New Defensive Thinking in the Soviet Union, 1986–89

  • Geoffrey Wiseman
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


This chapter examines the rise of defensive thinking in the USSR under Gorbachev during 1986–89. In doing so, it considers three main propositions: that Western-originated thinking on non-provocative defence influenced NATO only through its influence on the Soviet Union; that new thinking in the Soviet Union owed much to non-official Western influences but largely legitimised itself by drawing on the Soviet past; and that Western offensive policies may have facilitated the emergence of Soviet defensive policies. After briefly reviewing earlier Soviet defensive thinking, I discuss the main claims of the new Soviet thinking under Gorbachev, examining evidence of a shift towards defensive doctrine after 1986. I then consider Soviet defensive advocates’ main assumptions and modes of discourse, concluding by considering how the Soviet defensive debate may have contributed to ending the Cold War.


Policy Entrepreneur Soviet Leadership Nuclear Deterrence Warsaw Pact Strategic Defence Initiative 
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Copyright information

© Geoffrey Wiseman 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Wiseman
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International RelationsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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