Economic Woes for the Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Pact was based around the principle of cooperation and mutual assistance for its member states, including both military agreement and economic cooperation. In reality, the Soviet Union decided both the military and economic policies for all of the Warsaw Pact's member states. Disagreement with Soviet policies had resulted in the invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. By 1980, however, the situation was changing. The Soviet Union's economic problems, including a decline in oil production, had undermined Soviet strength. To resolve the Soviet Union's economic shortages, Brezhnev's state planned a drastic reduction of the oil supplied to Eastern Europe. In this report to the Soviet Politburo about a recent Warsaw Pact meeting, Brezhnev's willingness to compromise with Erich Honecker, East Germany's Party Secretary, suggests the reality of Soviet weakness. Brezhnev's reaction also suggests the Soviet Union can no longer make unilateral decisions for all of Eastern Europe.
Leonid Brezhnev, "On the Results of Cde. K. V. Rusakov's Trip to the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria," 29 October 1981, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).