Did Star Wars Help End the Cold War? Soviet Response to the SDI Program

Pavel Podvig, "Did Star Wars Help End the Cold War? Soviet Response to the SDI Program," Science & Global Security 25, no. 1 (2017): 3-27

The Strategic Defense Initiative was a U.S. missile defense program that played a very prominent role in the U.S.-Soviet relationships in the 1980s and is often credited with helping end the Cold War, as it presented the Soviet Union with a technological challenge that it could not meet. This article introduces several official Soviet documents to examine Soviet response to SDI. The evidence suggests that although the Soviet Union expressed serious concerns about U.S. missile defense program, SDI was not a decisive factor in advancing arms control negotiations. Instead, the program seriously complicated U.S.-Soviet arms control process. SDI also failed to dissuade the Soviet Union from investing in development of ballistic missiles. The Soviet Union quickly identified ways to avoid a technological arms race with the United States and focused on development of advanced missiles and anti-satellite systems to counter missile defenses. Some of these programs have been preserved to the current day.

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