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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


Soviet relations with Western Europe since World War II have been heavily colored by Soviet relations with Eastern Europe and by the presence of Warsaw Pact forces arrayed against NATO forces. The Soviet influence over Eastern Europe, reinforced in West European eyes by Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 and by the buildup of Soviet conventional and nuclear forces, fostered efforts in the 1980s among the West European states of NATO to bolster their defenses and discouraged closer relations between West European countries and the Soviet Union.

Since the end of World War II and the establishment of Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union has had five goals in regard to Western Europe: preventing the rearming and nuclearization of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany); preventing the political, economic, and military integration of Western Europe; obtaining West European endorsement of the territorial status quo in Europe; encouraging anti-Americanism and troubled relations with the United States; and fostering neutralism, nuclear disarmament, and the creation of nuclear weapons-free zones through the encouragement of peace groups and leftist movements. The Soviet Union has succeeded in achieving some of these goals but has been unsuccessful in achieving others.

In general, Soviet leaders have stated that the proper relationship between Western Europe and the Soviet Union should be similar to the relationship between Finland and the Soviet Union. As stated by then-Politburo member Andropov in 1978, "SovietFinnish relations today constitute a sound and stable system of enjoyment of equal rights of cooperation in the diverse areas of political, economic, and political life. This constitutes détente, as embodied in daily contacts, détente which makes peace stronger and the life of people better and calmer." More broadly, neutralism is extolled by the Soviet Union as a transitional historical model for Western and Third World states to follow in their relations with the Soviet Union, typified by nonparticipation in Western military alliances and economic organizations and by political support for anti-imperialism, capitalist disarmament, national liberation, and other foreign policies favored by the Soviet Union.

During the early to mid-1980s, Soviet leaders attempted to foster a "European détente" separate from détente with the United States. This attempt failed, however, because of the determination of West European governments to modernize NATO and deploy countervailing nuclear systems and the failure of Soviet-cultivated peace and other groups to influence West European policy.

Data as of May 1989