Why did the Cold War end?

  • John Paul II's visit to Poland

    His visit ignited a sense of religious nationalism among the Poles, which contradicted the whole idea of communism which does not encompass the idea of religion.
    Hence, it undermined the Communist influence in Eastern Europe and would later give rise to other events, such as the winning of the Polish elections by Solidarity.
  • Period: to

    End of Cold War & Fall of the USSR

  • (Day unknown) Start of Reagan's military build up

    Included 2 strategic eapons inherited from the Carter administration which had the ability to strike the Soviet ground-based missile force.
    Also increased funds for navy buildup (600-ship navy) and the Strategic Defense Initiative.
  • Martial laws in Poland lifted

  • Gorbachev came into power

    Also unilaterally announced a temporary mortation on nuclear testing and challenging the US to follow suit.
    Brought with him a different set of thinking as compared to previous Soviet leaders, and launched perestroika and glasnost.
    This contributed to the fall of the USSR which ended the Cold War in terms of superpower rivalry.
  • Changes in foreign minister

    Gorbachev replaced hardliner Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko with reformist party leader from Georgia, Edward Shevardnadze.
    This indicated a shift in Soviet stance and hence not only contributed to the August Coup in 1991 (which led to the fall of the USSR) where the hardliners were unhappy with Gorbachev, but also facilitated diplomacy between the 2 superpowers.
  • Reykjyavik Summit

    Showed Gorbachev's willingness to end the nuclear arms race when he accepted Reagan's 'zero option plan' and even proposed an abolishment of all nuclear weapons within ten years.
    This further contributed to the impending End of Cold War as defined by a nuclear arms race.
  • INF Treaty

    Dramatic assymetrical reduction of theatre nuclear weapons which was unequal for the USSR: further contributed to the impending End of Cold War as defined by a nuclear arms race.
  • Replacement of old rubber stamp

    Supreme Soviet ('old rubber stamp') was replaced by a new Congress of People's Deputies, where 2/3 of the member would be chosen through direct election.
  • Gorbachev's speech at the UN

    Gorbachev announced that for the USSR, international relations would now be 'free of ideology'.
    Hence this marked the end of the Cold War as defined by an ideological conflict.
    Also indicated to the Eastern Europeans that the USSR was now willing to let go of the vast control they once held, and this angered the hardliners who had worked hard for the buffer states, and this anger gave rise to the support needed for the 1991 August Coup, which signalled the end of the USSR.
  • (unsure of day and month) Sinatra Doctrine.

    Allowed the countries in the Soviet sphere to now determine thier own internal affairs: Further increased separatist movements which angered the hardliners and hence contributed to the 1991 August coup.
  • Solidarity wins Polish elections

    Not only did it signal the end of the Cold War as defined by a division within Europe, it contributed to a chain effect whereby other buffer states felt that they had more sovereignty and less Soviet control.
    This hence was the spark needed for the Eastern European states to begin their separatist and nationalistic sentiments and it only worsened, weakening the Soviet sphere of influence and hence contributing to the fall of the USSR.
  • Fall of Berlin Wall

    It also marked the end of the Cold War, as defined by a division in Europe.
    However, the winning of the Polish elections by Solidarity could have said to have sparked this reaction among the other Eastern European states. The Berlin Wall was however a clear indication of the division within Europe, and hence the fall of the Berlin Wall held a symbolic meaning.
  • Drafting of Union Treaty

    It was supposed to give more autonomy to the Soviet republics, and also represents Gorbachev's desperation at keeping the USSR together after seeing all the secessionist tendencies.
  • Signing of the CFE Treaty

    Established a balance of conventional forces in Europe by prescribing substantial reductions in Soviet conventional weapons, but also signalled the end of the Cold War as the two superpower rivals were now both agreeble to reducing the size of their arsenals of conventional arms.
  • Total military withdrawal from

    ... Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
    Signalled the death knell of the USSR's hegemony in Eastern Europe.
  • Yeltsin's official rise of influence

    Yeltsin was elected president of the enormous Russian Republic by popular vote and this gave him a greater claim to political legitimacy than even Gorbachev had.
  • August Coup

    Various policies such as glasnost and perestroika, as well as the Union Treaty signalled to the hardliners that Gorbachev had planned to replace them with liberal supporters of the new concessions to the republics.
    This also damaged Gorbachev's credibility beyond repair.