Primary Sources

Arms Reductions and the Warsaw Pact


The Warsaw Pact was based around the principle of cooperation and mutual assistance for its member states, though primarily it was a military alliance led by the Soviet Union. Therefore, Mikhail Gorbachev's arms reduction plan affected all of the member states of the Warsaw Pact by reducing all of the men under arms in Eastern Europe. In this meeting from July 1988, the Defense Ministers of the Warsaw Pact discussed both the actual reduction of troops and the equally important concern about how this reduction would be perceived by NATO. While Gorbachev may have expected the arms reduction to assist the stagnating Soviet economy by reducing their expenses, the Warsaw Pact leadership began planning for a new wave of improved weapons that could compete technologically with the West. They planned for a smaller, more advanced army in Eastern Europe. Rather than diminishing Cold War hostilities, the Warsaw Pact worried an arms reduction might create a new arms race.


"Summary of Discussion among Defense Ministers at the Political Consultative Committee Meeting in Warsaw, 15 July 1988," Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

The first speaker, Comrade Minister [Dmitrii] Iazov, explained that the forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact are more or less evenly balanced. The number of persons is approximately equal. The Warsaw Pact has about 30,000 more tanks, but the NATO tanks are of better quality. The Warsaw Pact has more launch pads for non-nuclear tactical missiles. Also, as regards artillery, the relation is about 1.2:1. But the USA has more aircraft. Their superiority in helicopters and anti-tank weapons balances out our superiority in tanks and artillery. However, the Americans put quantity first. Neither side is in a position to begin an attack without major regrouping &hellip

Army General [Anatolii] Gribkov pointed out once again that the data to be publicized are total figures and not information according to theaters of war and countries. The operational plans must be reworked on the basis of the commitments made in connection with the Military Doctrine of the member-states of the Warsaw Pact on the agreed-upon dates. A change in organizational structures should only be undertaken gradually &hellip The leading role should be played by the USSR, since it assesses these questions on a global scale. But each country must make its contribution. The propaganda machine must be prepared for the publication, to prevent the opponent from exploiting our figures for a new round of the arms race. The question of the technical equipment of the allied armies is a problem of quality. Therefore, parity must be reached in the area of the quality of military technology.

How to Cite this Source

The Warsaw Pact, "Arms Reductions and the Warsaw Pact," Making the History of 1989, Item #158, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:27 pm).

Associated Files