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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): Soviet-U.S. Relations: The End of the Cold War, 1985-1991

About This Collection

Soviet-U.S. Relations: The End of the Cold War, 1985-1991

This rare collection documents every formal exchange between U.S., Soviet, and Russian presidents from 1985-1991, leading to the peaceful ending of the Cold War. Summit transcripts and private correspondence from both Soviet and U.S. sources provide an intimate view of the bonds that developed between leaders and offer a window into superpower discussions on arms control, German reunification, regional conflicts, and human rights. Memoranda from presidential aides and intelligence analyses on a wide range of topics supplement the collection.

Research Value of This Collection

Soviet-U.S. Relations: The End of the Cold War, 1985-1991 is a collection of 1,911 documents, most of them recently declassified in the United States and Russia, documenting the transformation of U.S.-USSR relations in the period of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. These documents illuminate the dynamics of superpower relations at the end of the Cold War, and the transformation of the international system in the late 1980s. The collection features a complete series of U.S.-Soviet summit transcripts from Geneva 1985 through Madrid 1991, between Gorbachev and U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as memoranda of numerous phone calls between Bush and the Soviet leader, and Reagan and Gorbachev’s letters to each other. From early exchanges of letters between Reagan and Gorbachev after the latter came to power in March 1985 to the last phone call with Bush on December 31, 1991, these documents show the development of a productive relationship based on trust and a mutual interest in reversing the arms race, which provided a basis for spectacular achievements across the entire spectrum of foreign policy issues for both countries and even domestic reform in the USSR.

Content Sources

Origin Number of Documents
U.S. Embassies and Consulates 607
Department of State 393
National Security Council 248
White House 247
Soviet Union 227
Central Intelligence Agency 72
Other governments 44
USIA/USIS 33
Defense Department 20
U.S. Congress 10
Non-governmental 10