One of the several bilateral pacts that helped ease the tensions between Moscow and Washington was the agreement on the prevention of dangerous military activities, which was signed on 12 June 1989.
It was inked in Moscow by Marshal Mikhail A. Moiseyev, chief of the Soviet General Staff, and US Adm. William J. Crowe, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The key provisions of the agreement:
- The two superpowers agreed to take steps toward preventing dangerous military activities when operating in the proximity of the armed forces of one another during peacetime. Such dangerous activities included: the use of lasers that could harm the other party’s personnel or damage their equipment; interrupting, limiting or hampering the transmission of information of the other party in a way that could harm their personnel or damage equipment; and hampering the activities of the other party’s armed forces in a Special Caution Area, which refers to a region mutually designated by the USSR and the US where their armed forces would be present and where special measures should be in place.
- Washington and Moscow pledged to minimise the chances of entering each other’s territory due to force majeure or unintentional actions, but even if this does happen, they should be committed to maintainining and establishing communications with the other party and follow the instructions of the party whose territory has been breached.
- The agreement laid out who should establish communications and on which radio frequencies if there is a potentially dangerous situation between aircraft, ships, ground vehicles or ground units. If it is impossible to establish such communications, the military personnel were instructed to use internationally accepted visual signals and phrases.
- The two states also pledged to establish a joint military commission that would convene at least once a year to consider compliance with the commitments under the agreement or discuss ways to beef up safety for both armed forces.
The Soviet Union signed such agreements with Canada and Greece in 1991; after the USSR collapsed, the Russian Federation and the US decided that their bilateral pact would remain in force.
Russia later signed a number of similar deals with China, the Czech Republic, South Korea, North Korea, in addition to other countries.