Soviet Union Table of Contents
Beginning in the mid-1960s, the Soviet Union cultivated a "privileged" relationship with France. The high point of SovietFrench relations occurred during the administration of President Charles de Gaulle (1959-69). Following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, Soviet-French relations cooled, although state visits continued. During the leadership of President François Mitterand, first elected as part of a coalition government in May 1981, France pursued several policies objectionable to the Soviet Union, such as selling arms to China, militarily opposing Libya's invasion of Chad, working with West Germany to strengthen West European defense, and expelling a large number of Soviet diplomats and other personnel involved in technology theft and other forms of espionage. Gorbachev's first state visit as general secretary was to France in October 1985. The visit provided a public display of the Soviet Union's interest in maintaining a special relationship with France and also served as an attempt to exacerbate intra-European rivalries. Nevertheless, the general trend of French foreign policy in the late 1980s toward greater cooperation with NATO frustrated Soviet efforts to maintain a privileged relationship. France's refusal in 1986 and 1987 to discuss a freeze or a reduction of the French nuclear forces (force de frappe, or force de dissuasion) further strained Soviet-French relations.
Data as of May 1989