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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

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