Soviet-West European Relations

Recent Trends and Near-Term Prospects

by Alan Platt

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This report examines key recent developments and trends in Western Europe, with an emphasis on the past two years, as a backdrop to an analysis of present and prospective Soviet relations with the West. It identifies five possible Soviet policy options toward Western Europe in the near and the medium term: (1) continuation of the kind of wedge-driving policy it used during much of 1983; (2) a differentiated policy of better relations with the United States, and cool relations with Western Europe; (3) a policy of defiance toward the West; (4) pursuit of a broad-based neo-detente relationship with both Western Europe and the United States; and (5) a purposefully confrontational policy toward the West. The author suggests that three considerations will be central to the Soviet Union in determining which policy it pursues: (1) the possibility of gaining new concessions from the United States through the continued pursuit of its present policy course; (2) the degree of continued Atlantic Alliance unity over defense and arms control policies; and (3) the electoral prospects of anti-nuclear opposition parties in Western Europe in the late 1980s. In any case, the Soviet Union will not abandon its fundamental objectives in Europe.

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