Trends in U.S.-Soviet Relations

May 25, 1973

Report Outline
Growth of Washington-Moscow Ties
Postwar Relations of the Superpowers
Outlook for Further Reconciliation
Special Focus

Growth of Washington-Moscow Ties

New Mood of Detente Preceding Brezhnev Visit

Soviet-American relations are more cordial today than they have been for nearly three decades. And they promise to become warmer still with the visit of Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev to Washington, June 18–26. The two superpowers have moved significantly to control the nuclear arms race and reduce tensions between them in various parts of the world. They have agreed to seek more trade and cultural and scientific contacts with each other. Yet a chasm remains between them in general outlook and ideology. Undercurrents of suspicion linger and diplomacy on both sides is marked by caution—though a caution tempered by pragmatism and mutual needs.

President Nixon and Brezhnev, Secretary General of the Soviet Communist Party, both have committed their governments to a policy of step-by-step reconciliation between the two countries. Any setback toward this goal would be a setback to the prestige of each in his own nation. Conversely, for the President, new triumphs in foreign policy would help to divert attention from problems at home created by the Watergate scandal. On Brezhnev's part, more Soviet trade with the United States is considered essential to the fulfillment of rising economic expectations among the Russian people.

For these and other reasons, foreign-affairs experts believe the current detente has a greater chance of survival than did any of the previous attempts to reduce Cold War tensions. The foundation of their optimism is the Soviet achievement of a rough “parity” with the United States in the destructive capability of the Russian nuclear arsenal. Analysts think this has helped moderate the traditional hostility of Soviet diplomacy toward the West.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S.-Soviet Relations
Sep. 14, 1990  The Western Alliance After the Cold War
Feb. 10, 1989  Soviet Trade: In America's Best Interest?
Nov. 01, 1985  U.S.-Soviet Summitry
Jul. 09, 1982  Controlling Scientific Information
May 25, 1973  Trends in U.S.-Soviet Relations
Apr. 05, 1972  Russia's Diplomatic Offensive
Feb. 09, 1972  Trading with Communist Nations
Mar. 10, 1971  Indian Ocean Policy
Apr. 21, 1965  Negotiations with Communists
Nov. 13, 1963  Scientific Cooperation with the Soviet Union
Oct. 03, 1963  Trade with the Communists
Sep. 11, 1963  Non-Aggression Pacts and Surprise Attack
Oct. 11, 1961  East-West Negotiations
Mar. 29, 1961  Russia and United Nations
Aug. 10, 1960  Challenged Monroe Doctrine
Sep. 02, 1959  American-Soviet Trade
Jul. 03, 1959  Cultural Exchanges with Soviet Russia
Aug. 11, 1958  Conference Diplomacy
Jul. 23, 1958  Limited War
May 14, 1958  Cold War Propaganda
Feb. 26, 1958  Military Disengagement
Feb. 20, 1957  Indirect Aggression
Jul. 25, 1956  Trading with Communists
Jan. 11, 1956  Economic Cold War
Nov. 26, 1954  Peaceful Coexistence
Dec. 01, 1953  Tests of Allied Unity
Sep. 18, 1953  Negotiating with the Reds
Jun. 17, 1953  East-West Trade
Apr. 12, 1951  Non-Military Weapons in Cold-War Offensive
Apr. 20, 1949  Mediterranean Pact and Near East Security
Apr. 28, 1948  Trade with Russia
Sep. 11, 1946  Loyalty in Government
Jul. 31, 1946  Arctic Defenses
Apr. 01, 1943  American and British Relations with Russia
Feb. 24, 1933  Soviet-American Political and Trade Relations
Nov. 03, 1931  Russian-American Relations
Feb. 14, 1924  Russian Trade with the United States
International Law and Agreements
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
U.S. at War: Cold War