Gorbachev and Foreign Policy

Archie Brown

in The Gorbachev Factor

Published in print August 1997 | ISBN: 9780192880529
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598876 | DOI:
Gorbachev and Foreign Policy

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Gorbachev was able to have a decisive impact on the development of ideas concerning the Soviet Union's relationship with the outside world and on the actual conduct of Soviet foreign policy by virtue of half a dozen key appointments. These were the elevation of Eduard Shevardnadze to the post of Foreign Minister, in succession to Andrey Gromyko, in the summer of 1985; the replacement of Boris Ponomarev as head of the International Department of the Central Committee by Anatoly Dobrynin in 1986; the promotion of Alexander Yakovlev to Politburo and Secretariat membership (with oversight of international affairs from the autumn of 1988); the replacement of Konstantin Rusakov by Vadim Medvedev as head of the Socialist Countries Department of the Central Committee in 1986; the appointment of Anatoly Chernyaev as Gorbachev's principal foreign policy aide in 1986; and the appointment of Georgy Shakhnazarov as another close aide two years later. These appointments both reflected and facilitated Gorbachev's adoption of new thinking in the foreign policy sphere with, for example, a concern for mutual security and an emphasis on interdependence taking the place of an antagonistic ‘class approach’ to international relations; a novel emphasis on universal interests and values that undercut the traditional ‘two camps’ approach; and ‘reasonable sufficiency’ becoming the criterion for justifying Soviet military expenditure. The sources of the new thinking are discussed, and in the conduct of state‐to‐state relations, particular attention is paid to the Soviet‐United States relationship and to relations with Europe, both West and East. The changes Gorbachev introduced in Soviet foreign policy made possible the transformation of the East European political landscape and it is especially notable that he refused to attempt to stem the democratic tide that flowed across the Eastern part of the continent even when it threatened to overwhelm him.

Keywords: appointments; democracy; Europe; foreign policy; Mikhail Gorbachev; international relations; military expenditure; mutual security; Soviet Union; USA

Chapter.  22525 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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