From Washington to Moscow: US-Soviet Relations and the Collapse of the USSR
Louis Sell is a retired Foreign Service officer who served twentyseven years with the US Department of State, specializing in Soviet and Balkan affairs. He is the author of Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, also published by Duke University Press.
“I Guess I Should Say Michael”: The Turn in US-Soviet Relations
US-Soviet relations stagnated after the 1985 Geneva summit because of Gorbachev’s preoccupation with domestic developments such as Chernobyl and because of events in the murky world of US-Soviet espionage. At Reykjavik an unprecedented agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons fell through at the last minute when Gorbachev demanded strict limits on SDI. Drawing from official records of both sides, the author reveals how the abortive Reykjavik deal included elimination of nuclear bombers, where the US had a substantial advantage, and not just ballistic missiles, as US officials said at the time. Criticized as a failure, Reykjavik set the stage for later US-Soviet arms agreements. Gorbachev purged the Soviet military and at the December 1987 Washington summit the INF treaty was signed—the first to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons. The May 1988 Moscow summit, Reagan’s first visit to the USSR, saw considerable progress in bilateral human rights issues, some of which the author describes from his own involvement.