Primary Sources

Report on the future of the Soviet Military in Eastern Europe


In May 1988, Georgi Shakhnazarov, an adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev and a champion of reform in the Soviet Union, responded to a report by Marshal Viktor G. Kulikov, the commander-in-chief of Warsaw Pact forces. In his comments, Shakhnazarov delineated in detail the problems with Kulikov's report, namely, his plan to continue building up the military even following the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in 1987, an attempt on the part of both leaders to some disarmament. Kulikov, as this document suggests, favored continued militarization, while Stakhnazarov argued for reform in military measures. Some Soviet officials, like Kulikov, tried to hold onto Cold War tactics, while others, like Shakhnazarov, moved toward a relaxation in U.S.-Soviet relations.


Georgi Shakhnazarov, "Comments on the report of V.G. Kulikov at the Conference of the Political Consultation Committee of the Warsaw Treaty," May 25 1988, in G.Kh. Shakhnazarov, The Price of Freedom, trans. Vladislav Zubok, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

1. ... [Kulikov] attempts to prove a thesis that, despite the INF Agreement, war danger in Europe will not decrease, but, in fact, will increase. Arguments brought to prove this thought are not convincing. Meanwhile it effectively justifies a program of reactive [otvetnogo] increase of our military power. When planning rearmament of all branches of military forces, [the military] does not provide data about resources that this would require, although the list alone makes it clear that military expenditures would not go down, but would significantly go up. And this is proposed when the process of disarmament has begun and, in particular, the prospect of talks and achievement of an agreement on conventional arms reductions and military forces in Europe is getting brighter.

... Military expenditures in Eastern Europe (although according to Western data) per capita are twice as high as in the majority of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] countries. Our friends understandably cannot afford to carry this burden any further, all the more so under conditions of a pre-crisis economic situation in almost every [East European] country. What is more profitable for us: that they continue their armament and march toward economic disaster or, on the contrary, that they spare on military expenditures and improve their economic situation, reinforcing de facto the security of the commonwealth?

... overall the report speaks not about a reduction of military efforts, but, on the contrary, their intensification. It would not be at all surprising that even if the report of the Commander-in-Chief does not leak to the West (and in present circumstances in the WTO [Warsaw Treaty Organization] such leaks cannot be excluded), the West were able easily to conclude on the basis of the facts and those measures for a build-up that would be implemented that in reality we do not want to disarm—moreover, we do not even want to lower the level of armed confrontation.

How to Cite this Source

Georgi Shakhnazarov, "Report on the future of the Soviet Military in Eastern Europe," Making the History of 1989, Item #156, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:27 pm).

Associated Files