This article explores the interactions between French and Soviet leaders at the end of the Cold War when they were confronted by German reunification. This important dimension of the events of 1989–1990 has been largely neglected up to now. Although allegations of Franco-Soviet collusion against German reunification have long been widespread, the evidence presented here from declassified French, Soviet, and West German sources shows that the two countries in fact failed to cooperate to shape the modalities and outcome of these processes despite the close relationship that by then prevailed between French President François Mitterrand and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Although for decades Paris and Moscow had shared the objective of avoiding a disruptive settlement of the German question, and although both leaders were initially deeply troubled by the pace of events, they did not agree about the fundamental issue of German self-determination and did not share an understanding of the international conditions required for German reunification. Even more critically, they had different visions of the transformation of the European security system that should accompany it.

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