Inside U.S.-Soviet Relations during the Carter-Brezhnev Period

Documents and Transcripts of Meetings between Leading American and Soviet Ex-Officials Explore Collapse of Détente in late 1970s – Published on The National Security Archive, by Svetlana Savranskaya and Malcolm Byrne (With grateful appreciation to James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang), Washington, DC, August 15, 2012.

High hopes for a “reset” of U.S.-Soviet relations in the late 1970s were shattered by ingrained suspicions and negative international trends to which both sides contributed under President Jimmy Carter and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, according to declassified documents and unique “critical oral history” transcripts posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.  

During this period the superpowers veered from cautious optimism about their relationship and the state of global security in the wake of Nixon-era détente, to bitter disillusionment and ramped-up hostility as the Cold War entered a new, more dangerous phase.

Today’s posting is the first in a new series based on the multi-year multi-national “Carter-Brezhnev Project.” It includes documents and previously unpublished transcripts from two unusual gatherings of former policy-makers from the U.S. and USSR that took place in the early 1990s, organized by James Blight and janet Lang, then of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, in cooperation with the National Security Archive, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, and others.

Among the participants at these extraordinary sessions were most of Carter’s top foreign policy advisers – ex-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, former Defense Secretary Harold Brown, ex-CIA Director Stansfield Turner, and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski – as well as several senior Soviet officials, including ex-Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh, former Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Kornienko, and long-time Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Dobrynin … (full text).

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