The United States and the Soviet Union have never been best buds. However, the 1970’s brought about a new foreign policy that both the Soviet Union and the United States could get on board with, that of détente. This policy, as described by Gregory Freeze in his book, “Russia a History,” made way for agreements on trade, arms, and human rights (445). The most significant of which were the first and second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT). The first of these paved the way for future agreements on nuclear accidents, joint space operations and more (Freeze 445).
The Soviet Union wanted to spread its influence as far as they could, and this meant keeping a close eye on countries in Asia and Africa. Places like Afghanistan, China, and South Yemen were often highlighted in news reports, as linked. After failed attempts at improving relations with China, the Soviet Union shifted its attention to South Yemen, where a 1978 revolution had produced a Marxist republic (von Geldern). Brezhnev, successor to Khrushchev, offered aid in the form of military assistance and arms shipments in an attempt to spread the Soviet Union’s influence. Unfortunately, these efforts weren’t enough to satisfy the Soviet Union, so they invaded Afghanistan on December 25th, 1979; effectively shattering the period of relaxed hostilities between them and the United States.
This invasion, according to the Seventeen Moments of Soviet History subject essay on the matter, indicates that the Soviet Union was invited in by the new Soviet-installed government leader, Babrak Karmal. Karmal had just executed the formerly soviet-friendly leader Nur Mohammad Taraki. Soviet invaders were met by the Mujahideen, an Islamic resistance force that first arose in opposition to the Afghan Communist Party. After ten years of conflict the Soviet Union finally withdrew, as seen below, but the damage to their international relations with other states had already been done.
Astrachan, Anthony. “Détente and Dissent.” The New Republic, 22 Sept. 1973, newrepublic.com/article/91476/detente-and-dissent. Accessed 19 Apr. 2018.
The Current Digest of the Russian Press, East View Information Services, dlib-eastview-com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/browse/publication/6765?searchLink=%2Fsearch%2Fsimple. Accessed 19 Apr. 2018.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd ed., New York, Oxford UP, 2009.
Von Geldern, James. “Invasion of Afghanistan.” Seventeen Moment in Soviet History, WordPress, soviethistory.msu.edu/1980-2/invasion-of-afghanistan/. Accessed 19 Apr. 2018.
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