While the Cold War was often characterized as a period of confrontations and competitions between the United States and the Soviet Union, there were times when both sides cooperated on various issues.
In the 1970s, a policy of détente, or a relaxation of tensions, was followed by both countries. To some degree, the growing friendship between the United States and Communist China helped promote better relations with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was concerned we would be more friendly with the Chinese Communists than we would be with them. There were a series of meetings involving our presidents in the 1970s with Soviet Premier Brezhnev. These meetings culminated in agreements to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons each country possessed. There were two agreements to reduce the number of strategic weapons both countries possessed. These agreements were called SALT I and SALT II. However, the Senate never ratified the SALT II agreement.
In the 1980s, President Reagan became very friendly with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Both men met several times resulting in agreements to further reduce the weapons each country had. As a result of our improved relations with the Soviet Union and as a result of President Reagan’s friendship with Premier Gorbachev, President Reagan encouraged Premier Gorbachev to make a series of reforms to change the Soviet economy and to give people more political freedom. Eventually, these reforms were made. The Soviet Union split into independent republics. Communism came to an end, as did the Cold War in 1991.