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The Cold War Thaws

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Soviet Policy in Eastern Europe and China

Nikita Khrushchev became the Soviet leader after Stalin died in 1953. Krushchev began a process of destalinization. This meant getting rid of Stalin's memory. Krushchev also believed that the Soviet Union should have peaceful competition with the capitalist nations.

In Eastern Europe, many people still resented Soviet rule. Eastern Europeans took part in protest movements against Soviet control. In 1956, protesters and the army overthrew the Communist government of Hungary. Khrushchev sent Soviet tanks to put the Communists back in power. In 1964, Leonid Brezhnev replaced Krushchev. When Czechoslovakians began to reform their Communist government in 1968, Brezhnev sent in tanks to stop them.

The Soviets did not have the same control over their larger neighbor, China. Although the Soviet Union and China enjoyed friendly relations at first, they gradually grew apart. The split became so wide that the Soviet Union and China sometimes fought along their border. The two nations now have a peaceful relationship.

How did the Soviets keep control over Eastern Europe?
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From Brinkmanship to Détente; The Collapse of Détente

Tensions between the Soviets and the United States had been very high during the presidency of John F. Kennedy. They remained high during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. The war in Vietnam helped keep relations tense.

In the early 1970s, the United States began to follow a policy called détente under President Richard M. Nixon. Détente was a policy of lowering tensions between the superpowers. Nixon made visits to both Communist China and the Soviet Union. In 1972, he and Brezhnev held meetings called the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT). They signed a treaty to limit the number of nuclear missiles each country could have.

The United States retreated from détente when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. In 1981, Ronald Reagan, a fierce anti-Communist, became president. He proposed a costly anti-missile defense system to protect America against Soviet missiles. It was never put into effect. But it remained a symbol of U.S. anti-Communist feelings.

The Soviets grew angry over American support for the rebels fighting against the Communists in Nicaragua. Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union increased until 1985 when a new leader came to power in the Soviet Union.

Describe the changing tensions between the United States and the Soviet.
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