Marshall's offer, while the Eastern European states followed Moscow's lead.
1948-1949: Berlin Airlift
In the summer of 1948, the Soviet Union cut off access to the Western sectors of Berlin, situated in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. The Western powers organized a massive airlift to supply West Berlin, and organized a counter-blockade of the Soviet zone. On May 12, 1949, the Soviets lifted their blockade.
April 1949: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
On April 14, 1949, twelve Western nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty providing for mutual support in the event of a military attack on any of the parties to the treaty and established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The original members of NATO were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
September-October 1949: Creation of the two Germanys
Recognizing that the Soviets would not honor agreements to reunite the German zones of occupation, the Western powers moved in the fall of 1949 to establish the Federal Republic of Germany out of the Western zones of occupation. The Soviets countered by supporting the creation of the German Democratic Republic in their zone. Berlin remained divided.
September 1949: Soviet Atomic Bomb
On September 22, 1949, President Truman announced that the Soviet Union had detonated its first atomic bomb.
February 1950: Sino-Soviet Treaty
Despite U.S. efforts, mainland China became a Communist People's Republic. The Soviets and the Chinese signed a Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship on February 14, 1950.
April 1950: NSC-68
In April 1950, Truman signed National Security Council Paper 68 (NSC-68) outlining U.S. justifications for a rapid and massive U.S. military build-up. NSC-68 cited Soviet consolidation of power in Eastern Europe, Soviet expansionist tendencies, and the need for the West to contain the Soviet Union as the justifications for the United States to pursue a significant buildup of its conventional military and nuclear resources.
1950-1953: Korean War
Following World War II, the United States administered the southern occupation zone in Korea, while the Soviets administered the northern zone. Plans to unify the two zones never materialized. On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. U.S.-led United Nations forces responded, and battled the North Korean and Communist Chinese armies. The Soviet Union supplied North Korea and China. On July 27, 1953, the warring parties concluded an armistice that restored the 38th parallel, but failed to unite North and South Korea.
November 1952: U.S. Hydrogen Bomb
On November 1, 1952, the United States announced it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb.
March 1953: Stalin's Death
The Soviet Union's hard-line leader, Joseph Stalin, died on March 5, 1953, and the Soviet Union entered a period of collective leadership under which a handful of leaders from within the Presidium of the Communist Party shared leadership responsibilities. First Secretary of the Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev, ultimately consolidated power and became the de facto leader of the Soviet Union.
August 1953: Soviet Hydrogen Bomb
On August 8, 1953, the Soviet Union announced it had hydrogen bomb capabilities.
August 1954: Atomic Energy Act
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Atomic Energy Act in August 1954 to authorize the international exchange of information on the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and endorsed the development of commercial nuclear power.
May 1955: Creation of the Warsaw Pact
In response to NATO actions in the West, including the rearming of West Germany and the expansion of the treaty organization, on May 1, 1955, the Soviet Union concluded a military defensive alliance known as the Warsaw Pact with Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.
May 1955: Austrian State Treaty
The United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France signed the Austrian State Treaty on May 15, 1955. This officially ended the four-power occupation of Austria and enabled the Austrians, who had pledged to remain neutral, to receive diplomatic recognition as an independent nation.
July 1955: Big Four Geneva Summit
Eisenhower met with Soviet Premier Nicolai Bulganin, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, and French Premier Edgar Faure at a summit in Geneva in July 1955. Eisenhower offered an "Open Skies" proposal, calling for a U.S.-Soviet exchange of military blueprints and mutual aerial inspection of one another's military installations. The participants also discussed disarmament, German reunification through free elections, European security, and the need for East-West cultural and scientific exchange.
February 1956: Twentieth Congress of Soviet Communist Party
At the Twentieth Party Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in February 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev publicly denounced aspects of Stalin's regime, including Stalin's harsh political purges and his "cult of personality." Khrushchev also reversed Stalinist policy by urging "the peaceful coexistence between states with differing political and social systems." This marked the beginning of a brief loosening of the most stringent forms of censorship in the Soviet Union.
June 1956: Polish Uprising
Riots against the Communist regime in Poland broke out at Poznan in June 1956, after workers demonstrated for better social and economic conditions. The revolt led the Polish Communist leadership to allow some reforms.
Autumn 1956: Suez Crisis
After the United States reneged on a deal to finance the building of the Aswan Dam, Egypt seized and nationalized the Suez Canal, through which the West received its oil supplies. This led to Israeli, British, and French military action against an Egyptian military supplied by the Soviets in the fall of 1956. While Western Europe focused on the Middle East, the Soviets moved to squash anti-communist rebellions in Poland and Hungary. Eisenhower, fearing that the Soviets would provide large-scale assistance to Egypt, convinced Britain, France, and Israel to retreat.
October-November 1956: Hungarian Uprising
Anti-Soviet popular uprisings began in Budapest and spread throughout Hungary in the autumn of 1956. On November 2, Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy, who had already promised the Hungarians free elections, denounced the Warsaw Pact and asked for United Nations support. On November 4, Soviet forces moved into Hungary and suppressed the revolt. The United States sponsored UN resolutions condemning the Soviet invasion, and called for the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops. The U.S. Government also took measures to assist the many refugees who fled Hungary following the invasion.
1957-1958: Sputnik and the Space Race
On October 5, 1957, the Soviets beat the United States into space by successfully launching the first man-made earth satellite, Sputnik I, into orbit. A month later, the Soviets sent up another satellite, this time carrying a dog. The United States did not launch its first satellite, Explorer I, until January 31, 1958. U.S. politicians warned of the dangers of Soviet superiority in technology and science, and speculated that the Soviets might possess superior missile stockpiles.
1958: Suspension of Nuclear Tests
Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko announced the suspension of Soviet nuclear weapons tests on March 31, 1958. On October 25, the United States and Great Britain agreed to suspend nuclear weapons testing for one year. Three-power talks on a more permanent ban of nuclear testing began at Geneva on October 31.
November 1958: Khrushchev's Berlin Demands
Motivated by fears that the West planned to arm West Germany with nuclear weapons, in November 1958, Khrushchev demanded the termination of the four-power occupation of Berlin. The Soviets also threatened to conclude a separate peace treaty with East Germany, giving Soviets control over access to Berlin, unless negotiations began within 6 months.
September 1959: Khrushchev Visits the United States
Following brief meetings with Eisenhower upon his arrival in Washington on September 15, 1959, Khrushchev embarked on a 10-day trip to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, farm communities in Iowa, and Pittsburgh, arranged to acquaint him with the American way of life. Eisenhower and Khrushchev then engaged in substantive talks for 2 days at Camp David. Khrushchev also visited Eisenhower's farm at Gettysburg. Just before he left, Khrushchev addressed the American people on national television. This was first visit to the United States of a Soviet leader since the establishment of U.S.-Soviet relations in 1933.
September 1959: Khrushchev-Eisenhower Meeting at Camp David
Khrushchev met with President Eisenhower at Camp David, on September 26-27, 1959. The two leaders agreed to expand exchanges and to remove the Soviet deadline for a Berlin settlement, but no progress was made on disarmament or the reunification of Germany. They agreed to meet again at a four-power summit in Paris in May 1960.
December 1959: Antarctic Treaty
On December 1, the United States, the Soviet Union, and ten other countries signed a treaty to internationalize and demilitarize the Antarctic continent.
May 1960: The U-2 Incident
On May 1, 1960, the Soviets shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance jet flying over Soviet territory. Since June 1956, Eisenhower had approved secret overflights of Soviet territory, and gained valuable proof that the Soviets had not gained missile superiority over the Americans. Not knowing that the Soviets had captured the pilot and gotten a confession confirming the spy mission, Eisenhower claimed the aircraft was merely a weather plane. Khrushchev presented the pilot as proof that the American President had lied.
May 1960: Paris Summit
Eisenhower, Khrushchev, British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, and French President Charles de Gaulle met from May 16-17, 1960, in Paris. However, the meetings collapsed when Khrushchev walked out after Eisenhower refused to apologize for the U-2 incident.
May 1960: United States Unveils "Great Seal Bug" at the United Nations
On May 26, 1960, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. unveiled the Great Seal Bug before the UN Security Council to counter Soviet denunciations of American U-2 espionage. The Soviets had presented a replica of the Great Seal of the United States as a gift to Ambassador Averell Harriman in 1946. The gift hung in the U.S. Embassy for many years, until in 1952, during George F. Kennan's ambassadorship, U.S. security personnel discovered the listening device embedded inside the Great Seal. Lodge's unveiling of this Great Seal before the Security Council in 1960 provided proof that the Soviets also spied on the Americans, and undercut a Soviet resolution before the Security Council denouncing the United States for its U-2 espionage missions.
June 1961: Vienna Meeting
President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev met in Vienna in June 1961, primarily to discuss the status of Berlin. Other topics of discussion included the conflict in Laos and disarmament. The leaders were unable to resolve the most vexing questions pertaining to Berlin, but agreed that further discussions on Laos should be continued at the Foreign Minister level.
Summer 1961: Berlin Crisis
In July 1961, the Soviets threatened to take decisive action on Berlin. Kennedy warned that the United States would not tolerate any changes in Berlin's status. He activated 150,000 reservists, and advised the American people of the danger of an attack, possibly even a nuclear attack. Both leaders announced an increase in their defense expenditures. East Germans fled in large numbers to West Germany. On August 13, Khrushchev sealed off East Berlin from the West by erecting the Berlin Wall on Soviet-controlled territory.
October 18-29, 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis
After receiving intelligence that the Soviet Union was placing medium-range ballistic nuclear missiles in Cuba, on October 14, 1962, President Kennedy announced a naval quarantine of Cuba to block further Soviet missile deliveries, and demanded the removal or dismantling of the missiles already in Cuba. On October 28, Khrushchev agreed to stop work on the Cuban missile sites and to remove the missiles that were already in place. In return, the United States pledged not to follow through on its threat to invade Cuba.
June 1963: Establishment of the "Hotline"
The United States and the Soviet Union signed a memorandum of understanding in Geneva in June 1963 to establish a direct communications link, or "hotline," between the two governments for use in a crisis.
August 1963: Limited Test Ban Treaty
In August 1963, the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty outlawing nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater.
October 1964: Fall of Khrushchev
Communist Party bureaucrats forced Khrushchev from power on October 14, 1964. Alexei Kosygin became Premier, and Leonid Brezhnev became First Secretary of the Communist Party.
March 1965: U.S. Troops to Vietnam
In March 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson committed the first U.S. combat ground troops to Vietnam to aid the South Vietnamese Government in its war against Soviet-assisted North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces.
January 1967: Treaty on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on January 27, 1967. This agreement banned weapons of mass destruction from orbiting satellites, celestial bodies, or outer space.
June 1967: Johnson and Kosygin Meeting
Following Kosygin's visit to the United Nations, where he supported the Arab nations' proposals for ending the Middle East conflict in the aftermath of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Johnson met with him in Glassboro, New Jersey that same month. The leaders discussed the Middle East, disarmament, and the Vietnam War. During the conference, the Soviet Union served as intermediary in conveying North Vietnamese willingness to negotiate in exchange for a halt to the U.S. bombing.
July 1968: Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
On July 1, 1968, sixty-two nations, including the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and encourage the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
August 1968: Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia
Soviet, Polish, East German, Bulgarian, and Hungarian troops invaded Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968, and deposed the reformist government of Alexander Dubcek, who had begun a program of economic and political liberalization (the "Prague spring"). The United States co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution condemning the invasion and calling for the prompt withdrawal of Warsaw Pact forces; it also suspended a number of U.S.-Soviet exchange agreements and delayed ratification of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Brezhnev later justified the invasion with the assertion, known as the Brezhnev Doctrine, that when internal or external forces hostile to socialism sought to restore the capitalist order in any socialist state, all other socialist states had the right to intervene.
November 1969: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
The United States and the Soviet Union held preliminary Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in Helsinki on November 17, 1969. Formal SALT negotiations began in Vienna on April 16, 1970.
September-October 1969: Soviet Submarine Base in Cuba
In the fall of 1969, the United States protested the arrival of a Soviet flotilla and the construction of a Soviet submarine base at Cayo Alcatraz in the Bay of Cienfuegos, Cuba. After several diplomatic exchanges, Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin reaffirmed the 1962 understanding that Soviet offensive weapons would not be stationed in Cuba.
February 1971: Nuclear Weapons Ban on Seabed
Sixty-three nations signed a treaty banning emplacement of nuclear weapons on the seabed in February 1971. The United States and the Soviet Union had presented a draft of the treaty to the UN Committee on Disarmament in Geneva on October 7, 1969.
September 1971: Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin
The United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain signed the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin on September 3, 1971. They agreed to improvements in the Berlin situation, including unhindered movement of people and goods between the Western Sectors of Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany.
September 1971: Agreement to Reduce Risk of Nuclear War
The United States and the Soviet Union signed an Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Risk of Outbreak of Nuclear War on September 30, 1971. It provided for nuclear safeguards, immediate notification of an unexplained nuclear detonation, and advance notice of missile launches. They also agreed to improve the hotline.
May 1972: Moscow Summit
President Richard M. Nixon, the first U.S. President to travel to Moscow, met with Brezhnev on May 22-30, 1972. The leaders signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) Interim Agreement, both of which had been in negotiation in Helsinki and Vienna for many months. Nixon and Brezhnev also concluded agreements on public health; environmental cooperation; incidents at sea; exchanges in science, technology, education and culture; and a Declaration of Basic Principles of Mutual Relations.
June 1973: Brezhnev-Nixon Meeting in the United States
Brezhnev's visit to the United States resulted in 47 hours of meetings with Nixon in Washington, Camp David, and San Clemente from June 18-24, 1973. The two leaders signed nine accords, including an Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War and an Agreement on Basic Principles of Negotiations on the Further Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. Other agreements signed at the summit dealt with scientific cooperation, agriculture, trade, and other bilateral issues. The joint communiqué expressed "deep satisfaction" with the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on Vietnam, which had been signed the preceding January.
October 1973: Force Reduction Meeting in Vienna
The United States, the Soviet Union, and other NATO and Warsaw Pact nations met in Vienna in October 1973 to begin Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) negotiations to reduce conventional forces in Europe to equal and lower levels.
June-July 1974: Moscow Summit
The Watergate scandal and the President Nixon's imminent resignation overshadowed the Moscow Summit meeting in June and July, 1974, and limited expectations on both sides. Nixon and Brezhnev discussed arms control and several international and bilateral issues. They signed a protocol limiting each side to one ABM site apiece, instead of the two allowed in the 1972 ABM Treaty, and a Threshold Test Ban Treaty that limited the size of underground nuclear weapons tests. The United States never ratified the Test Ban Treaty because of concerns about its verifiability. The governments signed several other instruments addressing scientific cooperation, cultural exchanges, and other bilateral matters. Nixon and Brezhnev also agreed to explore the possibility of a 10-year time period for a SALT treaty, which opened the way for the Vladivostok accord a few months later. The communiqué reaffirmed an agreement to hold regular meetings.
November 1974: Vladivostok Meeting
Discussions between President Gerald R. Ford and Brezhnev on November 23 and 24, 1974, focused on strategic arms limitations as well as on a number of bilateral and international issues, including the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and the Middle East. Ford and Brezhnev issued a joint statement on strategic offensive arms (the Vladivostok Agreement) and a joint communiqué calling for continuing efforts at arms limitation and the development of economic cooperation. The Vladivostok accord provided some of the basic elements of the SALT II Treaty.
December 1974: Jackson-Vanik Amendment
The U.S. Congress passed the Jackson‑Vanik Amendment to the Trade Reform Act, in December 1974. This made granting the Soviet Union non-discriminatory trade status contingent upon liberalized emigration.
July 1975: Apollo-Soyuz Mission
The United States and the Soviet Union conducted the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a joint space effort culminating with a linking of the two crafts, in July 1975.
July-August 1975: Helsinki CSCE Meetings
In July and August 1975, during two sessions in Helsinki, immediately prior to and following the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Ford and Brezhnev attempted unsuccessfully to reach further agreement on strategic arms limitation. Differences between the two governments over cruise missiles and the Soviet Backfire bomber frustrated Ford's desires to strengthen cooperation between the two superpowers and to conclude a SALT II agreement. Ford and Brezhnev held discussions on other issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict and the relationship between Soviet emigration policy and most-favored-nation trading status.
June 1979: SALT II Agreements
President Jimmy Carter and Brezhnev signed the SALT II Treaty at a summit in Vienna in June 1979. Carter and Brezhnev also discussed other arms control questions, including the continuation of the SALT process. They had wide‑ranging exchanges on human rights and trade, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa, China, and other regional issues. The two leaders also issued a joint statement of principles and basic guidelines for subsequent negotiations on the limitation of strategic arms. The United States never ratified the SALT II Treaty.
June 1979: New Moscow Embassy
After several years of negotiations, the United States and the Soviet Union contracted for a new U.S. Embassy complex in Moscow in June 1979.
December 1979: NATO Action Against Soviet SS-20 Deployments
On December 20, 1979, NATO unanimously adopted a dual track strategy to counter Soviet SS-20 missile deployments, which became operational in 1977. The strategy called for arms negotiations with the Soviet Union to restore the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) balance at the lowest possible level, and the modernization of NATO INF forces through the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles and Pershing IIs beginning in December 1983.
December 1979: Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 26, 1979. The United States immediately condemned the action, and President Carter asked the Senate to delay consideration of SALT II. Washington's responses to the invasion included deferral of most cultural and economic exchanges, cancellation of export licenses for high technology items, restriction of Soviet fishing rights in U.S. waters, suspension of grain exports, and a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
May 1980: Gromyko-Muskie Meeting Geneva
After 8 months of no high level U.S.-Soviet contact, Secretary of State Edmund Muskie and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko met briefly in Geneva in May 1980.
July-August 1980: Olympic Boycott
The United States and 63 other nations boycotted the XXII Olympics, which were held in Moscow in the summer of 1980.
September 1980: Talks on Medium Range Missiles
Muskie and Gromyko met in New York on September 25, 1980. They agreed to begin preliminary talks on medium range missiles, and affirmed their neutrality in the Iran-Iraq War.
April 1981: Lifting of Embargo
In April 1981, President Ronald Reagan announced the lifting of the embargo on exports of grain to the Soviet Union imposed on February 7, 1980.
November 1981: Strategic Arms Reduction Proposal
On November 18, 1981, President Reagan proposed renewed arms control negotiations focusing on major reductions in all types of arms, to be called Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START). He called for bilateral talks between the United States and the Soviet Union on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces. Reagan announced his Zero-Zero proposal under which the United States and NATO would cancel deployment of Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in Western Europe if the Soviets would dismantle its SS-20, SS-4, and SS-5 missiles.
November 1981: Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Negotiations
Intermediate Range Nuclear Force (INF) negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union began in Geneva on November 30, 1981. The United States formally presented its Zero-Zero proposal.
December 1981: Martial Law in Poland
Authorities declared martial law in Poland on December 13, 1981. On December 29, the United States issued sanctions against the Polish Government and the Soviet Union for the imposition of martial law. When Secretary of State Alexander Haig met Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko in Geneva the following month, Gromyko refused to discuss the Polish situation.
February-March 1982: Arms Reductions Refused by United States
In early 1982, Brezhnev proposed a two-thirds cut in U.S. and Soviet medium-range nuclear weapons arsenals in Europe by 1990. The United States officially rejected the plan on February 10. On March 16, Brezhnev announced that the Soviet Union was suspending deployment of new nuclear weapons in Russia, and threatened retaliation if the United States installed new medium-range missiles in Western Europe.
October 1982: Grain Embargo Lifted
At bilateral talks in Vienna in October 1982, the United States announced that it would sell 23 metric tons of grain to the Soviet Union.
November 1982: Brezhnev's Funeral
Brezhnev died on November 10, 1982. Vice President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State George Shultz led a U.S. delegation to Moscow for Brezhnev's funeral on November 15, and met briefly with new Soviet leader Yuri Andropov.
January 1983: Reagan's Open Letter to Europe
While in Berlin in January, 1983, Vice President Bush read an "open letter" to Europe from President Reagan, in which Reagan proposed to Andropov "that he and I meet wherever and whenever he wants in order to sign an agreement banning U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range land-based nuclear missile weapons from the face of the earth."
March 1983: Announcement of Strategic Defense Initiative
In a national address on March 23, 1983, President Reagan announced his intention to commit the United States to a research program called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to study the feasibility of defensive measures against nuclear missiles. Its stated purpose was to maintain the peace rather than rely solely on the threat of retaliation and the fear of mutual destruction.
March 1983: INF Talks
On March 29, 1983, the United States proposed an Interim Agreement whereby NATO would reduce its planned deployment of longer-range INF (LRINF) missiles to a level between zero and 572, if the Soviets cut their worldwide deployment of LRINF missiles to an equal level. The U.S. delegation presented a draft treaty embodying this proposal on May 19.
April 1983: Lifting of Grain Negotiations Ban
On April 22, 1983, President Reagan ended the ban on negotiations regarding Soviet long-term purchases of U.S. grain.
September 1983: Downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007
The Soviet Union shot down a commercial airliner, Korean Airlines Flight 007, on September 1, 1983, after it strayed into Soviet airspace. This unfortunate incident was part of discussions between U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko at their meetings at the Madrid Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe seven days later.
September 1983: INF Talks
At the INF talks in September 1983, the United States submitted three new elements to its proposed interim agreement, in which it (1) would not offset all Soviet global LRINF deployments with U.S. deployments in Europe (it would retain the right, however, to deploy elsewhere to reach an equal global ceiling); (2) would be prepared to apportion the reductions of Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in an appropriate manner; and (3) would consider proposals involving land-based aircraft.
October 1983: START Talks
In October 1983, President Reagan announced that at the START negotiations, the United States would propose a mutual guaranteed build-down of strategic weapons, whereby older weapons would be reduced as newer ones were deployed.
November 1983: Breakdown of INF Talks
On November 15, 1983, the United States proposed that the two sides agree to an equal global ceiling of 420 LRINF warheads, although it continued to express a preference for the elimination of such missiles. However, the Soviets left the talks on November 23, in response to the initiation of U.S. LRINF deployments in Western Europe; the United States offered to resume the talks whenever the Soviets wished to return.
December 1983: Breakdown of START Negotiations
The Soviet Union declined to agree to a resumption date for the START negotiations following the completion of the fifth round of talks in December 1983.
February 1984: Death of Soviet Leader
General Secretary Andropov died on February 9, 1984. Politburo member Konstantin Chernenko succeeded him.
March 1984: U.S.S. Kitty Hawk Incident
The U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk collided with a Soviet nuclear powered submarine in the Sea of Japan on March 21, 1984, causing minor damage. The United States charged that the submarine violated the 1972 U.S.-Soviet agreement on naval maneuvers.
May 1984: Soviet Olympic Boycott
In May the Soviet Union announced that it would not participate in the 1984 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, alleging poor U.S. security arrangements.
July 1984: Improvements to the Hotline
The United States and the Soviet Union initialed a diplomatic note in Washington on July 17, 1984, agreeing to make technical improvements to the 21-year-old Direct Communications Link, or "hotline," between Washington and Moscow.
September 1984: Proposal for Future Arms Control Talks
At the United Nations, Reagan proposed a broad "umbrella" framework for talks between the United States and the Soviet Union on arms control issues. This framework would cover: a ban on chemical weapons, real force reductions at the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) talks, measures to enhance mutual confidence at the Conference on Confidence and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe (CDE), improvements in verification, close cooperation to strengthen international institutions and practices for nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, and a substantial reduction in U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals. On September 28, President Reagan and Foreign Minister Gromyko met at the White House to discuss arms control issues.
January 1985: Geneva Meeting
Secretary of State Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko met in Geneva in January 1985 to set an agenda for comprehensive arms control negotiations. In a joint U.S.-Soviet statement, they announced an agreement to hold new negotiations to consider strategic nuclear arms, INF, and space issues.
March 1985: Death of Chernenko
Following the death of General Secretary Konstantin Chernenko on March 10, 1985, Politburo member Mikhail Gorbachev became the new General Secretary of the Soviet Union. Andrei Gromyko became President.
March 1985: Arms Negotiations Resumed
In Geneva, the United States and the Soviet Union began negotiations on space and nuclear arms in March 1985. The United States sought to reduce the number of offensive strategic arms, eliminate or reduce LRINF, and reverse the erosion of the 1972 ABM Treaty. The United States also wanted to discuss the idea that both sides should move away from deterrence based solely on the threat of massive nuclear retaliation, and towards increased reliance on non-threatening defenses.
May 1985: New Bilateral Trade Agreements
The United States and the Soviet Union announced new bilateral trade agreements and a U.S.-Soviet maritime pact in May 1985.
November 1985: Geneva Summit
In a summit in Geneva in November 1985, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev discussed a four-part agenda that focused on: human rights, regional issues, bilateral matters, and arms control. The President pressed for improvement in Soviet human rights practices, the removal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, and the resolution of regional conflicts in a number of countries, including Cambodia, Angola, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua. In the arms control area, both leaders called for early progress on reductions in strategic, offensive nuclear forces. Following discussions on strategic defense, they agreed to study the establishment of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers, and to accelerate efforts to conclude an effective and verifiable treaty banning chemical weapons. They endorsed regular exchanges between senior U.S. and Soviet officials. Gorbachev accepted Reagan's invitation to visit the United States in 1986, and Reagan agreed to visit the Soviet Union the following year. At the end of the meeting, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the General Agreement on Contacts, Exchanges, and Cooperation in Scientific, Technical, Educational, Cultural, and Other Fields, and announced that the two countries would resume civil air service.
December 1985: Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction Proposal
The United States and its NATO Allies presented a new proposal at the MBFR talks in Vienna in December 1985, offering to negotiate a joint reduction in U.S.-Soviet force levels in Central Europe and a subsequent 3-year "collective no-increase commitment" on Eastern and Western forces.
January 1986: Televised Greetings
President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev exchanged New Year's greetings to the peoples of the Soviet Union and the United States in two televised 5-minute statements in January 1986.
March 1986: Nuclear Test Moratorium Proposed
Gorbachev announced in March 1986 that the Soviet Union would continue its nuclear test moratorium if the United States also refrained from staging tests. Reagan rejected the moratorium on March 14, and announced a detailed proposal for improving nuclear test verification. The Soviet Union rejected the U.S. proposal.
April 1986: Chernobyl Disaster
On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, 60 miles north of Kiev, led to the worst nuclear accident in history. U.S. medical personnel provided assistance to the victims.
April 1986: Commercial Flights Resumed
The United States resumed commercial flights between the United States and the Soviet Union in April 1986. These flights had been halted in 1978.
May 1986: Nuclear Risk Reduction
U.S. and Soviet negotiators met in Geneva on May 5-6, 1986, to discuss establishing "Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers" in Washington and Moscow to lessen the chance of misunderstandings that could lead to accidental nuclear war. They agreed to meet again on August 24-25.
October 1986: Reykjavik Summit
President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev met on October 11-12, 1986, in Reykjavik, to continue their discussions on the four points outlined at Geneva in November: human rights, regional conflicts, bilateral cooperation, and arms control. The two reached several arms control agreements in principle, including a formula for 50 percent reductions in strategic nuclear offensive forces; a reduction to a 100 warhead global ceiling for longer range INF missiles, with no such missiles in Europe; and constraints on shorter-range INF missile systems. However, their meeting ended without an accord, in part because Gorbachev insisted that further progress on INF and START be linked to restrictions on the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative.
October 1986: START Proposal
In October 1986, the United States presented a new START proposal that incorporated the agreements reached at Reykjavik.
1987: Nuclear and Space Talks
Round VI of the Nuclear and Space Talks in Geneva began on January 15, 1987. The United States proposed drafts on INF forces and Defense and Space, which included the right to withdraw from the ABM Treaty for reasons of supreme national interest. On February 28, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union was prepared to sign an agreement to eliminate Soviet and U.S. INF missiles in Europe within 5 years. On March 3, Reagan instructed U.S. negotiators in Geneva to present a U.S. draft INF treaty.
April 1987: Discovery of Electronic Listening Devices at U.S. Embassy
Reagan administration officials reported that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had been penetrated by electronic listening devices and would no longer transmit sensitive messages from Embassy facilities. On April 8, 1987, Reagan ordered the Intelligence Review Board to assess the extent of Soviet bugging in the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow to determine whether it should be destroyed or rebuilt.
May 1987: Agreement on Nuclear Risk Reduction
On May 4, 1987, U.S. and Soviet negotiators in Geneva reached an agreement on a draft joint text to establish Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in Washington and Moscow.
May 1987: Draft START Treaty
On May 8, 1987, the United States presented a draft START treaty in Geneva that proposed the reduction of U.S. and Soviet strategic nuclear arms by 50 percent.
July 1987: Soviet Draft Treaty
In response to the U.S. draft treaty presented on May 8, in July 1987, the Soviet Union presented a detailed draft treaty to reduce strategic nuclear arms. The Soviet proposal differed from that of the United States on several points, including no specific limits on warheads.
December 1987: Washington Summit
President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev met in Washington in December, 1987, to continue discussions on the ongoing four-part U.S.-Soviet agenda begun at Geneva in 1985. The U.S. and Soviet leaders discussed human rights, increasing bilateral exchanges, cooperation on environmental matters, and trade expansion. They held wide-ranging talks on regional issues including Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq War, Central America, southern Africa, the Middle East, and Cambodia.
The two leaders signed the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. They instructed their negotiators at the Geneva Nuclear and Space Talks to intensify efforts to complete a Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms to implement the principle of a 50 percent reduction in these arms, which had been agreed upon at the Reykjavik meeting. The leaders also instructed their negotiators to work out a new and separate treaty on defense and space issues that would commit both sides to observe the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, as signed in 1972.
December 1987: Gorbachev, Man of Year
Time Magazine selected Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as "The Man of the Year" for 1987.
May-June 1988: Moscow Summit
The Moscow Summit in May-June 1988 saw wide-ranging discussion between Reagan and Gorbachev of regional questions, including the Middle East, the Iran-Iraq War, southern Africa, the Horn of Africa, Central America, Cambodia, the Korean Peninsula, and Afghanistan, as well as other issues. The two leaders exchanged and signed ratification documents on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which the Supreme Soviet and the U.S. Senate had approved on May 23 and 27, respectively. The two leaders also discussed nuclear nonproliferation; the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers established in Moscow and Washington; the status of ongoing negotiations toward a comprehensive, effectively verifiable, and truly global ban on chemical weapons; and the status of conventional forces negotiations.
Secretary Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze also concluded separate agreements, two of them related to arms control: the agreement on Advanced Notification of Strategic Ballistic Missile Launches and the Joint Verification Experiment agreement on nuclear testing. The seven other agreements covered a range of issues, such as expansion of U.S.-Soviet cultural and educational exchanges, U.S.-Soviet cooperation on peaceful uses of atomic power and on space exploration, maritime search and rescue, fisheries, transportation technology, and radio navigation.
June 1988: Communist Party of the Soviet Union's XIXth Party Conference
General Secretary of the Communist Party Gorbachev announced major political reforms for the Soviet Union in June 1988, at the Party's XIXth Party Conference. These included introducing a new executive president and a new legislative element to be called the Congress of People's Deputies. In instituting these reforms, Gorbachev aimed to reduce party control of the government.
December 1988: New York Meeting
President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev met on Governor's Island in New York harbor in December 1988, while the Soviet leader was visiting New York City to address the United Nations General Assembly.
March 1989: Vienna Meeting
Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, meeting in Vienna in March 1989, discussed human rights, arms control, and regional conflicts. Secretary Baker expressed hope for the success of Soviet reforms.
March 15, 1989: Gorbachev Elected President
The Soviet people elected Mikhail Gorbachev to be President under the new political system on March 15, 1989.
May 1989: Secretary Baker's Visit to Moscow
During Secretary Baker's visit to Moscow in May 1989, U.S. and Soviet officials discussed regional problems (Central America, Afghanistan, and the Middle East), human rights, bilateral matters, and transnational questions. They agreed on dates for resuming bilateral arms talks.
May 1989: President Bush's Speech on the Soviet Union
In a public address on May 12, 1989, President George H.W. Bush reaffirmed the U.S. desire for Soviet economic reform to succeed, and said that the United States sought the integration of the Soviet Union into the community of nations. He proposed regular surveillance flights over NATO and Warsaw Pact territories (Open Skies) and offered improved trade relations if the Soviet Union relaxed its emigration laws.
June 1989: U.S.-Soviet Military Agreement
In Moscow in June 1989, the United States and the Soviet Union signed an agreement designed to prevent dangerous military activities.
September 1989: Baker and Shevardnadze Meeting
Secretary Baker and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze met in Wyoming in September 1989. They released a detailed joint statement covering the full U.S.-Soviet agenda and signed several agreements on arms control verification and notification procedures. They signed several bilateral agreements concerning land and sea passage between the United States and the Soviet Union.
June-November 1989: Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe
Shortly after Poland's electorate voted the Communists out of government in June 1989, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would not interfere with the internal affairs of the Eastern European countries. By October, Hungary and Czechoslovakia followed Poland's example, and, on November 9, the East German Government opened the Berlin Wall.
December 1989: U.S. and Soviet Leaders Met at Malta
During a shipboard summit meeting near Valletta, Malta, in December 1989, Presidents Bush and Gorbachev set a series of priorities to guide preparations for the next summit. They agreed to seek an accelerated conclusion to nuclear and conventional arms agreements, and discussed economic and commercial relations and regional conflicts. President Bush offered ideas for technical cooperation, and proposed negotiating a trade agreement that would lift the Jackson-Vanik restriction on most-favored-nation status for the Soviet Union, provided the Soviet Government enacted a new law on emigration. They announced that a full summit would take place in the United States in June 1990.