The Soviet Union's Strategic and Military Stakes in the GDR

by Thomas W. Wolfe

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Comments on the postwar Soviet military position in Europe, particularly concerning the German Democratic Republic. This paper suggests strategic factors that may contribute to changes in Soviet thinking on the need for stationing of sizable theater force elements in East Germany: (1) The USSR appears anxious in the aftermath of the Czechoslovak episode to work out new pan-European security agreements. (2) The cost of maintaining a military standoff in Europe could be lowered by mutual troop reductions, an attractive consideration for the USSR leaders when investment resources are being sought for the current Five Year Plan. (3) Mutual reduction of Soviet and U.S. forces in Europe would be advantageous for the USSR, both because of its geographic proximity and because withdrawal of U.S. forces would mean depriving NATO of the most important factor holding it together. Kremlin leaders must now decide whether "European division equals Soviet security" is still the best Soviet policy.

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