Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending Cold War tensions. Since coming to power in 1988, Gorbachev had undertaken to concentrate more effort and funds on his domestic reform plans by going to extraordinary lengths to reach foreign policy understandings with the noncommunist world.
Some of his accomplishments include four summits with President Ronald Reagan, including a 1987 meeting at which an agreement was reached to dismantle the U.S. and USSR intermediate-range missiles in Europe. He also began to remove Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988 and exerted diplomatic pressure on Cuba and Vietnam to remove their forces from Angola and Kampuchea (Cambodia), respectively. In a 1989 meeting with President George Bush, Gorbachev declared that the Cold War was over.
Gorbachev also earned the respect of many in the West through his policy of non-intervention in the political upheavals that shook the Eastern European “satellite” nations during the late-1980s and early-1990s. When Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, and other Iron Curtain countries began to move toward more democratic political systems and free market economies, Gorbachev kept Soviet intervention in check. (This policy did not extend to the Soviet republics; similar efforts by Lithuania and other republics were met with stern warnings and force to keep the Soviet Socialist Republics together.)