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Why did the relationship between the USA and USSR change between 1975 and 1990

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Introduction

Why did the relationship between the USA and USSR change between 1975 and 1990? From 1975 to 1990 US Russian relations got better and worse as different leaders led the two nations. The relations changed due to events and stances brought on by the leaders of the Superpowers. From the early 1970's relations between the USA and Russia continued to get better and better. In 1970 the two superpowers began Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT 1) to try and bring an end to the nuclear arms race; by 1972 the countries had signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Interim Agreement which limited their production of certain nuclear arms. This was seen as a great step to towards the end of the cold war and proved that that USSR and USA were capable of working together. Following SALT 1 a new round of negotiations was needed as SALT 1 only covered a five year period; these talks were to be SALT 2. In early 1975 American astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts met up and shook hands in Space. This was quite literally the high point in detente, showing the world that the two nations were working together. In August 1975, 35 countries met in Helsinki and agreed that the frontiers of post 1945 Europe should be permanent. ...read more.

Middle

This helped to bring the right wing, anti-soviet President Ronald Reagan to power in 1981. Regan had the support of several Western European Leaders, such as Margret Thatcher, in taking a firm stance with the Russians. Straight away Reagan offered the 'Evil Empire' 'Zero option', dismantling and removing weapons from Europe. Brezhnev refused. In 1982 Strategic Arms Reduction Talks took place aiming to limit number of ICBM's in Europe. By 1983, nothing had been achieved and talks closed. This proved that the nations were no longer willing to co-operate and relations had progressively got worse since 1975 Reagan went NUTS! Regan's most radical plan was to end the arms race by escalating it to such a level the USSR could not keep up. The defence programme included 100 MX missiles, 100 B-1 long-range & supersonic bombers, construction of a new Stealth bomber that was impossible to detect by radar, new Trident nuclear submarines & development of the neutron bomb. Defence spending increased by nearly 50% during Reagan's first term of office. Reagan brought in a programme of Nuclear Utilization Target Selection (NUTS) which would bring an end to the period of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) leaving the USA dominant over the USSR. He proposed a Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI or Star Wars) that would shield the USA from nuclear missiles using a laser system based on the ground and in space. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was a crucial point in the demise of the USSR; Gorbachev would not intervene and stop the Eastern Bloc from reforming or turning to capitalism. The world at this point knew the Cold War was coming to an end and the world started to relax. In 1989 President Regan retired and Gorge Bush took over. His first meeting with Gorbachev was in Malta, December 1989. Bush and Gorbachev drew up proposals to reduce strategic nuclear weapons, reduce conventional forces in Europe and declare the Cold War over. In 1991 Gorbachev and Bush finally sign the Strategic Arms Reductions Talks Agreement. After nine years the two superpowers agreed to destroy a third of their nuclear weapons and declare the Cold War over. In conclusion, the relations between the two superpowers fluctuated due to the stance of their Leaders. Brezhnev was a hard liner and was determined to spread communism and would never give up communist goals. That is why the US got nowhere with him, they could meet with him and he would promise things and maybe appease the US by doing small things but would never give up his goals. Almost contrasting to this was Gorbachev who realised that the USSR and communism needed to modernise however this all came far too late. The people were angry and wanted drastic change there was no saving communism. ...read more.

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