Today in History
22.5.1972: First U.S. President in Moscow
It reached the stage that the weapons amassed by both the United Sates and the USSR were more than sufficient to completely destroy each other. So it made little sense to continue with the arms race due to the immense destructive power of both sides.

At the start of the 1970s, the concern was to find a solution. All the European countries were requested to prepare and implement a joint European co-operation "Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe" (CSCE). This was intended to back up Budapest’s appeal to the Warsaw Pact states on March 17, 1969. The CSCE process was born.

Three years later, a face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the superpowers was arranged. U.S. President Richard Nixon travelled to Moscow from May 22-30, 1972. It was the first visit of a U.S. President to the Soviet capital. However, Nixon had already visited the Soviet Union as vice-president in 1959. "They expressed friendship and affection," he said then. "In this way, they are trying to demonstrate their desire to find a peaceful solution to the differences between our governments and our people."

To begin with, Nixon had placed his hopes in the Soviet head of government, Nikita Khrushchev. He believed that he could make global political use of the thawing of diplomatic relations that had been initiated by Khrushchev. In 1963, he explained the foreign policy objectives of the United States for dialogue with Moscow to a German reporter:

"I believe that now, where Khrushchev makes it known that he is fundamentally prepared to negotiate, we should not just negotiate the nuclear test ban and a non-aggression pact between East and West, but also extend these negotiations to the problem of coercive rule in the Soviet Zone, in Hungary, Poland and the other eastern bloc states."

Yet it was not until his Moscow visit in May 1972 when Nixon signed the agreements which were to become the cornerstones of the military balance between East and West. His discussion partner in Moscow was Leonid Brezhnev, whose rigid domestic policy course was viewed by the Russians as a period of “stagnation.”

In terms of his foreign policy, Brezhnev took an unclear stance. While the Soviet head of state pursued a policy of openness and détente towards the West on the one hand, his Brezhnev doctrine forced the socialist states to comply with Soviet communism or face the threat of force. This caused outrage in the West.

Through his foreign policy, Brezhnev wanted to secure the sphere of power achieved under Stalin. His foreign policy course was primarily a pragmatic one, that should ensure a maintenance of the status quo in Europe - the establishment of the post-war boundaries in Europe.

The “ABM” (Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty) was one of the most important agreements concluded during Nixon’s trip. The number of rocket defence positions was reduced initially to two and, in 1974, to one position. The number of additional strategic offensive weapons was limited in accordance with the principle of equality. It was not disarmament, but it was at least an attempt to control armaments.

In addition to these agreements, the heads of states passed the “Policy statement with respect to American-Soviet relations” on May 29. Under this agreement, both superpowers promised that they would not strive to achieve a unilateral advantage at the expense of the other party. Both parties to the agreement should prevent conflicts and situations that could lead to an increase in international tensions and problems. Their ultimate objective was a general and complete process of disarmament, as well as the creation of an effective system of international security.

These were far-reaching declarations of ideals. In the following years, they were subject to stern tests: the conflicts in developing countries impacted U.S.-Soviet relations. The war in October 1973 between Egypt and Syria, the Soviet Union’s continuous support of North Vietnam, as well as the liberation movements in Mozambique and Angola further strained relations.
Zitat des Tages
Zitat des Tages
The first US president visited Moscow on 22 May 1972. Who was it?
  President Lyndon B. Johnson
  President Richard Nixon
  President Gerald R. Ford