The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War

By Raymond L. Garthoff | Go to book overview

3 Renewed Dialogue Yields to New Tensions, 1983

IN HISBRIEF remarks at the special Central Committee plenum in November 1982 that elected him the new general secretary of the party succeeding Brezhnev, Yury Andropov deferred to military concerns. 'We know well," he said, "that peace with the imperialists is not for the asking. It can be safeguarded only by relying on the invincible might of the Soviet Armed Forces." He praised Brezhnev as "leader of the party and state, and Chairman of the Defense Council of the USSR" in ensuring that "the defense capability of the country would be up to contemporary requirements."1 At the same time, by this very device, he reminded all that as the new leader of the party and state and chairman of the Defense Council he was now principally responsible for determining what was needed to meet such requirements.2

A joint statement by the Central Committee, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and the Council of Ministers issued after the announcement of Brezhnev's death paraphrased Brezhnev's remarks of November 7, blaming the difficult international situation on "the attempts of aggressive circles of imperialism to undermine peaceful coexistence, to push peoples onto a course of enmity and military confrontation. But that cannot shake our determination to defend peace." As Brezhnev had, the statement stressed deterrence through the maintenance of capability for a crushing retaliatory strike and the continuation of a "struggle for détente and for disarrnament."3

____________________
1
Speech of Comrade Yu. V. Andropov to the Plenum of the CC of the CPSU, November 12, 1982, Kommunist (Communist), no. 17 ( November 1982), p. 7.
2
Although not announced, when Andropov became general secretary of the party he also became chairman of the Defense Council and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Information from a knowledgeable member of the Central Committee.
3
Address by the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and the Council of Ministers of the USSR to the Communist Party and to the Soviet People, Kommunist, no. 17 ( November 1982), pp. 4-5.

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