17. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

1690. I have read with great interest various messages concerning forthcoming visit to Moscow of Chancellor Raab and in particular Ambassador Thompson’s conversation with Kreisky (Vienna’s 1522). I believe it might be helpful at this juncture to elaborate views already indicated in previous messages concerning Soviet motivation in recent developments affecting Austria. While it is true that German question dominates Soviet political thinking and therefore any European question and particularly Austria is regarded in its relation thereto, I do not believe that “basic” Soviet motivation in reopening Austrian question is related to their present position on Germany but is more a consequence of their recognition that rearmament of Western Germany cannot be stopped. (Their long-term policy on Germany is another question.) This development to which Soviet Government attaches great importance cannot but affect their attitude towards Austria.

I believe as already indicated Embtel 16453 that chief immediate motivation of Soviets in reopening Austrian question is to endeavor to insure neutralization of Austria in order to prevent military integration three Western zones of Austria into NATO set-up or, in event Soviet demands in this respect are rejected by three Western powers and Austrian Government to prepare way for safeguarding Soviet military position in eastern Austria. Question may be rendered acute by imminence projected Soviet counter-measures for military organization Eastern Europe. It is probable that given guarantees and safeguards adequate in their eyes to prevent any Austrian military involvement with West, Soviet Government on balance would prefer complete neutralization of Austria as a whole to alternative mere retention Soviet military position in eastern Austria with three Western zones moving towards military incorporation in Western defense organization.

If this view is correct, conversations with Raab will center on neutralization issue. (It is doubtful if Soviets would go to all this effort merely to restate Berlin position.) Soviets will undoubtedly endeavor to obtain Austrian consent to some form of guarantee which would provide Soviet Government under its terms with legal grounds in future for intervention or pressure on Austrian Government to [Page 27] prevent any association with West in general and Bonn in particular which Soviets would regard inimicable to their interests and their purposes.

Dangers and unacceptability of any measures which would give Soviet Government opportunity legally to interfere in Austrian internal affairs or to dictate Austrian relationships with other countries are obvious but this may become central point in Raab negotiations here. If Soviet demands, as they may well be, are sufficiently obvious—for example, involving continued stationing of troops or right of entry under conditions to be determined by Soviet Government—I would imagine no serious problem would arise in regard to Austrian reaction to proposals of this nature. Given understandable Austrian desire for treaty, danger of acquiescence would be much greater if Soviet conditions are phrased merely in terms of proposal for four-power guarantees, Austrian commitment, et cetera.

I assume from our Berlin position and fact that we offered no specific objection to Austrian note of March 144 that unilateral declaration by Austrian Government of its intention to refrain from military alliances or accept bases on its territory is not unacceptable to three Western powers. If this is correct, there would seem to be no particular objection to a declaration or agreement by the four-powers undertaking to respect Austrian position on this point. Anything beyond this point involving, for example, a guarantee by four powers of Austrian independence and against Anschluss, as indicated by Kreisky in Vienna’s telegram under reference, would be dangerous in that it would inevitably give Soviet Union certain responsibilities and rights in the field of determining what did or did not constitute a threat to Austrian independence or danger of Anschluss. It would seem to me therefore that key point and one which might especially commend itself to Austrians is that determination as to what constitutes a threat to Austrian independence, neutrality or danger of Anschluss must be left to Austrian Government and should not in any circumstances be embodied in treaty or accompanying agreements in any such manner as to afford Soviets a basis for making their determination on these points.

In view of variety of factors affecting our position on Austria, foregoing thoughts are set forth not in any sense as recommendation but merely as indications of probable lines Soviet Government may pursue in negotiation with Raab and particular points of danger as seen against background of Soviet intentions.

I am glad to note that Raab has agreed that Western Ambassadors in Moscow should be kept openly and currently informed of Austrian discussions here. I have already discussed this point with [Page 28] British Ambassador and we will work out most convenient mechanism here. (French Ambassador is leaving tomorrow for consultation in Paris and may or may not return for Raab visit.)

While I realize importance of avoiding any impression that Raab is empowered to reach any agreement or make any commitments here, I believe it would be valuable for me to have Department’s latest thinking, particularly on points raised above in this message for guidance and background. It might be advantageous to nip in bud any Soviet proposition which would be clearly unacceptable to us before Austrians become too deeply involved in its discussion.

For Vienna: In view of shortness of visit I imagine that Austrian Legation meet him and that no attempt at entertainment or other social activities should be undertaken by Western Embassies here but would appreciate your views.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/3–3155. Secret. Repeated to London, Paris, and Vienna.
  2. Same as telegram 2174, supra .
  3. Document 11.
  4. Transmitted in telegram 1948; see footnote 2, Document 8.