Secretary General Gorbachev proposes the removal of a number of trade restrictions between the European Community and the Council of Mutual Economic Cooperation, the two economic blocs in Europe. The removal of these unilateral restrictions have the capacity to increase trade across the Iron Curtain by up to twenty percent. Gorbachev also confirms that he will meet President Reagan in Torgau, East Germany, on 25 April, but that this will only be an opportunity to meet, not to engage in detailed discussion on any issues between the two superpowers.
US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, visits Moscow and meets with the new Soviet Secretary General. Gorbachev offers the opinion that the Reagan Administration is full of those “benefiting themselves and neglecting their people” and states that Reagan has no moral right to criticize the Soviet Union. He asks O’Neill to make his case to the President for trade and disarmament proposals.
Former US President Richard Nixon states that, with an arms agreement likely between the superpowers in the immediate future, the Administration should turn its attention to addressing the chaotic situations in the Middle East and Central America with the new Soviet leader.
President Reagan and Secretary General Gorbachev meet for the first time in Torgau, East Germany. Given the recent increase in troops headed to Afghanistan, the discussion between the two men is short and difficult. However, the two men exchange formal greetings and invite each other to visit the opposing country. The two are in attendance to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. In return for the generous terms offered by the planned treaty on intermediate missiles, the Americans have agreed to re-open international air links between the two countries, reduce trade restrictions and resume cultural and humanitarian views.
Four Americans, each of them either former or current Navy personnel, arrive in Moscow on a flight from Canada. They all worked at the base of the Atlantic nuclear fleet and had access to highly classified details regarding shipbuilding, submarine warfare tactics and communications codes. The Kremlin admits that they have been spying for the US since 1968 and the CIA speculates that this particular spy ring may have been the cause of the USS Pueblo incident. One, Jerry Whitworth, was the former communications chief of the USS Enterprise. Another, Arthur Walker, was a lieutenant commander and teacher at Annapolis. Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger admits that it is the greatest breach of security since the Rosenberg Affair.
Secretary General Gorbachev of the USSR denies accusations of involvement by his country in cutting off special flights from Frankfurt, West Germany, to Warsaw, Poland. These flights were allowing US officials behind the Iron Curtain to bring in comforts unavailable in Poland and elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc countries.
US Secretary of State George Schultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze meet in the Soviet Embassy in Vienna to sign the agreement made by the two superpowers in April. Schevardnadze briefs Schultz on opportunities for American investment in the move to what Schultz would later say “appears to be a significant step towards incorporation of market forces in the Soviet economy.” They agree, in principle, towards Soviet trade concessions that will add $930 billion to the US economy over the next fifteen years.
After three days of talks, US Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige agrees to the immediate lifting of some of the trade restrictions previously imposed upon the Soviet Union. In return, the Soviet government agrees to allow US capital to participate in the first round of Soviet private enterprises, but refuses to allow them to be owned by foreign capital.
Child ambassador Samantha Smith is advised of the interest of Soviet child actor, Katya Lycheva, in her work and is invited to attend the USSR in late August for a meeting. She decides to re-arrange her schedule on Lime Street to spend time in the Soviet Union and will invite Lycheva to visit the USA in 1986 as her guest.
Soviet propagandists accuse the US Administration of “gross and racist neglect”, citing a recent report by the US Congress which shows that African American children are twice as likely as other children to die before their first birthday. The report also shows that they are three times more likely to live in poverty, four times as likely to be orphaned and five times more likely to live on welfare. Senator Chris Dodd (CT-D) has recently introduced a bill to deal with nutritional deficiencies amongst the poor and its failure to pass is used by the Soviets to attack the American government.
Secretary General Gorbachev announces that he will be unable to attend the 40th Anniversary session of the United Nations in September, but he lets it be known that he is willing to meet with President Reagan in New York in October. The formal invitation by the White House is a mere formality thereafter.
US entrepreneur Kirk Kerkorian is offered a new $460 million deal with the Union Welfare Fund of the Soviet Union, during Ted Turner’s purchase of MGM/United Artists. It offers to buy eleven Las Vegas properties, covering all of Las Vegas Boulevarde South, from Spring Mountain Road to Russell Road, about 40% of the Las Vegas Strip, and agrees to retain all American staff of the property division of MGM. The US Administration will respond with legislation giving them the right to veto the project on grounds of national security. Turner’s proposed Goodwill Games, which brought the project to Soviet attention, are ignored by the Kremlin, but he will gain the right to hold a license to operate a television station within the Soviet Union.
Whole page advertisements appear in major Western circulars, such as the New York Times, Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Promoting a 56-page book which criticises the Reagan Administration of a “foreign policy based upon international blackmail, bullying and corruption”, it is written by former Soviet Ambassador to Canada and new Politburo member, Alexander Yakovlev. White House spokesperson Larry Speakes angrily accuses the Soviet government of a “public relations gimmick” and asks for similar room in Pravda.
The Soviet media exercise of the previous day is repeated. The second message states that there must be new ways of seeking arms control, that the greater danger lies not in too many or too few missiles, but in their potential to be used by mistake and miscalculation. It proposes new US-Soviet crisis-control protocols, regular high-level consultations, elimination of all medium-range nuclear weapons and safety devices for submarine-based weapons. Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government analyses the article and reports to the Administration that it is sound policy.
US National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane alleges that Soviet Secretary General Gorbachev is being undermined by his KGB Director, Viktor Chebrikov, and his new military chief, Marshal Viktor Kulikov. Both men claim that this is a “deliberate, absurd and outrageous lie”. The incident occurs on the same day that US President Ronald Reagan gives the go-ahead for the testing of a new anti-satellite weapon. Gorbachev publicly notes the attack upon his government, expressing concern that the Soviet Union may be unable to achieve peace with the US as long as Reagan remains in office. The US Administration is also criticised by former NSA Director, Admiral Noel Gaylor, who states that “Reagan’s agenda for the future can only be described as disappointing”.
An interview between TIME Magazine and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev is published. In it, Gorbachev offers evidence of a conspiracy within the US Administration to sell arms to Iran in return for hostages. He condemns Star Wars and nuclear testing, calling for a treaty to ban the latter. He discusses his reasoning behind the ending of arms shipments to Iran, the termination of aid agreements with North Korea and support for particular factions in the Lebanese Civil War.
Ted Turner, having had his Goodwill Games project rejected by both the US and Soviet governments, concludes the purchase of a medium-sized technology business in Wisconsin, General Satellite. Later that afternoon, General Satellite signs a Memorandum of Understanding between themselves and the Soviet government, opening discussions on a potential contract for new telecommunications infrastructure for the Soviet Union and television specifically.
General Satellite, wholly owned by Turner CNN, is awarded the right to construct an Izvestia satellite channel, with over $7 billion in costs spread out over three years. Large components of the network will be constructed elsewhere and will be transferred by ship to the Soviet Union, the Kremlin interested in reducing costs by relying on the Soviet merchant fleet, the sixth largest in the world.
US Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger claims that Soviet intelligence kidnapped two US military officers in East Berlin on 8 September. The Kremlin denies a kidnapping, stating that there was one officer, not two, the person had been involved in a motor vehicle accident and had recuperated only with the assistance of East German doctors. By day’s end, the Soviet story will be confirmed and Weinberger will send out Assistant Secretary of Defence Richard Perle to handle his press briefings for the next few days.
US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger admits his error over his recent press conference, but claims that the Soviet Union has innumerable spies infiltrating the American mainland. The Secretary of State, George Schultz, privately calls upon the President to discipline Weinberger’s attempt to “establish an individual and independent foreign policy agenda for the upcoming summit”.
The first foreign dignitaries begin to arrive in New York to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the United Nations. The leaders of ninety nations are expected to attend, and it is confirmed for the first time that Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev will be extending his trip to the United States in order to address the United Nations on 17 October.
The first Summit between the leaders of the USA and the USSR, Reagan and Gorbachev, is marked by the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It commits that, over four years, the Soviet Union will have abolished six missile classes, and the USA will abolish two – the Pershing and the Tomahawk. French and British arsenals are excluded from considerations. The two superpowers officially resume cultural and humanitarian exchanges, along with direct air services. While it appears that there is a degree of hostility between the two leaders, they state they have agreed, in principle, to a reduction of trade barriers between the two countries.
US President Ronald Reagan gives an address to the UN General Assembly, stating that he is looking for a “fresh start” with the Soviets and calls for an end to regional conflicts. He states that the Communist leadership globally is “at war with its own people”. During bilateral discussions with innumerable visiting leaders, he pushes the idea that the Soviet Union and the United States must be able to discuss their “fundamental differences”.
US President Ronald Reagan claims a diplomatic victory after the USSR offers an exit visa to Yelena Bonner, wife of ailing Soviet dissident, Andrei Sakharov. He also states that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has pledged a thorough review of all cases relating to political dissidents over the next three to six months. He claims that these developments are “positive seeds which we wish to nurture”.
In a meeting between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner, she delivers a message that her husband will be released from house arrest the same day on which the US President commits to granting clemency to Leonard Peltier, the Native American activist convicted for the murder of two FBI agents at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. When it emerges that this may be under consideration, there are considerable FBI protests, tacitly backed by FBI Director William Webster.
Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev announces the resolution of the so-called “divided spouses” situation, where Soviet citizens married to US citizens have been delayed in their application for exit visas, the longest for 11 ½ years.
The first book published by Mikhail Gorbachev, “A Time for Peace”, is published in New York.
Ronald Pelton, a former communications officer with the US National Security Agency, turns up in Moscow, having been smuggled out of the Americas via Mexico. The CIA are enraged, but are more disturbed by Jonathan Pollard, paid $50,000 by the Mossad to spy on America, a US ally and an action that is an offence under Israeli law. Israel, having been made aware of Moscow’s intention to uncover their agent, has communicated the details of Pollard’s actions secretly to Washington. It is decided that he will be detained after the Israeli election.
Soviet television criticise the release of the Sylvester Stallone film, Rocky IV, citing it as anti-Soviet propaganda and “cynical egotism”. While it is not shown in the USSR, many Soviet people will feel like they have seen the film due to repeated footage of the “senseless attack on the Soviet people”.
US Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige concludes a week in Moscow with hundreds of US business leaders. The Soviets have offered to increase import licenses granted to US companies, and, enthused by the offer, US companies have signed deals worth $200 million, at an average of over $25 million per day. Baldrige declares the journey a success.
US Secretary of State George Schultz undertakes a three-country trip to the Soviet bloc, taking in Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Schultz reports back to Washington that he observes “momentum for change”, but states that it is reliant upon continued and broad improvement in East-West relations.
US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger claims that, despite recent cuts in the Soviet military budget, the Spetsnaz (special forces) have not only been immune from the scalpel, but have had their budget tripled and will have a forty percent increase in number. He states that this is a clear indication of the ongoing aggressiveness of the Soviet Union. He also alleges that much of the enlarged space budget is military in nature and that the Soviets are building large numbers of T-64’s.
Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan grant each other prime-time television coverage to address each other’s people. They both declare that the New Year is a year of peace. Gorbachev talks of “saving the precious capital of trust between our nations and our peoples”. Reagan calls for a reduction in mistrust and suspicion to create a “clear sky for all mankind”. The combined audience reaches 250 million.
ETA Systems, a supercomputer company spun off from Control Data Corporation, reports a third year of losses. CDC has been offered an undisclosed sum to buy ETA Systems, this being the first acquisition of the recently-formed, New York- based investment company, Soviet International Investment Bank. The new board calls for abandonment of an independent operating system, seeking a UNIX-based design, despite user protests.
Gorbachev’s “Message to America” is heard by millions as they endure the Challenger disaster, where he cites the words of Anglo-American aviator and poet, John Gallespie Magee, Jnr. In later years, the space shuttle, which broke up shortly after take-off, will be compared with the Soviet disaster of 7 December, in which three Soviet scientists were killed, and will represent the end of competitive space exploration. The same day, the Administration receives a telex, in which the Soviets privately offer the analysis performed by Soviet space technicians on the shuttle and its rockets.
The Soviet Union announces the end of the export of asbestos, claiming that it needs the materials for its new semiconductor and high-grade ceramics industries. The US Office of Management and Budget estimates that the cost of replacing asbestos in the economy will be $180 million per annum, but it is pointed out that the Environmental Protection Authority already had a ten-year plan in place to phase out asbestos. This plan will now be accelerated.
It is privately confirmed to the US State Department that Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Andrei Sakharov, will be released from house arrest on 22 May and sentences are reduced for fourteen others. His wife, Yelena Bonner, returns to the USSR to prepare for his voyage home. In return, President Reagan privately commits to offering clemency to Leonard Peltier when he departs office, delayed to take account of FBI concerns.
Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Alexander Bovin, meets with South Carolina Senator, Ernest Hollings, and Secretary of the Treasury James Baker for lunch. Bovin hinted that the Soviet Union might be willing to reach an agreement for open transfer of all space technologies, mentioning in particular access to the soon-to-be manned Mir space station and the details of the full capabilities of the Polyus battle lab weaponry. He also advises that the Soviet Union has decided not to publicly endorse the agenda of the Lima Group; however, it will be joining OPEC in locking in the price at which it sold its oil, at $20.60 per barrel. He suggests that the Americans do likewise to boost domestic industry and maximise national reserves. He projects that as a result of this policy, America will have oil security until at least 2005, at which stage the undeniable fact of relying on imports for most of its oil becomes apparent.
The Soviet Defence Minister, Sergei Sokholov, confirms that the Kremlin will build thirty-five supersonic heavy bombers, similar to the B-1 Lancer. In addition, US$13 billion will be invested over four years into the development of a stealth bomber. Unknown to the Americans, a design engineer at Northrop Corporation, Noshir Gowadia, has sold the secrets of the B-2 Spirit to the USSR, thinking that he has been dealing with a West German contractor.
US taskforce, led by the aircraft carriers America, Saratoga and Coral Sea, and comprising some thirty warships, moves into the Gulf of Sidra. They are surprised to be confronted by Soviet warships, including the carrier Admiral Gorshkov. During these manoeuvres in which far too many vessels occupy the same territory, two opposing ships collide, causing damage to the cruiser Kronstadt and the USS Yorktown. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze and US Secretary of State George Schultz meet in an emergency summit in Geneva to prevent the situation from deteriorating.
The USS Caron moves into the Black Sea and crosses into Soviet waters in a deliberate act of provocation, coming close enough to fire on Sebastopol. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze pulls out of talks in Geneva, arguing that the US military’s violation of the Soviet border prevents any further discussion. US Charge d’affairs in Moscow, Richard Combs, is called to the Kremlin and advised that two-fifths of his staff have had their diplomatic visas cancelled.
US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger states that the United States is threatened with the loss of its historical edge in weapons technology, but the press conference is more focused on the threat of engagement with the Soviet Union over its ongoing support and defence of the Libyan government. He also hints that US intelligence has suggested that new weaponry is being transferred to Tripoli, but identification of the weaponry remains uncertain.
The Soviet news agency, TASS, praises Italy’s acquittal of three Bulgarian defendants on charges of conspiracy to assassinate Pope John Paul II. It states that “charges of a Communist plot against the Catholic Church have crumbled to nothing but biased innuendo”.
US Secretary of State George Schultz condemns the decision by the USSR to extend $10 million in economic aid to the Central American nation of Belize, saving the nation from having to issue bonds, but welcomes the decision of the USSR to sell future oil output at today’s price.
Prime Minister Manuel Esquival of Belize states that receipt of the aid will not alter the foreign policy of Belize, but he will later admit to US officials that the Soviets spoke with him about using Belize as a potential safe haven for citizens of the British territory of Hong Kong, due to return to China in 1997.
In a lengthy interview with Newsweek, Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev discusses that the Soviet Union is committed to becoming a “more democratic state” but declines to establish a timeframe or definition until his May Day Address. He states that the Soviet military have moved into a “more defensive mindset to encourage greater arms control and international cooperation” but is facing “some extreme and unnecessary provocations”. He also called for the establishment of an “International Trade Organisation” to replace GATT, recognising that this will require the Soviet Union to “adopt some market principles, more efficient labour systems and true worker ownership of the means of production”.
Soviet officials detain an American, John Weymouth of San Francisco, who wanders across the Bering Strait. He states that he is looking for “odd jobs” and likes to wander, but has to convince them that he is not seeking to defect, just looking for work. The Kremlin orders that he be given a tourist working visa if desired, or arrange him to be flown to the United States. Weymouth, 33, chooses to “hang around for a while and then do some more walking”.
The Pentagon loses contact with its only reconnaissance satellite only one week after a Titan rocket exploded in an attempt to deliver its partner. With the loss of two Titan rockets and the shuttle program offline, the United States has no way to launch heavy payloads into orbit and US space intelligence is effectively blinded and no way to resolve the problem for at least eighteen months. This takes on particular importance due to the Soviet plan to launch the Polyus at the end of the year.
In an official response from East Germany to the Gulf of Sidra incident, the Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev expresses the view that the United States has brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. He calls for extensive cuts to the US military as a “guarantee of future peace”. Gorbachev also calls for an international meeting to form a “united front against terrorism”, offering strong support for a key US policy at a time when there is weak support in the ranks of NATO over the Libyan issue. To the US State Department, this is formalised in the Realpolitik offer of a non-specific quid pro quo, the end of Soviet support in some insurgencies in return for American support in others, in order to leave Libyan concerns to the USSR. 71% of Americans tell pollsters that they agree with the action and 60% say that it makes them “proud”. The same number believes they could eventually be the victim of a terrorist attack.
Soviet Defence Minister Sergei Sokholov announces that the second Admiral Kuznetsov class carrier will not be built as planned, despite the exceptional quality of the work being done thus far on the first. Instead, the Soviet navy will aim to design a new aircraft carrier class, to begin construction in 1989. This will be the two supercarriers called the Lenin class. This will give the USSR parity with Great Britain in 1995, though both countries combined will retain forty percent of US naval projection.
Oleg Tumanov, a former editor at Radio Liberty in Munich, reappears on Moscow TV in front of a news conference. He states that he has been working for the KGB the whole time and had been recalled. Tumanov receives an Order of the October Revolution medal for his efforts and proudly wears it before the press.
Responding to the Mandela release and the announced plan to release Andrei Sakharov, there are once again calls to release Anatoly Shcharansky. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze calls for a general Mid-East peace conference with no preconditions so that the “refuseniks” issue can be discussed, among other items.
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze meets with US President Ronald Reagan to suggest the beginning of a peace process in the Middle East. He recommends that the Reykjavik summit proceed, but that Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan should also be invited, with Palestinians attending as part of the Jordanian delegation and with no official recognition of the PLO by Israel. There will be no power to impose solutions, or to veto agreements, merely an attempt to open communications between both superpowers and their respective Middle East allies. Reagan agrees to put forward the meeting.
A conservative US think-tank investigating the Soviet proposals for a “socialist commodity” economy state that the opening of the market will be have immediate impacts but warns that China’s history indicates they will face the potential quagmire of the bureaucracy, strong worker bias in industrial relations, the need to update the communications systems and a lack of clarity about tax structures. Washington has interpreted the information available to mean that Moscow is intending to follow a Beijing prescription. They suggest the establishment of a U.S.-Soviet Joint Economic Committee to “guide the transition” of the Soviets, but also suggest that the only people to make money from the Soviet work in the short term will be consultants and Soviet hotel operators.
Beginning of the Berlin Incident of 1986 when East Germany begins to restrict Western access to East Berlin, informally establishing the Berlin Wall as an international border. President Erich Honecker states that this is a necessary anti-terrorism measure. Most countries choose to avoid problems at Checkpoint Charlie and to enter Berlin via Stolpe, some kilometres to the north.
Denmark and the Netherlands offer to negotiate with the East Germans to restore access for their diplomats. President Erich Honecker of East Germany refuses to consider the option, forcing the intervention of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The United States cancels all official exchanges with East Germany in response to the Berlin Incident.
Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Berlin and instructs President Erich Honecker of East Germany to rescind the troublesome regulations relating to Checkpoint Charlie. He also takes the opportunity to condemn the United States for the decision to abandon the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. He once again raised the prospect of German unification and suggests a deadline of 11 November, 1988, the 70th anniversary of World War I. He also states that unification will require West Germany to leave NATO, but that this will, in turn, remove the fundamental reason for the creation of the Warsaw Pact.
US Secretary of State George Schultz begins a tour of the Pacific Rim, including attendance at meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South Pacific Forum. He carries news that the military alliance between the USA and New Zealand is formally over, and a $200 million cheque for the Tolentino government in the Philippines.
The Soviet President, Andrei Gromyko, announces that he will approve the Anatoly Marchenko release if and when the Government is prepared to recommend that he do so. Premier Yegor Ligachev states that the matter of this dissident author will be given “immediate priority” and that the case will be reconsidered by himself and KGB Director Viktor Chebrikov immediately.
Soviet Premier Yegor Ligachev reports that the Council of Ministers has yet to reach a consensus position on the matter of Anatoly Marchenko, but is not disagreed “on the key question”. He states that he offered his resignation on the matter of Marchenko for failing to achieve a consensus, but it has been declined by President Andrei Gromyko. He states that he believes a position will emerge over the next 48 hours.
It is announced that Anatoly Marchenko is released from prison. Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev states that he has completely abstained from any conversation on the matter, due to his wife’s comment. It is believed that he had approved the release of the topic into the public domain, but it is unclear whether he agreed with his wife or not.
The Soviet Air Force confirms that they have tested a prototype of a stealth fighter, but admit that the program has only just begun (at a cost of $140 million thus far). Defence Minister Sergei Sokholov states that the plane will not be operational until at least 1993 and probably will not be mass produced before the new century.
President Laurent Fabius of France visits the Soviet Union, attempting to advance a French position for the unconfirmed Middle East summit. He also confirms his position that there can be no further advance in bilateral relations between the superpowers until US President Ronald Reagan agrees to scrap the Strategic Defence Initiative.
In a surprising international incident, President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia announces the brutal slaying of a GRU officer in Tunis. The Soviet government asks for an investigation into the crime, expressing fear that the proximity of the body to the US Embassy suggests a possible connection.
PRAVDA reports on new computer surveillance of American workers. This is compared with stories of people who have found the new community computer centres helpful. The US Ambassador lodges a complaint about the story, which is duly filed. Secretary General Gorbachev has conveniently taken an overnight flight to Portugal.
Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev addresses a gathering of elite in Lisbon, Portugal, during which he states that “Eurocommunism” has been a failed cause. He calls for the restoration of ties between European communist parties and the Kremlin, saying that an attempt to widen their support base has meant a lack of direction for the parties and they need to create and offer “constructive and concrete programs” to their electorates. “The Communist Party appears old-fashioned. The Communist Party sometimes appears to be from another era. In a democratic environment, that is political suicide.” He publicly confirms that Ethiopia is no longer a member of the Communist International, and that he believes arms negotiations are dead until President Ronald Reagan leave office in January, 1989.
The Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Alexander Bovin, approaches the White House to purchase wheat, stating that the restructure of much of the Soviet agricultural sector is still ongoing and that this is interrupting basic food supply. He demonstrates Soviet government figures showing projections of 40% take-up of “new enterprise” structures among formerly state-owned agricultural collectives by the end of 1987. Agreement helps the US get rid of some of its stockpile and raises food prices marginally around the globe.
The Soviet Defence Minister, Sergei Sokholov, announces the intended withdrawal of 5,500 troops from Afghanistan by the year’s end, stating that “the Soviet surge” has stabilised the country. Though attacks are not uncommon, they have fallen by over ninety percent and deaths have fallen by nearly the same amount. He warns that further moves to pull back forces would be “premature in the face of the threats we have seen arise before”. He confirms plans for a staged withdrawal of a large number of troops from Mongolia, with the aim to improve relations with China.
US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Perle arrives in Moscow, where he meets with Soviet Defence Minister, Sergei Sokholov, and Soviet Agricultural Minister, Viktor Nikhonov. Nikhonov is increasingly regarded as a likely promotion to the Politburo, and is apparently regarded as extremely close to the Secretary General.
Vremya Television has recently been given permission to make a documentary on New York City. When it appears on Soviet televisions, it is a comparison of the cramped housing of the socialist system of the USSR and the “overwhelming homelessness” on American streets. They use an American veteran, now homeless, as their tour guide through the worst recesses of the world’s largest city. US President Ronald Reagan states that cultural exchanges may be suspended once again if the Soviets cannot refrain from using them for propaganda purposes.
US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger refuses to confirm Washington Post reports that the Administration is well advanced in tests on the F-19 Stealth fighter plane, recently discussed by author Tom Clancy in his Red Storm Rising novel (a World War III history).
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze claims that the US is threatening to scuttle the Middle East peace summit next month by continually threatening to scrap the SALT II framework. “Not only are they stalling progress on global disarmament and detente, but the Reaganites now want to stop peace in the Middle East,” he states.
The Central Intelligence Agency confirm that the prototype Tupelov Tu-160, codenamed “Blackjack”, was used in the most recent bombing in Pakistan and that it may have been upgraded with US technology. US President Ronald Reagan is advised by his National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Colin Powell, that the Soviet Union now has the capacity to penetrate Alaskan airspace undetected. Soviet Ambassador Alexander Bovin is demanded at the Oval Office, and advised of a new $210 million grant to Pakistani intelligence.
The US National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Colin Powell, advises the White House that, despite massive harassment by the Iranian air force on Persian Gulf traffic, Soviet ships have not suffered any troubles. He also notes intelligence reports which indicate that the Soviets are once again pumping natural gas to Iran. He suggests a thorough investigation into the possibility of a new relationship between the USSR and the Iranians. The same day, he and CIA Director William Webster fronts the media to play down the Kerry Report on US complicity in drug smuggling. Webster argues that reform was already underway and thus the report bears no significance.
The triennial meeting of the Nonaligned Nations gathers in Harare, the cost of the project covered by $30 million in aid from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Prime Minister Robert Mugabe expresses dismay at rising military expenditure globally and urges that the money be used to help members of the Lusaka Conference.
TIME does an interview with Soviet Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, who states that his US counterpart, George Schultz, is a “good friend”. Shevardnadze says that, while the US Administration once believed the Soviet Union was the “focus of evil in the modern world”, it now realises that there is a chance for “real, fair and verifiable change” by talking to Moscow. When the hardline attitude of US President Ronald Reagan is raised, Shevardnadze states, “In the long run, we believe in the judgement of the American people, and that they will choose the path of peace over conflict.” Asked what would be the next Soviet peace initiative, he states that the American government is “very much aware of the next steps required of them to build trust.” He points to further conventional military cuts in the Soviet Union over the next year as evidence that the American electorate must tell their leaders they want peace. He also suggests that the Americans should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Libya.
US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev have handshake before the press in Reykjavik, the former being presented by the latter with a mink ushanka matching his own, complete with gold badges of their individual national flags. Reagan tells the media about how he forgot to pack his own hat at Camp David, and Gorbachev uses the opportunity to ask for a cameo in Tom Clancy’s next novel. Reagan will later state he was impressed by the earnestness of the Soviet leader for peace and his staunch belief in his attempts to achieve “Leninist socialism”. In private meetings, Gorbachev tells Reagan that the Soviets will abide by lapsed SALT II provisions until a new agreement is reached and a delay on that agreement is providing him the time for the reorganisation of his conventional forces, now into its eighteenth month and expected to reach completion by the middle of 1989.
On the final day of the Reykjavik conference, US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev discuss the possibility of a second “new style” UN mission, but it will ultimately be vetoed by the Peoples Republic of China.
KGB Chairman Viktor Chebrikov today confirmed that Soviet agents were responsible for the death of an American citizen, Cheryl Bentov, in London last month. Speaking to the Soviet press in the company of defector, Mordechai Vanunu, Chebrikov stated that the brutal slaying was part of a counter-intelligence campaign against Mossad, Israel's external security agency. He also claimed that Bentov had been the key Mossad agent in an attempt to abduct Vanunu, who has now been given asylum in the USSR until Britain agrees to allow him to return without prejudice.
The US Congress announces a decision to sell eighteen Northrop F-5’s to Honduras after the Soviets offer to sell both Honduras and Nicaragua their Mikoyan MiG-21 jets. Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney warns that, unless the Congress is prepared to be “more supportive of our friends and allies”, the arms manufacturing industry faces major problems in the United States and risks opening up the chance for Soviet interference in Central America to proceed further.
Talks between US Secretary of State George Schultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in Geneva again break down over the continual disagreement about the Strategic Defense Initiative. Schultz states that he is convinced that the Soviets were attempting to “stonewall”.
The new Soviet journal, Weekly Times, reports to the Soviet people that the AIDS virus, “contained only by the genius of Soviet science” may have been the result of a biological warfare experiment by the United States. It predicts that the Soviets will verifiably abandon chemical and biological weapons over the next fifteen years if the US and China prepared to do likewise. US Secretary of State George Schultz arrives back in Washington D.C. to condemn the “slur”, but is also taken with the offer.
Soviet Trade Minister Nikolai Slyunkov expresses disappointment at the breakdown of negotiations with McDonalds Corporation and PepsiCo. He announces that the monies provided to encourage investment will instead be allocated to establish the Institute of Food Sciences for each of the new Union Heritage Parks. Its job will be to promote local food banks, celebrate local culinary traditions, direct preservation of agricultural enterprises, control pesticide use and support organic marketplaces.
The Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze visits Japan, Kirabati, Vanuatu and New Zealand on a tour of the Pacific. He has been instructed to take advantage of the distance between the US and their traditional Pacific allies by emphasising the new age of “cooperation” in Soviet foreign policy.
Pravda, the Soviet daily newspaper, claims that the US movie “Top Gun” is a propaganda piece created by the US Navy, citing a former US Navy officer as stating that “movies critical of the military are very difficult to make in the United States”. The editorial team expresses concern, quoting a Kremlin aide that the “US youth are being fed fascist propaganda to condition them towards an attack upon the Soviet people”.
It is confirmed that the Americans are in violation of the SALT II, the first acknowledged violation of a major arms accord by any superpower. Soviet President Andrei Gromyko savagely attacks the breach, and argues that the USSR may need now to look at deploying more strategic weapons than in the past.
Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in India for a four-day visit. He speaks to the Indian Parliament, stating that complete nuclear disarmament is achievable if the Great Powers can agree on how it can happen. He states that his American counterpart “needs to develop some hope in humanity”, warning that his military apparatus has become a “voracious monster”. He claims that, given the Americans stand in violation of the SALT II Treaty, there is no reason yet to believe they are fully complying with the INF Treaty. He states that the Soviet Union will give India $1.37 billion in credit to begin a partnership in the establishment of a national hydroelectric scheme, with the aim of tripling energy production in that sector by 2050, and decreasing the coal sector from roughly a quarter of all energy production to ten percent by 2025.
India’s Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, welcomes Airborne Warning and Control technology, a gift from his visiting Soviet counterpart. Premier Mikhail Gorbachev expresses the view that India is the most valuable friend in the community of non-aligned nations. He also brings talking points from moderate contacts with Iran, who, like India and the Soviet Union, are seeking resolution of the instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician who sold the details of his country’s weapons program to the British press, leaves the USSR to return to London after Prime Minister Nigel Lawson guarantees that he will not be returned to Israel to stand trial for espionage. Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi has ordered an investigation into how Mossad and the KGB were able to operate so blatantly on the streets of his capital.
Innumerable heads of state and government attend the planned demolition of the Berlin Wall, which falls under a pyrotechnic display after twenty-six years. Many speeches marked this day as a landmark event, the beginning of the end of the Cold War period. Over the next six months, pieces of the Wall will be on sale around the world and will become collected objects of art. As Die Welt reported on changes in traffic, the police on both sides became part of a single city command, funded by an appointed metropolis council. Advisors on behalf of major donors to the reconstruction project are permitted to attend and speak at the council, including the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain and France.
TASS network begins a documentary television program, introducing émigrés who have returned from the United States to live in the Soviet Union. They talk of “a menial existence” in which one must “constantly worry about bills”. One notes that, “Whatever America represents, it isn’t freedom.” Another warns that the cities of the United States are unsafe after four in the afternoon. Further comments include that citizens have been “duped” by Western propaganda, and that life in the US is “ruthless, violent, depressing and constantly fearful”. The documentary ends with a call to the Soviet government to allow one thousand other émigrés awaiting approval to return home, arguing that they are mostly professionals who could assist in national reconstruction.
Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, in a call which was allegedly to give his best wishes to President Reagan, advises Vice President George Bush of his strong desire to reach agreement on strategic weapons and concern over aggressive US behaviours. He names two new SDI installations in Greenland and Britain as examples that the United States is in violation of the ABM Treaty and SALT II.
The US press question the functioning of new “drug prevention, education and treatment centres” in the Soviet Union. With 46,000 residents of the centres, Soviet Interior Minister Alexander Vlasov insists that this is a “relatively recent phenomenon” and is linked to koknar, an opium addiction picked up by soldiers in Afghanistan. He states that, with the ongoing withdrawals from Afghanistan, the koknar addiction should be able to be eliminated from Soviet society. The US press suggest they are new prisons.
Soviet Defence Minister, Sergei Sokholov, confirms that the Soviet Union has two operational Tupolev Tu-160 and plans to build a total of forty-five of these strategic bombers over the next twenty years. He compares this to the planned construction of 138 B-1 Lancer projected by the US government and suggests that the Soviet Union has shown the path of moderation without sacrificing its strategic abilities. He also states that the Lancer has earned the international status of “America’s Flying Edsel”.
Sgt Clayton Lonetree, a guard at the US Embassy in Vienna, appears on state television in Moscow. Lonetree, who was seduced by a “honeypot” KGB agent, states he felt trapped, but could not face the rest of his life in prison for becoming a spy on behalf of the Soviet Union. He is shown in his new home in the port city of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.
Commenting on the Strategic Defence Initiative, US Secretary of Defence Dick Cheney states that his predecessor’s dream of laser beams fired from battle stations in space “is a dream for the 21st century”. He suggests that ground based interceptors are “within the terms of immediacy required by the Administration”.
The Ted Turner broadcasting empire admits that it is facing financial difficulty after his purchase of MGM/United Artists. The Soviet government, who have relied upon Turner for the construction of their own networking infrastructure, offer a cash infusion of $500 million in return for a 30% share of his company.
Yevgeni Yevtushenko, a famed poet and known apologist for the Soviet regime, visits the United States for a speaking tour. During the talks, he addresses directly the policies of perestroika and korenizatsiya, which he states are an “evolution” of the socialist system. He suggests that, despite some opposition, the movement is gathering strength. He points to live news broadcasts, among other signs, as indicators of a growing Soviet maturity, and suggests that refusal by some Western governments to credit the change relate “to their need for an international bogeyman to justify their policies”.
The Union Investment Bank announces a $125 million deal with Apple to develop the graphical user interface for the Soviet national operating network, based on the UNIX system.
While attending a defence symposium in Munich, US Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle attacks his fellow NATO members for “issuing bland communiqués, avoiding controversy, papering over differences and placating public opinion”. He states that any concessions to the Soviets were “verging on dangerous nonsense”. Acting White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, states that Perle “does not speak in this matter for the President”.
Soviet academician and politician, Andrei Sakharov, is granted permission to do a foreign interview with members of the American Council on Foreign Relations. He states that Premier Gorbachev has made considerable effort to remove the “irrational and outmoded” aspects of the Soviet system, pointing to various inefficiencies which have been solved over the past two years. He warns that there is “stern opposition” to the reforms, even within elements of the Politburo, but Sakharov believes that the chances of success in the medium term are good. He also warns that numerous Soviet politicians are keen on good relations with the US but are “bitter at the perceived unreliability of the US bourgeois leadership”.
US television talk host, Phil Donahue, visits the United States for a series of shows with students from Moscow high schools. Donahue becomes agitated during the first taping after he suggests that the students are “sheep”, and are pretending that everything is positive in the Soviet Union. One student replies that the USSR does have problems, but that things are improving and “alright”. Another student states that the Americans have a “flawed national psyche”, desiring to “create problems where none exists” to satisfy their “need for drama”. If nothing else, the shows indicate a deep misunderstanding of each other’s cultures.
US Secretary of State George Schultz states that even a modest deployment of the Strategic Defence Initiative, with less advanced technology, will cost in excess of $150 billion and that the full project will cost over $1 trillion. The air force generals in charge of the project confirm the cost estimations, which are far in excess of the amounts suggested by the Pentagon.
The Soviet Union conducts a nuclear weapons test in Kazakhstan, its first in two years. This end of the moratorium is interpreted as a failure by the superpowers and a potential return to the historic rivalry. Ex-US President Richard Nixon states that he has dealt with “a more difficult Soviet leadership” in the past and will bring the Kremlin to the table.
US Secretary of State George Schultz announces that he will fly to Moscow in mid-April to sign a new agreement, constructed over just a few days of telephone discussion with his Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze. While it fails the definition of a comprehensive agreement, covering only three percent of total missiles, the US agrees to sacrifice nearly six hundred warheads and the Soviets nearly three hundred. However, the Soviets agree to remove all missile sites west of the Ural Mountains, meaning that, in future, Europe can only be struck by long range ICBM’s.
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl meets in East Berlin with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Premier. He states that his nation will pursue a “new way of thinking in German foreign policy”, that he believes “in the sincerity of the Soviet people and leadership” and looks forward to finding “a balanced solution for trans-European peace”. His words cause grave concern in Washington.
Soviet intelligence chief, Viktor Chebrikov, admits that there has been a second defection from the US Embassy in Moscow, with Marine Corporal Arnold Bracy seeking asylum in the Soviet Union. He admits that he let Soviet intelligence into the embassy’s communications centre. It is immediately suggested that Bracy and his accomplice, Clayton Lonetree, may have completely compromised US communications between July 1985 and March 1986, a time during which the Soviet had a clear advantage in psychological operations. Bracy will later become Deputy Chief of the KGB 9th Directorate, Leningrad, in 2001, then Chief in 2006.
US Ambassador to Moscow, Arthur Hartman, announces his retirement after the Marine spy scandal. He admits that three other guards have been compromised by illegal fraternisation and that two were expelled last year for rape. He also states that illegal currency deals are being investigated and that apologies have been made to Moscow restaurants for “disorderly behaviour”. US Marines have a reputation, according to Moscow sources, of hard-drinking woman-chasing brawlers.
US Secretary of State George Schultz announces that eleven nations have agreed, after an extraordinarily secret process, to controls on the spread of missile technology. Including the Soviets and the Chinese, the new agreement states that no nation will export any missiles able to carry more than 500 kilograms, or travel a distance greater than 300 kilometres.
US Secretary of State George Schultz visits the Kremlin to make a formal complaint about the recent sex-for-secret Marine scandal and to accept an invitation to meet with defectors involved. He agrees to take a message back to the new President suggesting a leader’s summit in Moscow during the latter half of the year.
The US Supreme Court agrees to the deportation, long demanded, of former Estonian citizen, Karl Linnas, convicted in absentia for running a Nazi death camp in Tartu during World War II. He will die in prison two months later, before his death sentence can be carried out.
During a meeting reported many years later, US President George Bush and former US President and peace envoy Richard Nixon meet in the Oval Office. Nixon tells Bush that he needs to start treating the Soviets as “the formidable opponents they are” and that Reagan has allowed the Soviets to “successfully decouple western Europe from the United States”. He warns that Bush cannot afford to deal with weapons only, but that he needs to focus on “broader political and military terms”. That afternoon, President Bush states that “a Soviet Union genuinely interested in peace will cease aiming its missiles at all our allies, including those in Japan and South Korea”, and later in the evening, he gives his first national address in which he addresses the “two myths about nuclear weapons”. “They cannot be uninvented and, no matter how effective the defence, they cannot be made obsolete by the Strategic Defence Initiative”.
US President George Bush states that missile defences will go ahead, but will be solely focused on protecting missile sites. However, he states that if the Soviets are prepared to negotiate on offensive weapons, the US is prepared to negotiate on defensive ones.
French Premier Simone Veil arrives in Moscow for a three-day visit. There is friction due to Veil’s insistence on giving a speech criticising Soviet attitudes towards Jewish applications for migration. Premier Mikhail Gorbachev responds with a speech criticising French attitudes toward deterrence and “its failure to be counted among those who wish to end the roulette of nuclear armaments in Europe”. The two leaders schedule a meeting for the following day and originally planned for one hour, it lasts for five.
New US Secretary of State James Baker holds a private dinner with all former directors of policy planning for his department, including George Kennan, a key designer of the Marshall Plan, and Ambassador to China Winston Lord. His question is how the Administration should respond to the new Soviet challenges and restore public consensus over foreign policy.
US President George Bush agrees to attend a regional conference of Central American leaders in Guatemala in August to “lay the groundwork for the future peace and prosperity” of the region. He states that recent positive moves by Nicaragua, growing stability in El Salvador and a general “move towards democratic institutions” have allowed the United States to review its policy. It will be the first meeting between Nicaraguan and US representatives in over eight years.
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze criticises the build-up of US forces in the Persian Gulf. He expresses fear that the situation in the Middle East may lead to “increasingly radical shifts in the regional balance of power”. He is also concerned that Israel may take advantage of Syria’s current weakness, engulfing not only the two powers but their superpower protagonists. He also states that he is hopeful for the role of a united Germany as a neutral arbiter between East and West and “as a key Soviet partner”.
US Secretary of State James Baker admits that accusations of biological warfare made against the Soviet Union in 1981 by Ronald Reagan were false. At the time, the President had been advised that the Soviets had dropped fungal poisons in Laos and Kampuchea, but later investigations established that the “yellow rain” was, in fact, pollen. This information has now been declassified and Baker states that the Administration rushed to release the information for propaganda purposes without scientific verification.
Moscow’s Lomonosov State University welcomes a visit for child peace activist, Samantha Smith, four years after her initial tour. The goodwill ambassador, now fifteen, is in attendance to endorse the university’s decision to launch a series of scholarships in Soviet studies for US citizens, named in her honour. She tells the media that she will study in the USSR when she finished high school.
The Soviet Navy tests two modified warheads about 500km southwest of Hawaii, its first known test in the southern Pacific. In addition, US surveillance aircraft are hit by disruptive lasers when attempting to monitor the tests. US Defense Secretary Richard Cheney states that this is the closest the Soviets have come to dropping a missile on US soil and that they are practicing an attack upon America. It is interpreted as an action to place pressure on the US Congress to kill the funding to the Strategic Defence Initiative, once and for all.
The US State Department announces an investigation of Union Bank International, stating it has grown quickly into a conglomerate of thirteen different companies operating twenty-seven different countries outside the Soviet bloc. Secretary of State James Baker states that the investigation is not “hostile”, but looking at elements of Islamic law which have been incorporated by the USSR to make the bank acceptable in its Muslim republics.
Sgt Clayton Lonetree, one of the two marines charged last March with espionage on behalf of the Soviets, asks for permission to return to the United States without prejudice. He recants his statements that they allowed the KGB into the US embassy in Moscow, arguing he felt coerced by his involvement with a Russian woman. US President George Bush sends Rear Admiral John Gordon, head of Naval Security, to Moscow to interview Lonetree, but no agreement will be reached.
US Secretary of State James Baker arrives in Moscow to finalise details for the superpower summit to be held in a fortnight. Due to arguments within the Soviet hierarchy over the plans for the summit, he announces that the summit has been moved to the city of Valletta on the island of Malta.
Former US President Richard Nixon arrives in Valletta for a meeting with Soviet Poliburo member Anatoly Dobrynin. The men issue a joint statement saying they are “enormously excited” about the planned agreement for a major deal in strategic arms and that both parties have “a vital stake” in the conclusion of agreement to meet their economic goals. Nixon depicts the relationship as one of “warm affection” and Dobrynin states that the US and the USSR have reached “an area of substantive common ground”.
A Soviet military attaché, who is also a former member of Soviet special forces, foils the attempt by a recently-terminated US Air employee to hijack the daily flight of Pacific Southwest Airlines from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The Soviet Ambassador criticises the United States aviation service controls, demanding that airline flight crew should be subject to the same security measures as passengers.
US academic quarterly Foreign Policy declares “the age of detente has returned” following the Malta summit.
Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) announces that, in the New Year, he will hold hearings for the Armed Services Committee on steps that the United States should take to reduce the superiority of the Warsaw Pact in conventional weaponry in the European theatre.
US President George Bush comments on the recent revelations about a planned fighter sale to Nicaragua, stating he trusts the Soviet leader not to violate international agreements but will insist on verification of goodwill. “I believe the desire for change is real,” he states, “and that Gorbachev is sincere in his desire for peace. I’m cautiously hopeful.” He also states that the US should increase pressure on the Soviet Union next year on religious freedom, in order to mark the millennium of the introduction of Christianity to the Kievan Rus. He points to recent announcements by the Czechoslovak leader about his willingness to consider reforms on this issue.
Finnish President Mauno Koivisto invites Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and President George Bush to attend a “summer summit” in Helsinki in May. Bush is asked on the campaign trail whether he will attend and, trusting he will have established a lead in the Republican race by then, he agrees. Vremya announce that they are unable to make the summit that evening, but that the Soviets may reconsider for the following year.
The cruiser USS Yorktown collides with the Soviet coastguard, with the US Navy claiming they were “rammed” at a speed of 20 knots. A large hole is left in the helicopter deck and three of the four Harpoon missile launchers are incapacitated. Both sides admit that the US Navy was in Soviet waters, but the US claims that they were just passing by.
US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Soviet Defence Minister Viktor Kulikov meet in Bern, Switzerland to discuss the creation of a military-to-military dialogue. Kulikov states that the Soviet defence doctrines are “evolving towards a defensive orientation” but tells Cheney that it will be approximately six months before a new policy position is formalised and announced.
The United States and the CSSN agree to open direct flights across the Bering Strait to allow indigenous western Alaskans to establish regular contact with relatives on the other side of the strait.
Returning home from Leningrad, US President George Bush addresses the House of Representatives and states that the world has entered “a world beyond the Cold War, where the United States and the Soviet Commonwealth are working with a common purpose to construct a future in which humanity will never again be held hostage by the darkness”. He talks about “new opportunities for stability and economic development, driven by a momentum for peace” and “rising above parochialism to a universal embrace of the principles of justice”. The speech is remembered for in particular for one line, in which Bush states that there is a prospect of a “novus ordo seclorum, a new order of the ages, for the whole of humankind”.
Soviet Commonwealth President, Mikhail Gorbachev, has an interview with Western television about the recent talks with US President George Bush and the Warsaw Pact review. Among some notable quotes are “even the most professional haters of our nation must now admit that things have changed and changed significantly for the better” and “we are going to do something terrible to the West – we are depriving them of their worst enemy”. He states that the new Soviet doctrine is one of “mutual security and interdependence” and says he would welcome a security agreement with the United States itself. He also says “it is time for both superpowers to replace the penchant for nyet and master the politics of da”.
The new Tupolev Tu-160 bomber is spotted by a US AWACS surveillance plane off the south-western coast of Alaska, the first time the plane has been seen up close by American forces.
A business leaders’ summit in New York tells US Commerce Secretary Barbara Franklin that advances by the Soviets in pharmaceuticals, engineering, atomic research, plastics and food production are not able to be used in the US, due to a restrictive trade policy. Franklin later tells the press that Soviet industry and research has “peaks of startling achievement and troughs of appalling backwardness”. She agrees to a modest increase in high-tech cooperation in order to assist the Soviets in getting their science and technology, “at which they are often quite good”, into “production engineering”.
In a foreign policy speech in US Military Academy, President George Bush defends the return to detente, arguing that Reagan’s policy of containment had forced the change of leadership in the Kremlin. He argued that detente allowed the United States to “reap a potential partnership, rather than rivalry, from the Russians” and to significantly reduce the foreign debt accumulated by the containment policy. He also condemns Iranian actions, stating they are jeopardising the stability of the Persian Gulf region.
It is announced that US First Lady Barbara Bush has invited Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbachyova to the Bush seaside estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, for the Independence Day weekend. The families, excepting the two Presidents, will meet and it will be the first visit by the Gorbachev’s daughter, Irina, and her family to the United States. The action is seen as an endorsement of Gorbachev by the US President in the hope that the Communist Party soviets will elect parliamentary candidates loyal to Gorbachev’s leadership.
Development plans are unveiled for Provideniya in the Soviet Far East after regular flights open from Nome and Anchorage. The first fifty-five visitors bring back Sputnik toothpaste and T-shirts commemorating Lenin, and express surprise that the town’s major news is a celebration of the arrival of its first fax and photocopier.
Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney admits that they have uncovered a Soviet spy ring operating inside Paramax Electronics, a subsidiary of US defence contractor Unisys. He admits that it is probable that the Soviets gained access to highly classified US technology involving radar and sonar capability, and computers that control ship weapon systems. Nine Soviet diplomats and eight other persons are expelled from the country. The Soviets retaliate with the expulsion of two diplomats and cancellation of visas for nine others.
Soviet Defence Minister Viktor Kulikov arrives in Washington to meet with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral William Crowe. He will be permitted to tour the nuclear aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, observe a B-1 bomber and visit Crowe’s ranch in Oklahoma.
A US grand jury investigation commences into the Soviet infiltration of Unisys. Since late June, there have been FBI raids in thirty-six homes across the United States. The offices of nineteen different companies have been searched and individuals subpoenaed from each. It appears as though the Soviets were operating within defence contractors, using them as a backdoor to access Pentagon information and technology worth billions. Attorney General D. Lowell Jensen expresses the belief that a “stream of indictments” will flow from the affair. The official Soviet line is that the program was part of the plans of former KGB Director Viktor Chebrikov and has now been discontinued. US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney criticises the defence companies, stating their failure to diversify has kept down profits and invited corruption.
US Agriculture Secretary Richard Lyng warns that “the Russians are coming”, stating that the Soviets have massively increased their agricultural productivity, meaning that from next year they will not only have the capacity to fully feed their population, but compete with the European Economic Community and the United States for agricultural markets. Taking into account the drought, hot winds and new aphid problems, Lyng predicts the US will lose at least $40 million in agricultural contracts over the next year.
US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chief of Staff William Crowe arrive in Leningrad as part of the military exchange program, the former slipping into the cockpit of the new Soviet bomber, the Tupelov Tu-160. He admits that he is “unable to tell one instrument from another”. He confirms their trip will include a visit to two military barracks and an address to the final year students at the Frunze Military Academy.
Three US inspectors, working at Soviet nuclear test sites in the process of deactivation, are found to have unspecified “sensitive materials” in their personal possession only days before they were due to rotate back to the USA. US Secretary of State James Baker states that the matter is an “innocent misunderstanding”. Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovlev points out that all members of the inspection team had been fully briefed on what items could legitimately be removed from the sites, but agrees that no charges will be pressed provided the individuals concerned are immediately returned home.
The recent US Navy spy scandal is compounded with the defection of US army officer Clyde Conrad and four others, who were reporting to the Hungarian Military Intelligence Services on top secret NATO war plans. CIA Director William Webster admits that the information gained by the Hungarians (and the Soviets) was highly sensitive and appears to have been part of a spy ring operating out of West Germany since 1975.
US President George Bush outlines to the UN General Assembly the need for increased consultation between the Big Five, an increased commitment to the usage of the World Court to resolve disputes and a global conference in 1991 to devise a strategy for protection of the environment. President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Commonwealth has delayed his planned speech until December, stating that he does not want unduly influence the US elections. Instead, he gives an address to the Commonwealth on national television in which relations with the US are the major subject. Samantha Smith is present in the audience and applauds the address. (The contents of the speech are presented at the end of this instalment.)
Soviet and US diplomats sign a protocol allowing for eighty undergraduates from each country to visit the other and participate in university courses. Host schools agree to provide tuition, room and board and a monthly living allowance, with the cost coming to approximately $25,000 per visiting student. One Soviet literature student expresses interest in studying the writings of JD Salinger; another, the history of Native American tribes. The most interesting case turned up by US journalists is a student wishing to study comparisons between the US experience of Vietnam and the Soviet experience of Afghanistan.
A US book is introduced into the Soviet high school literature syllabus for the first time. Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovlev sent out to explain the decision, states that Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia is a visionary text for its idea of a utopian steady state economy and environmentalist protection. He also jokes that context of the book, the creation of a socialist nation-state on the US West Coast, makes it “particularly inspiring for all Soviet readers”.
Soviet envoy and Politburo member Anatoly Dobrynin arrives in Washington for a meeting with US Speaker of the House Tom Foley. He presents a gold medal of the International Lenin Peace Prize to President Ronald Reagan that evening in California, and the two men are comfortably familiar on stage as they recall their stand-offs when Dobrynin was US Ambassador.
Spin Magazine, the Soviet-owned music magazine, comes out with Jon Bon Jovi on the cover and a free condom attached. Some refuse to carry the title, but 7-Eleven stores state that they already sell condoms and are unable to see any difference between that and selling them within a magazine. Conservatives state that this is a new Soviet attack on US morality, while Spin argues freedom of speech and freedom of editorial control.
On election eve, Governor Mario Cuomo states that he will make housing his national infrastructure priority. He calls for the creation of new building cooperatives, which will be backed by the Federal Government for amounts up to $100,000. He also addresses Bush’s perceived advantage, saying that he had a superior field organisation but that the Presidency has become so commercialised that “has to hope that better ads doesn’t mean you are now a better choice for President”. He also expresses the desire that the White House will continue to “unify the American people”, no matter who wins.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declares his endorsement of recent statements by US President George Bush that the world is ready for a “novus ordo seclorum”, a new order of the ages. In a speech to the nation, he predicts that the human race is preparing for an era of sustained peace, non-violence and disarmament.
Nobel Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov arrives in Boston, Massachusetts to meet with family and to attend a foundation meeting later in Washington DC. He declares that there are still restrictions on freedom in the Soviet media and that he is concerned about the distributions of power and lack of diversity within the new Soviet political system.
US entrepreneur Donald Trump and his wife Ivana set out for Leningrad to lead private American support for the victims of the Armenian earthquake. Gorbachev was scheduled to meet with Trump this week regarding creating incentives for increased construction in the Soviet Commonwealth. He states that he needs to be in Leningrad to let the Soviets know “that Americans are pretty good people”.
A Nebraska court finds that Ecstasy tablets recently uncovered by police were manufactured legally in the Soviet Commonwealth. According to Soviet law, which operates a classification system, MDMA is a Category 2 drug, which means it is essentially decriminalised but those found to have large amounts (more than ten days supply for “an average person”) without a license can be charged with trafficking and still face life imprisonment. The US Government requests Leningrad to review the status of MDMA.
The first planeload of US rescue and aid support workers arrives in the Soviet Commonwealth, following up on at least $70 million in US private donations thus far through the International Red Cross. Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov states that the nation has sufficient supplies of antibiotics, syringes and blood supplies and that soldiers have already pulled over two thousand people alive from the rubble. He notes, however, that Azeri rioters have used the absence of federal troops to burn homes belonging to Armenians in the Azeri capital of Baku. He also notes that all newer buildings, some nine storeys high, have survived the quake. President Mikhail Gorbachev warns that the earthquake will increase Soviet demand for imported electronic equipment in the immediate future and warns Azeris that they will receive a “fair reward” for their poor showing.
US President George Bush outlines his plan for a continued “economy of disarmament”, withdrawing troops from Germany and cutting the raw number of recruits in the armed forces to prepare for greater technological spending. He expresses the belief that some of Europe is headed towards neutralism, but states that “our key partnerships will remain in place” outside the European Union defensive alliance and that “the Soviets are moving their forces towards a defensive posture”. He states that plants can now begin the process of being converted from military use to civilian use on the basis of a doctrine that the US should have “reasonable sufficiency” when it comes to balancing the Soviets. He counters the Gorbachev view of a united Europe with “a unified European ideal, one of free markets, free trade and free peoples”.
The Soviet jamming of radio and television transmission from the West will cease from 1 January, it is announced today. At the same time, politicians and officials in the Soviet Commonwealth will be permitted to be interviewed by Soviet media without threat of prosecution or imprisonment, provided they do not breach national security restrictions. After four years of building a modern media conglomerate, with the assistance of US magnate Ted Turner, the Soviets appear to finally feel comfortable with competition.
US President George Bush calls on the Soviets to open up the Krasnoyarsk radar station to international inspectors. Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovlev states that the site is not a military facility and, as such, cannot be related to the ABM Treaty, but that Leningrad would be happy to comply if Soviet inspectors could look at NORAD facilities. Yakovlev denies there is “any question that the Americans will link this matter to continued aid”.
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev meets with Senator Al Gore of Tennessee, a recent Democratic frontrunner, to discuss the creation of a global environmental prize named the Rachel Carson Peace Prize. Gorbachev praises Gore’s awareness of the issue of global warming and states that “effective action to halt massive injury to the Earth environment will require a mobilisation unknown except in wartime”.
A US journalist does a “shopping trip” in Moscow to determine how good access is to consumer goods. She takes a shopping list of six items of 1 kg of apples, a beef roast, a bar of soap, 1 kg of carrots, a tube of toothpaste and 500g of sugar. The total cost is US$15.30 and the whole shopping trip involves four stops and takes an hour (some queues still remain, with toothpaste being the worst). He points out that, other than the one queue, the only clear advantage for American consumers is the centralisation of their shopping centres. He points out the relative availability of previously rare goods, such as cheese, chocolate, coffee, fresh fruit and linen. He expresses concern, however, that Soviet people are eating poorly (about 30% less meat than Western Europeans and about five hundred calories per day less than Americans) and suggests that people may be spending “food money” on new consumer items, like jewelry and videos.
The son of the former Soviet President, Anatoli Gromyko, addresses the annual meeting of the Africa Studies Association in New Jersey. He praises the “remarkable and constructive relationship” between the two superpowers and admits that “the export of a socialist revolution, spreading around the world, was a romantic and somewhat naive view”.
Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovlev arrives in Damascus via Ankara, insisting that his visit is “largely procedural” and has nothing to do with recent tensions between Syria and Iraq. US Secretary of State James Baker, commenting on Yakovlev’s visit, insists it is a “good thing”, provided it helps maintain the peace. However, his insistence that the Soviet Commonwealth should limit its role in the Middle East brings the comment from Yakovlev that “Washington should not inject unnecessary elements of rivalry on such an occasion”.
The Pentagon discovers an inactive computer virus on the Military Command and Control System, the system upon which the US commanders would rely in wartime for information and coordination. According to analysts, it was set up to be triggered by an e-mail message and would have erased everything on the system within hours. Following up on recent bugs on Arpanet, it clearly indicates a comprehensive Soviet hacker intelligence program.
Following an investigation into the Pentagon computer virus, US Secretary of State James Baker announces the expulsion of Soviet military attaché, Colonel Yuri Pakhtusov. Five days later, the Soviets will respond in kind, accusing the US embassy of sending a representative to take photos of military installations.
US President George Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev confirm that they will hold a summit in late May in Helsinki, preceding the UN Conference on Environment and Development to be held in Paris between heads of government the following month. President Bush states that the primary subject of the summit will be trade and whether it is possible to establish a timeline under which economic relations with the Soviet Commonwealth can be normalised.
After five months of flat sales in the US, GAZ strikes a deal with Chrysler that the 1990 US model of Soglas (sold as the Chrysler City) will have electronic fuel injection, fully independent rear suspension and better fuel economy due to a lower hood line. They will also come with finance deals, with interest rates below the major financial institutions. GAZ claims that it has a 20-year plan to have the largest selling vehicle in North America.
Andrei Sakharov arrives in the United States to commence talks with Robert Hirsch about the establishment of a commercial fusion reactor. The media state that there is “fusion fever” as ordinarily cautious scientists begin to express their excitement about the prospect of a new and clean energy source.
US Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney tells a group of party faithful that he expects there will be ultimately be a backlash in the Soviet Commonwealth against reform, leading to the removal of Gorbachev and the rise of an anti-Western leader. When the comment leaks, Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovlev states Cheney is “incompetent” and “cannot be taken with any degree of seriousness”.
Interfering in the ongoing beef war between the United States and the European Economic Community, the Soviet Trade Minister, Nikolai Slyunkov, produces his department’s own four-year study into the use of hormones in beef. It concludes that two of the hormone products classified as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration are “hazardously carcinogenic”, but concludes that the remainder have no “immediately obvious threat to consumer safety”. US Trade Representative Lynn Martin states that she will closely examine the report prior to any response.
US Commerce Secretary John Sununu announces that he will sign a $120 million trade deal with the Soviet Commonwealth for soybean products, stating that it shows the United States has demonstrated that it is competitive with previous supplier, Brazil.
US television declares “The Puppy Presidency is Over” as rumours intensify that the Bush Administration is preparing to make a significant move in relation to Guyana. President Bush states that it is a matter for the people of Guyana to decide and calls attention to his upcoming summit with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. He states that the START bilateral agreement will eliminate eighty percent of the world’s nuclear weapons before the end of the century and will maintain that threshold until at least 2007. He states that President Gorbachev has agreed to discuss a complete ban on MIRVs, with a treaty to go into effect by 1991 and to be complete by 2004.
US President George Bush, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and General Secretary Zhao Ziyang of the PRC are pictured sitting front of the Naval Academy at the beginning of the Suomenlinna Summit. Inevitable comparison is drawn to a similar photo from Yalta, showing Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. There is the usual media spin, trips to the opera and laying wreaths at monuments, but there is clear warmth between the three men.
The Soviet Commonwealth and the United States sign an agreement calling for a ban on drift net fishing, with strong support from Canada, who is concerned about Japanese exploitation of fisheries in the northern Pacific Ocean. There have been strong indicators of declining salmon and tuna stocks and it is estimated that Japan, with over nine hundred drift nets in operation, is inflicting irreparable damage in coastal regions.
US President George Bush describes his talks with General Secretary Zhao Ziyang and President Mikhail Gorbachev as “just extraordinary”. Gorbachev expresses the belief that “the coming month will be remembered as the most momentous in the late 20th century”. Zhao states it is the “beginning of an epoch of transformations”. The three men have apparently discussed today the creation of a pair of orbital space platforms, the first to be launched in 1996, which will monitor global warming, winds, atmospheric chemistry and deforestation. The estimated cost of the project is $2 billion per annum, with the United States agreeing to meet half that cost.