Books Monographs

At Cold War's End: US Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991

24 Estimates and Assessments

Edited by Benjamin Fischer ( September 1999)


The Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) of the Central Intelligence Agency and the George W. Bush Center for Presidential Studies at Texas A&M University co-sponsored a conference on “US Intelligence and the End of the Cold War” on the Texas A&M University campus at College Station from 18 to 20 November 1999. As a contribution to the conference, CSI prepared a compendium of newly declassified US intelligence documents covering the years 1989-1991.

This period encompassed events in the USSR and Eastern Europe that transformed the postwar world and much of the 20th century’s geopolitical landscape. It was a time when the tempo of history accelerated so rapidly that, as one historian put it, events seemed to be moving beyond human control, if not human comprehension.

Benjamin B. Fischer of CIA’s History Staff selected, edited, and wrote the preface to the National Intelligence Estimates and other intelligence assessments included in this companion volume. In conjunction with the conference, the Intelligence Community will release to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) the the 24 estimative products reprinted in this compendium and those listed in the  Appendix.

The declassification and release of these documents marks a new stage in the CIA’s commitment to openness. The Agency has only rarely declassified and made available to the public and to scholars Cold War records of such recent vintage. The new release complements and supplements the previous declassification of more than 550 National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) and Special National Intelligence Estimates (SNIEs) on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe from 1946 to 1985. CIA continues to review and declassify finished intelligence on these countries.

Mr. Fischer tried to identify and release the most important analysis available for this period. His selection is comprehensive. Some of the documents, especially those on military-strategic subjects, were only partially declassified, since they contain data from still-sensitive sources and methods. Readers should understand, however, that even the portions reprinted here contain information that until  recently was highly classified. We want to note, in addition, that we have selected only estimates and assessments prepared during the Bush administration. We realize that, in some cases, estimates and  other forms of finished intelligence issued before 1989 may have addressed some of the same issues and  even reached some of the same conclusions as those that came later, but our focus is exclusively on  that was written during 1989-1991.

—Gerald K. Haines

Chief Historian

September 1999

Note to Readers:

This compendium of documents is available in its entirety or in five separate PDFs, which include the front matter and the 24 documents arranged according to subject matter. The PDF of the complete collection can be reached with the last link below.

Download PDF of At Cold Wars End-Front Matter, Foreword, Preface, Chronology, and Appendix (65 pages)

Download PDF of At Cold Wars End-The Soviet Crisis: Gorbachev and the Perils of Perestroika (7 documents, 152 pages)

Download PDF of At Cold Wars End-The End of Empire I (Eastern Europe) and II (Secessions and Ethnic Conflict) (3 documents, 66 pages)

Download PDF of At Cold Wars End-"New Thinking": Soviet Foreign Relations (5 documents, 51 pages)

Download PDF of At Cold Wars End-Military Balance I (Conventional Forces in Europe) and II (Strategic Nuclear Weapons) (9 documents, 116 pages)

Download PDF of At Cold Wars End-Complete Compendium of NIEs and Assessments (24 documents, 450 pages)