Joint Declaration at U.S.–Russian Summit Primary Source eText

Primary Source

(American Decades Primary Sources: 1990-1999)

Four months after a February 1992 U.S.–Russian summit at Camp David, U.S. president George Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a landmark agreement to destroy thousands of nuclear weapons. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS. REPRODUCED BY PERMISSION. Four months after a February 1992 U.S.–Russian summit at Camp David, U.S. president George Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a landmark agreement to destroy thousands of nuclear weapons. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS. REPRODUCED BY PERMISSION. Published by Gale Cengage AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS. REPRODUCED BY PERMISSION.


By: George H.W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin

Date: February 1, 1992

Source: Bush, George H.W., and Boris Yeltsin. Joint Declaration at U.S.–Russian Summit. February 1, 1992. Reprinted in the NATO-Russia Archive: U.S.-Russia Relations. Available online at (accessed July 18, 2003).

About the Authors: George H.W. Bush (1924–) was born in Milton, Massachusetts. On his eighteenth birthday, Bush enlisted in the U.S. Navy. During World War II (1939–1945), he flew fifty-eight combat missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. After graduating from Yale University in 1948, Bush entered the Texas oil business. Later, he served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and vice president and then president of the United States (served 1989–1993).


In 1991 the Cold War came to a symbolic end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Cold War was more of a conflict over two competing political ideologies—democracy and communism—than a military conflict in the conventional sense. After World War II (1939–1945) Western democracies led by the United States competed with a bloc of Eastern communist nations for international influence. The nations involved tried to promote their system of government in the international arena. Although there was no single, direct, and definitive military conflict that characterized the Cold War, the ideological war dominated international affairs for decades and ignited moments of intense international crisis.

During World War II the United States and the Soviet Union allied to defeat a common enemy to rid the world of Nazi fascism. Tensions, however, emerged between the two shortly after the war over how to divide conquered Germany. This marked the beginning of the Cold War. The nations decided to divide Germany into Eastern and Western halves, and the country later became officially divided into two nations, while a wall was erected to separate the city of Berlin into Eastern and Western zones. In 1949 the United States created a military alliance among Western democracies called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) whose purpose was to defend Europe against the spread of communism. The Soviet Union responded in 1955 by forming a military alliance of its own with Eastern European countries, called the Warsaw Pact.

One of the most notable events of the Cold War came in 1962 when the Soviet Union attempted to erect a nuclear missile launch site in Cuba, a mere ninety miles from U.S. soil. The ensuing standoff between U.S. president John F. Kennedy (served 1961–1963) and Soviet prime minister Nikita Khrushchev, known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, brought the world the closest it had ever been to nuclear war. President Kennedy delivered a chilling speech to the American public and explained that his response was to order a military blockade to prevent the Soviets from delivering further supplies to Cuba. Khrushchev eventually ordered the dismantling of the missile base but not before receiving assurances from the United Sates that it would not invade Cuba.

From the end of World War II until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Cold War was the central issue around which U.S. foreign policy was drafted. The Korean and Vietnam wars were, in large part, extensions of the Cold War. The United States became involved in these conflicts in an effort to stop the spread of communism in Asia. Under the administration of Jimmy Carter (served 1977–1981), efforts were made to ease Cold War tensions. Carter formally recognized communist China and, although it ultimately failed in Congress, he proposed an arms-limitation agreement with the Soviet Union.

Under the administration of Ronald Reagan (served 1981–1989) the United States and Soviet Union accelerated defense spending, building enormous nuclear arsenals. The notion of "mutually assured destruction" which described each country's ability to destroy the other in the event of a nuclear attack, ironically reduced the chances of war. It was not until the latter part of Reagan's second term in office that the United States and Soviet Union began thawing Cold War tensions. Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), designed to reduce both nation's reserve of nuclear weapons. In addition, Gorbachev began introducing democratic institutions into society, a clear signal that the Cold War was coming to an end. He began to restructure the economy (perestroika) and promote political openness (glasnost) . Gorbachev's reforms, however, were not enough for his increasingly discontent public and in 1991 he was replaced by Boris Yeltsin in Russia's first direct presidential election. Later that year, Yeltsin announced the end

of the Soviet Union and drafted a constitution for the new Commonwealth of Independent States.


The sudden collapse of the Soviet Union marked the end of the Cold War. For more than forty years, the United States fought an ideological battle with the Soviet Union that resulted in many indirect conflicts as both sides fought to have the greater number of countries on their side. For generations, Americans endured fear of nuclear annihilation, and taxpayers spent approximately $4 trillion on developing nuclear weapons. In June 1992, in an historical agreement, Yeltsin pledged to give up all Russian landbased MIRV missiles and to deactivate all missiles aimed at the United States. Members of NATO returned the gesture of goodwill by announcing a 50 percent troop reduction and signing non-aggression pacts with former communist nations of Eastern Europe. Measures like these helped solidify the symbolic end of the Cold War—the tearing down of the Berlin Wall—and resulted in an official declaration of the end of the adversarial relationship between the United States and former Soviet Union, signed by U.S. president George H.W. Bush (served 1989–1993) and Russian president Boris Yeltsin.

Primary Source: Joint Declaration at U.S.-Russian Summit

SYNOPSIS: In February 1992, U.S. president George H.W. Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin met at Camp David at a U.S.–Russian Summit and issued a Joint Declaration. In this historic declaration, Russia and the United States agreed to not regard each other as potential adversaries. Further, the two agreed that their future relationship would be based on "mutual trust and a respect and a common commitment to democracy and economic freedom."

At the conclusion of this meeting between an American president and the president of a new and democratic Russia, we, the leaders of two great peoples and nations, are agreed that a number of principles should guide relations between Russia and America.

  1. Russia and the United States do not regard each other as potential adversaries. From now on the relationship will be characterized by friendship and partnership founded on mutual trust and respect and a common commitment to democracy and economic freedom.
  2. We will work to remove any remnants of cold war hostility, including taking steps to reduce our strategic arsenals.
  3. We will do all we can to promote a mutual well-being of our peoples and to expand as widely as possible the ties that now bind our peoples. Openness and tolerance should be the hallmark of relations between our peoples and governments.
  4. We will actively promote free trade, investment and economic cooperation between our two countries.
  5. We will make every effort to support the promotion of our shared values for democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, including minority rights, respect for borders and peaceful change around the globe.
  6. We will work actively together to:
    • Prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated technology, and curb the spread of advanced conventional arms on the basis of principles to be agreed upon.
    • Settle regional conflicts peacefully.
    • Counter terrorism, halt drug trafficking and forestall environmental degradation.

In adopting these principles, the United States and Russia today launch a new era in our relationship. In this new era, we seek a peace, and enduring peace that rests on lasting common values. This can be an era of peace and friendship that offers hope not only to our peoples, but to the peoples of the world.

For a while our conflicts helped divide the world for a generation. Now, working with others and with each other, we can help unite the globe through our friendship—a new alliance of partners working against the common dangers we face.

Further Resources


Beschloss, Michael, and Strobe Talbott. At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993

Odom, William E. The Collapse of the Soviet Military. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998.

Schweizer, Peter. Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism. New York: Doubleday, 2002.


D'Souza, Dinesh. "How Reagan Won the Cold War: Ronald Reagan Came to the Presidency Without Foreign-Policy Credentials, but his Victory in the Cold War was not a Lucky Accident." National Review, November 24, 1997, 35–41.

"The Last Cold War President." The New York Times, December 15, 1992, A22.


"Cold War." CNN Interactive. Available online at; website home page (accessed April 4, 2003).

"Cold War International History Project." The National Security Archive at George Washington University. Available online at (accessed April 4, 2003).