Arms Reduction in Eastern Europe
Once in power, Mikhail Gorbachev began a reform process that followed two paths: perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost' (openness). In order to reform the Soviet economy, Gorbachev believed it was necessary to cut spending on the Soviet military, both inside Soviet borders and throughout Eastern Europe. In both 1986 and 1987, Gorbachev proposed army reductions in summit meetings with President Reagan; however, the U.S. was uninterested in reducing the size of its armed forces. Having failed to find any U.S. support for decreasing the size of the army, Gorbachev began unilateral reductions in mid-1988. By the end of 1989, 500,000 men had been decommissioned from the Soviet army, greatly reducing its military presence throughout Eastern Europe. In this CIA graph from 1990, the reductions of Soviet armed forces in each country are enumerated. This graph provided substantial evidence that the Soviet intention to let Eastern Europe find its own path without Soviet interference was more than rhetoric.
National Intelligence Council, "The Direction of Change in the Warsaw Pact Soviet Union," April 1990, table 1, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).