Though of eminent significance to the USSR's leadership as in previous years, Soviet policy towards Germany more than ever remained subordinate to relations with the other superpower, the US, on the one hand, and to the safeguarding of Soviet hegemony over an Eastern Europe that was growing increasingly self-confident (including the GDR) on the other. 1 For all that, Soviet policy vis-à-vis the Federal Republic has always operated on two parallel levels—the diplomatic one and the ideological-propagandistic one. It must, moreover, be taken into account that following Brezhnev's death there were at times three competing orientations of Soviet policy towards the West, represented by the pairs Gromyko-Ustinov, Chernenko-Tikhonov, and Andropov-Gorbachev.