Top-Secret Reagan Letters to Soviet Leaders Now Online

03/18/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated May 25, 2011

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Reagan Files is proud to announce the digital publication of top-secret letters between Pres. Reagan and the four Soviet leaders during the Reagan presidency. The top-secret letters are online at the Reagan Files website.

Reagan first started corresponding with General Secretary Brezhnev in 1981, and after spending time reflecting on U.S.-Soviet relations during his recovery from the March 30 assassination attempt, Reagan sent Breznev an extensive handwritten letter on April 24, 1981 calling for the Soviet Union to implement human rights reforms in response to Brezhnev's earlier March 7 letter calling for arms reductions negotiations to halt the nuclear arms race. Reagan's four-page handwritten letter also reminded Brezhnev that after World War II the United States was the only power capable of delivering a nuclear weapon anywhere in the world but instead of seeking world dominatation decided to rebuild the economies of its enemies.

Between 1982 and 1985, Reagan would continue corresponding with first General Secretary Andropov and then General Secretary Chernenko until Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary in 1985.

Between 1985 and 1988, Reagan and Gorbachev engaged in one of the most important series of correspondences between a president of the United States and any foreign head of state. The dozens of letters between the two spanned all areas of U.S.-Soviet relations, and without a doubt led to a thawing of tensions between the United States and Soviet Union at a time when many thought Reagan was dangerously close to starting World War III. As the letters show, Reagan and Gorbachev were instead discussing how to minimize the threat of nuclear war by first reducing and then eliminating all nuclear weapons.

All the letters can be found by clicking here.

Jason Saltoun-Ebin can be reached at