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Posted on Feb 17, 2019

The Baltic Question and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Una Bergmane is a Baltic Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and a London School of Economics Fellow in Cold War History. She holds a PhD from Sciences Po Paris with highest distinction. Una received a 2018 Emerging Scholar Award to conduct research for her book project at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

The aim of this trip was to conduct research for my book project “The Politics of Uncertainty: the US, the Baltic Question, and Collapse of the Soviet Union” based on my doctoral dissertation. My first objective for the current trip was to gather material that would provide the overall picture of the US attitudes toward the Soviet disintegration process, thus allowing to contextualize the US reactions to the Baltic claims for independence. Previously declassified documents from collections such as Records on the Dissolution of the Soviet Union and Records on U.S. Policy Toward Post-Coup Soviet Union/Former Soviet Republics provided very interesting information. Policy papers gave useful insights into the debates inside the US Administration regarding the US policy facing the turmoil in the USSR.

Most importantly, I spent several days researching the collection of National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft that has been declassified a couple of years ago and that I have not been able to see before. It turns out to be an amazing material. First and foremost, I found a transcript of George Bush conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev during the Washington summit of 1990. This was a crucial finding for my research as I had been looking for this document for several years. Second, the Scowcroft collection also contained extremely interesting transcripts of a conversation between Secretary Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze. Finally, the collection contained a series of very useful policy papers from the NSC staff.

My current visit at the College Station was the concluding trip for the research that I have done on the international reactions to the Baltic claims for independence at the end of the Cold War.