Not everything you should know! You will need to use this knowledge as a basic idea and expand from there. Use it, read it, learn it. You know the whole trying to destroy your way of life was a joke – right?


“If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!”



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8. “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!”

In 1985 the new leader of the Soviet Union was Mikhail Gorbachev who took power and dramatically changed the Cold War by following a whole new set of ideas
8. Times they are a changing

Perestroika (Restructuring)
The Soviet economy was in ruins by the 1980s because of the Arms race and the war in Afghanistan. Gorbachev’s new idea allowed for a more capitalist approach to the economy to try and help the Soviet Union stop losing money



Glasnost (Openess)
People were given more freedom in their everyday lives. There was less control of the press and people were able to criticise the government. The irony was, the more freedom people got – they more they wanted and so the more the criticised Gorbachev!



End the Arms Race
Gorbachev knew that the Arms race was going to ruin the Soviet Union so he wanted to stop it. In 1985 he met with Reagan in Geneva where the discussions were actually between the 2 leaders and not their advisors! Good progress was made and the 2 met again in Reykjavik in 1986 and 1987. This was when the INF Treaty was signed which actually led to the destruction of 846 American Nukes and 1846 Soviet Nukes. The arms race was at an end.



Abandon the Brezhnev Doctrine
Gorbachev stopped Soviet interference in the Satellite States as he knew that the Soviets could no longer support or control them. Between 1989 – 1991 the Satellite States embarked on a series of changes and reforms that saw them break away from the Soviet Union and become democratic, capitalist countries


  • 1989 – Poland elects a non communist government

  • 1989 – Hungary Opens its borders with the west

  • November 1989 – Demonstrations in East Germany and Berlin for free elections. No opposition from the Soviets leads to the Fall of the Berlin Wall and a unified Germany

  • 1990 – Democratic elections in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia

As the Satellite Sates broke free – many people who were controlled by the Soviet Union but were not Russian wanted the same freedom. Between 1990 and 1991 the USSR broke up in 15 different countries. The Soviets were in no position to stop anyone leaving, nor did they want to.


Between December 2nd and 3rd, 1989, Gorbachev met with the new US President, George Bush in Malta. They declared that the Cold War was over, as Gorbachev announced:

"The world is leaving one epoch and entering another. We are at the beginning of a long road to a lasting, peaceful era. The threat of force, mistrust, psychological and ideological struggle should all be things of the past. I assured the President of the United States that I will never start a hot war against the USA."

In reply, President Bush said: "We can realise a lasting peace and transform the East-West relationship to one of enduring co-operation. That is the future that Chairman Gorbachev and I began right here in Malta.”



Thus concludes everything you wanted to know about the Cold War and were too afraid to ask (Key Topic 3)... Hope it was useful!


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