This article draws on Soviet archival documents as well as Western and Russian publications to analyze the background of Leonid Brezhnev's announcements of 1972 regarding the Soviet Union's possible recognition of the European Economic Community (EEC). The analysis takes into account various factors including the integration process, détente, and Soviet relations with West European states. The article shows that Brezhnev's first initiative toward the EEC in March 1972 was designed to facilitate ratification of the Moscow Treaty with West Germany and did not reflect a genuine desire to establish relations with Brussels. The new Soviet approach toward the EEC became manifest only in Brezhnev's second speech on the topic, in December 1972. This strategy, which included mutual recognition and negotiations between the EEC and the Council on Mutual Economic Assistance, was intended to foster détente in Europe and to pave the way toward the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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