Paper 1 Theme 1: Gorbachev and his policies Flashcards Preview

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Gorbachev and "New Thinking"

Compared to the previous leaders, he was only 54 when he became General Secretary of the CPSU. He emphasised the need to promote competent and younger officials.
Gorbachev's foreign policy, the 'New Thinking" He wanted to secure peaceful-coexistence with the world so he can carry out far-reaching domestic reforms. The main feature of "New Thinking" was the belief that Soviet security can be safeguarded primarily through cooperation and negotiation and detente can be attained by reason and political persuasion, not military might.
The "New Thinking" had 4 key features:
1. Complete military equality between the 2 Sps and advocated arms reduction and de-militarisation.
2. Use of the UN as the main instrument for resolving conflicts
3. Renunciation of the Brezhnev Doctrine
4. Reduction of Soviet Affairs in the Third World


Geneva Summit

November 1985
Gorbachev offered deep cuts in ICBMs in exchange for the stopping of development of the SDI but Reagan refused. Gorbachev also suggested a 50% cut in nuclear weapons that could reach the homeland of the other side. (additional info in pic)


Arms reduction programme proposed by Gorbachev

January 1986
Stage 1 (1986-1991): Reduce its long-range missiles by 52%. All SS-20s and Pershing IIs in Europe were to be eliminated.
Stage 2(1990-1995): Both sides to reduce medium range and tactical weapons to zero. Both were to remove all nuclear weapons from Europe. All nuclear powers to stop nuclear testing.
Stage 3(1995-1999): Elmination of all remaning nuclear weapons


Zero option

a disarmament proposal for the total removal of certain types of weapons on both sides.


Reykjavik Summit

October 1986
Both leaders agreed to reduce their strategic weapons during the next 5 years by 50%. Reagan suggested the elimination of all ballistic missiles within 10years


Soviet Initiative

April 1987, Gorbachev offered to remove 142 shorter-range missiles provided the US removed 72 Pershing 1-A shorter range missiles. (USSR willing to remove more)
14 September 1987, US presennted double-zero option. Both sides were to scrapte their INF(intermediate-range nuclear forces) in Europe.


INF Treaty

8 December 1987
Both Superpowers agreed to destroy all intermediate-range nuclear missiles over 3 years. They also agreed for the monitoring of the destruction of missiles in more than 100sites in the USSR and 30sites in Europe and USA. With this, an entire class of weapons was destroyed. This also signalled Gorbachev determination to end the nuclear arms race.


Moscow Summit

June 1988
Agreed to notify each other of ballistic missile tests. Both sides also discussed issues relating to regional conflicts in Central and South America and in Afghanistan.


Malta Summit

December 1989
Gorbachev met George H.W Bush, agreeing to cut the combined nuclear warheads of each country from 12,000 to 9,000.


Washington Summit

June 1990
Both sides agreed to a 30% cut in their nuclear arsenal to 6,000 warheads for each country.


Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)

July 1991
Agreed to limit deployed warheads by imposing limits on delivery vehicles and the destruction of excess vehicle. Verification of the Treaty was done through on-site inspections, regular exchanges of information and the use of satellites.


Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

November 1990
Signed by Bush, Gorbachev and other members of the NATO and Warsaw Pact. This sought to reduce the number of tanks, artillery, combat aircrafts and helicopters deployed in Europe.


UN speech

7 December 1988
Gorbachev expounded the desire of the USSR to pursue a policy aimed at solving political problems by "political means", and "human problems" in a "humane way". This speech highlighted the shift in Soviet foreign policy from militarism to diplomacy


Helsinki Summit

September 1990
In it, both Superpowers issued a joint condemnation against the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait. They also discussed on how to deal with the Gulf War to maintain international stability. This demonstrated Superpower cooperation towards world peace.


De-Sovietisation of Eastern Europe

It was a process of granting more political freedom to the Easten European countries by reversing the Brezhnev Doctrine. Eastern Europe was given greater access to Western ideas. Gorbachev also extended Glasnost and Perestroika to Eastern Europe.


'Gorbachev Doctrine'

It was the policy of disengaging from Third World conflicts via the sponsorship of peaceful resolution.
Example: Gorbachev withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan by February 1989.
There was also a cut back on support towards revolutionary movements in Africa and Latin America.


Restlessness in the Soviet Sphere of Influence

There were political unrests in several Eastern European states demanding for political reforms.
For example: Polish crisis in 1980: Solidarity, an autonomous and non-Communist trade union gained prominence. There were 10million active members in Solidarity. Soviet Union was contemplating on using military force. The Polish government under the Soviet Union declared Martial Law in December 1981 and forced Solidarity underground.

Prague Spring (August 1968) - Brezhnev sent the Red Army into Czechoslovakia to crush the reform movement.


Velvet revolutions

During 1989
(refer to picture)


Sinatra Doctrine

Coined on 25 October 1989
It was a policy of allowing her neighbouring Warsaw Pact nations to determine their own internal affairs. The USSR would no longer aid the communists in Eastern European states. It also encouraged Eastern Europe to reform using glasnost and perestroika. However, this gave the nations in Eastern Europe the impetus to oppose the government.
However, this removed a fundamental divisive issue between the US and USSR.



Gorbachev intended for the policy to invite constructive critique of the Soviet economy so as to pressure conservative within the Party who opposed Perestroika.
It gave the people freedom of speech in the media and in their daily lives.

Impact of glasnost:
The open invitation of criticism eroded the fear that had been present during the rule of previous leaders.
Without this fear, people demonstrated that they had little loyalty to the state.
The media also soon exposed severe social and economic problems such as poor housing and food shortage, which the Soviet leaders had long denied. People also soon learned about the atrocities comitted by Stalin. Thus, people no longer had faith in the Soviet system.


Chernobyl disaster

26 April 1986
There was a nuclear explosion and fallout. The Politburo kept silent and stonewalled on explaining the incident. This incident has:
- shown the uncertain response by officials
- shown the lack of disaster management procedures
- shown Soviet decay
- accelerated Gorbachev's reforms
- made Gorbachev realised the importance of media : How it can exaggerate the plight of the Soviet Union and he can also use it to his advantage



It was an attempt to modernise the Soviet society by restructuring the economy. It aimed to achieve less central planning and more private ownership and incentive.
Law of State Enterprise (June 1987) - The state enterprises were free to determine output levels and they became self-financing.
Law on Cooperatives (May 1988) - It permitted private ownership of businesses, thus increasing incentives for innovation.
Soviet Joint Venture Law (June 1987) - Allowed foreigners to invest in the Soviet Union, limiting foreign shares to 49 percent.


Failure of Perestroika

Failure of perestroika was caused by (1) Massive economic was long in practice in USSR, (2) expensive to make change (3) the sheer size of the USSR and (4) benefits of these changes were slow. (5) The reforms were also half-hearted, causing the economy to be neither a command economy nor a free one.

This resulted in: increased shortage of basic necessities such as food and clothes. Agricultural output fell in 1988. Staple products could no longer be found in the USSR.
Rouble went from 0.6 to a dollar in 1985 to 90 to a dollar in 1991.


Perestroika - 500-day Plan

A plan was proposed to transform the Soviet economy into a free market in 500 days. Gorbachev was torn between a more gradualist approach and a fully free market economy. Gorbachev eventually stuck with the gradual approach to please the conservatives, which costed him the allegiance of reformers. People eventually lost faith in Gorbachev and looked for Yeltsin.


Demokratizatsiya (Political reforms)

January 1987
It was the infusion of "democratic" elements into Soviet system. Democratization was meant to facilitate wider reforms. In it, competitive elections, reduced role for the communist party and a more independent legislature. The great change implemented destabilized USSR's political atmosphere


Democratizatsiaya elections

Introduced in 1988
This saw more democratically minded candidates and professionals. One example was Boris Yeltsin. Gorbachev encouraged party members to speak freely and vote as individuals representing their constituencies. Thus, party unity gradually eroded.


Breaking of the Soviet Union

Glasnost soon caused the Soviet Union to break up from within.
Internal revolt: Baltic Way protest. 2 million people protested across the cities of the 3 Baltic states. Lithuania declared independence in March 1990, followed by Latvia in May 1990 and then Estonia.
Georgia declared independence in April 1991.
In Russia, the biggest Soviet Republic, Boris Yeltsin was appointed President of the Russian Federation and in June 1991 won the first democratic elections with 57.3% votes. By December 1991, all of the republics had declared independence.


Treaty of Union

In March 1991, Gorbachev held a national referendum, proposing the new "union treaty", where USSR would become the "Union of Sovereign Soviet Republics" and the republics would be provided semblence of sovereignty while the Soviet government would control finances, resources, transportation, communications and the military. 6 of 15 republics refused to take part. Boris Yeltsin was against it as well.


August Coup

18 August 1991
Conservatives staged a coup to prevent the signing of the Treaty of Union. Gorbachev was held under house arrest. President Yeltsin manage to avoid arrest and went to the Russian Parliament building, where he declared the unconstitutional takeover and obey his government rather than the emergency comittee. Some of the Red Army units sided with Yeltsin. People refused to obey the Emergency Comittee, Gorbachev refused to sign any documents and Russian President Boris Yeltsin denounced the coup.
On 23rd Agugust, Yeltsin suspended the Russian Communist Party and Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary of the Communist Party.