The Soviet Union had been known for being aggressively expansionist in the past, but in dtente the Soviet Union acted more out of security reasons rather than expansionist such as in Afghanistan which was on the USSR’s border and could of possibly handed the USA a geostrategic position over them, also during dtente they showed real enthusiasm for dtente and more so than the USA, this spawns from the USSR having a much more serious view of the meaning of dtente.
The statement isn’t valid because firstly in the Arab-Israeli and Angola conflicts although they did get involved with aiding one side, the acted second, after the USA which shows that they were acting less out of their ‘aggressive expansionist’ nature and more out of a response to their rival, the USA. Within the Arab-Israeli and Angola conflicts the USSR never deployed troops and only aided one side within these conflicts compared to when they wanted to expand their sphere of influence into Eastern Europe, they installed the Red Army into the Eastern European states to occupy them.
In Angola the USSR wasn’t acting aggressively due to Cuba having sent troops and aid to the FNLA party within Angola as they supported communism, the Soviets felt that because they were the arbiter of communism at that time or at least contesting to be they should help their fellow communist nations, also this action in Angola was not troops it was aid and again it was in reaction to the USA helping the MPLA party first but the severity of this situation was increased as China was dovetailed with the USA in contributing in Angola.
Not only in the conflicts did the USSR show more enthusiasm to dtente but also in the treaties that were passed. SALT and the basic principles treaties were signed by the USSR even when the USA were trying to play China against the Soviets which shows a degree of commitment. The technology in this is obviously a large factor as the USA had what both the USSR and China wanted.
The USSR also showed increased enthusiasm for dtente in theory. The two superpowers had two very different views on what dtente was and how it should be or was intended to be operated. The USA saw dtente as a set of guidelines that should be followed but more importantly they saw it as a chance to exploit the USSR. On the other hand, the Soviets saw dtente as a more strict set of rules and aims that would have to be achieved if there was ever to be peace, the severity of this outlook on dtente shows an increased commitment.
Afghanistan was the death of dtente but even so the USSR had a reason for their actions. They feared that the new ruler of Afghanistan after Daoud was overthrown would turn to the USA and possibly China for aid rather than the USSR, this would therefore give the USSR’s rivals a geostrategic position over the Soviets and in turn disrupt the parity there was at the time after the USSR pulling out of Cuba and the USA removing Jupiter missiles from Turkey.
Through the period of dtente the USSR could be seen as aggressively expansionist too, in Afghanistan although it can be argued they were acting out of national security interest the brutality of the invasion could go against this. The USSR invaded Afghanistan and were in the capital within hours and the leader Amin had been killed, then they put in place their own pro-Moscow leader in Kamal. Not only the brutality but also the duration, the Red Army occupied Afghanistan for 10 years and only left as communism began to lose strength and seem on the way down.
The USSR can also be criticised in dtente for its contribution in Angola, with Cuba already involved they didn’t really need to become involved as there was already one communist nation supporting the MPLA. It can be seen as the USSR were acting in Angola to counter the USA’s and China’s involvement rather than for the preservation of communism.
To conclude it isn’t fair to agree with the statement because throughout dtente the USSR showed enthusiasm, often that greater than the USA’s and were only aggressively expansionist over Afghanistan and that can be argued that it was for security. The main point regarded the USSR’s enthusiasm is that they perceived dtente to be much more important and have a greater meaning on a global scale than the USA and they weren’t aggressively expansionist due to them not putting troops on the ground in places outside their sphere of influence (Arab-Israeli and Angola conflicts) and were acting in response to the USA getting involved in these places first.