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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XIII, Soviet Union, October 1970–October 1971

David C. Geyer
General Editor:
Edward C. Keefer

United States Government Printing Office

Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs


This volume continues the practice established in the previous Foreign Relations volume on U.S.-Soviet relations and focuses on the relationship in the global context, highlighting the conflicts and collaboration between the two superpowers on foreign policy issues from October 1970 to October 1971. Beginning with the confrontation over the construction of a Soviet military base in Cuba, the volume documents the development of the Nixon administration’s policy of détente and the crucial role of the private channel between Henry Kissinger, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. The backchannel was key to making progress on the most problematic issues in U.S.-Soviet relations: Berlin, the war in Indochina, strategic arms limitation talks, Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, and trade. It also allowed the two nations to avoid conflict and to cooperate on managing crises around the world, such as the Middle East dispute and the Indo-Pakistani conflict.

The Nixon administration’s opening to China, beginning with Kissinger’s secret trip to Beijing in July 1971 and the subsequent announcement of Nixon’s visit to China, was a policy decision that required careful handling in the context of U.S.-Soviet relations. This volume documents the discussions within the administration of the impact on the relationship of the initiative, as well as Kissinger’s management of that impact in his discussions with Dobrynin.

As Kissinger’s prestige and importance to the superpower relationship grew, the Department of State was increasingly sidelined in the formulation and execution of U.S. policy in significant foreign affairs issues. The discussions between Nixon and Kissinger, many captured in Presidential tape recordings, on how to handle Secretary of State William Rogers’s attempts to reassert the Department’s authority are among the documents in the volume.

The volume also includes documentation on the internal and bilateral negotiations for the timing of a visit by Nixon to the Soviet Union and ends with the public announcement in October 1971 of the May 1972 summit between Nixon and Brezhnev, the first U.S.-Soviet summit since 1967. The era of détente and cooperation between the superpowers had begun.