The international situation inherited by Gorbachev was as unpromising as the domestic scene which faced him when he came to power. Neither of his two immediate predecessors had been able to resolve the stalemate which had followed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Détente seemed irredeemably damaged and arms control no more attainable than when the Soviet delegation had walked out of the Geneva negotiations in December 1983. Although new talks were due to begin on 12 March, they had been preceded by strident accusations from the US President and the Secretary of Defense that the Soviet Union had habitually transgressed previous agreements and alarming indications that Reagan was committed to negotiating from a position of strength (the very term had long been anathema to successive Soviet leaders). The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was very firmly on the US agenda. If there had been serious hopes that Western Europe and the USA would become uncoupled, there was very little evidence to suggest that this had or was likely to occur. Pressure from the European peace movement on the governments of Western Europe had abated since the deployment of Pershing II and Cruise missiles (on Soviet defence and security, see Chapter 10). The intractable problem of sovereignty over the Kurile Islands continued to bedevil Soviet-Japanese relations.1
KeywordsForeign Policy Central Committee Foreign Minister International Situation Deputy Minister
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