The high point of the Brezhnev era was the signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975, in which the US recognised the postwar frontiers in allied Warsaw Pact states in eastern and central Europe. In exchange, the Soviet Union agreed that "participating States will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought and religion, for all without distinction." But these undertakings were eschewed, and political opposition to the détente process mounted in the US as optimistic rhetoric about the "relaxation of tensions" did not appear to be matched by any domestic reforms. The issue of the right to emigrate for Soviet Jews led to the cooling of Soviet-US relations.             In the 1970s, the Soviet Union reached the peak of its political and strategic power in relation to the US in its “Great Leap Outward.” The SALT I treaty effectively established parity in nuclear weapons between the two superpowers, the Helsinki Accords cemented a Soviet suzerainty over eastern Europe, and the US defeat in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal weakened American prestige. Under Admiral Sergei Gorshkov, the Soviet Union also became a global naval power for the first time. With help from ally Cuba, the Soviets used their military might to sway conflicts in Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan.            Both Soviet power internationally and Brezhnev's power domestically, however, rested on a Soviet economy which was becoming stagnant, slowing down around 1970. There were two fundamental causes for this. First, the Soviet economy, despite Stalin's industrialisation, was still heavily dependent on agriculture. Stalin's collectivisation of agriculture had effectively destroyed the independent peasantry of the country, and agricultural productivity remained low despite massive state investment. Soviet agriculture increasingly could not feed the urban population, let alone provide for the rising standard of living which the regime promised as the fruits of "mature socialism," and on which industrial productivity depended. The response was a huge "informal economy" to provide a market for limited consumer goods and services. This fostered corruption on an increased scale by Soviet standards, something which had been unknown in the country in the earlier periods.

Question #0005

1.      The following are examples of the “Great Leap Outward” presented in the passage (line 23): I.                   Helsinki AccordsII.                Soviet intervention in AngolaIII.             Vietnam War  


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