8. Current Intelligence Weekly Review0



East-West Relations

The USSR last week used propaganda charges of US harassment of Soviet merchant vessels to convey the impression that the new US administration is obligated to take unilateral measures to improve Soviet-American relations. In a press conference in Moscow on 12 January, Minister of Merchant Marine Viktor Bakayev charged that US military aircraft and ships were systematically conducting “provocative actions” against Soviet vessels.

The main purpose of the press conference and a subsequent note to the US on 14 January1 probably was to create an issue of a secondary nature which the Soviet leaders may use to differentiate between the two US administrations. Twice during his press conference Bakayev expressed hope that the “new government” of the US would denounce the actions and put an end to the “provocations of the American armed forces.” He said such a move would make a “good contribution to the improvement of Soviet-American relations.”

Bloc propaganda has also gone to some lengths on such other issues as Laos and Cuba to make clear that its criticism of the US was directed at the “outgoing Eisenhower administration” and to differentiate sharply between the present unsatisfactory state of Soviet-American relations and Moscowʼs expectations of improved relations under the new President.

The bloc has also used President Eisenhowerʼs State of the Union message2 to emphasize that improvement of Soviet-American relations will depend primarily on the attitude of the new US administration. A TASS review described the message as an attempt to “whitewash reality” and convince the new President that the present “bankrupt policy” should be continued. TASS also claimed that while the speech evoked no [Page 26] interest, the inaugural address of the new President was being “awaited with much interest.”

Other Soviet broadcasts asserted that the change in administrations will mean a change in the atmosphere of Soviet-US relations, and that statements by members of the new administration already “testify to their correct understanding” of important international problems. The Hungarian news service reported a press editorial which presumed that the new US administration would end the “dead-lock” in Western policy and resume East-West negotiations, “if not on the highest level at least under conditions making possible the examination of the most important international questions.”

Soviet spokesmen have privately continued to stress the need for top-level talks on disarmament, a nuclear test ban agreement, and the Berlin and German questions. The Soviet military attaché in Turkey, obviously under instructions, sought out his US counterpart and stressed the importance of an early meeting between the new President and Khrushchev and a “rapid agreement” on disarmament.

[1 paragraph (10 lines of 2-column source text) not declassified]

Bloc diplomats have also apparently inspired press reports that Khrushchev is prepared to withhold pressure for immediate East-West negotiations provided the US indicates its willingness eventually to discuss disarmament, a nuclear test ban, and the German question. A TASS correspondent in Geneva told a reliable American observer that there would be “no trouble” on Berlin “for awhile,” but that eventually the question should be settled on the basis of a free city. He implied, however, that the USSR would settle for a more limited agreement involving public renunciation of support for refugee and émigré organizations, which Moscow would represent as a step toward American recognition and acceptance of the situation in Eastern Europe.

This line is similar to that taken by East German party chief Ulbricht in a speech to his central committee meeting last month in which he listed removal of “harassing centers” and renunciation of “revanchist propaganda” as two conditions which would assure a “peaceful solution.” These minimum demands, however, were linked to some form of recognition of East Germany.

While a period of conciliatory gestures toward the US and restraint on Berlin seems to be developing, Khrushchev has at the same time sought to maintain a certain sense of urgency over Berlin. The re-emergence of the separate peace treaty threat in private talks coincides with reports from bloc sources that Khrushchev is committed to carry out this threat if he fails to obtain his objectives through negotiations. In his 6 January speech3 Khrushchev warned that the USSR was fully determined to [Page 27] sign a separate treaty with East Germany if the Western powers refused to recognize the “real situation” in Berlin and Germany. He gave no indication of an immediate action, but instead pledged the USSR “to continue, step by step, to bring aggressive-minded imperialists to their senses.”

Ambassador Thompson believes that since the Soviet party congress—scheduled for October—follows so soon after the German elections, it is unlikely that Khrushchev will await the outcome of these elections before forcing the issue of Berlin.

Thus, while Khrushchev appears to have disregarded his earlier deadline of April—mentioned to the West German ambassador last fall—he has in effect implied a new deadline for East-West negotiations before the West German elections this September; moreover, he has made it clear that pressure on the West may be gradually applied if his campaign for negotiations appears to be lagging.

The TASS correspondent stressed that a nuclear test ban was a more critical problem than Berlin. He hinted that when negotiations resumed, the USSR would be prepared to reach a “reasonable agreement” on the issue of the number of annual on-site inspections of areas where detection equipment indicated a possible nuclear explosion. Thus far, the Soviet delegation at Geneva has refused to negotiate the issue since proposing three inspections in theUSSR each year. The Soviets, however, have hinted that their proposal is subject to amendments, but only if the Western powers concede that the basis for determining the number of inspections will be an arbitrary political decision rather than a scientific estimate of the probable number of suspicious natural occurrences, such as earthquakes.

Thus far Soviet propaganda has not commented on American press reports of the special task force recommendation to the new President that nuclear test ban talks and disarmament negotiations be deferred for several months.

Press reports of the full text of Khrushchevʼs 6 January speech, on the results of the Moscow conference of Communist leaders, indicate that it is intended as a definitive Soviet interpretation of the doctrinal and policy questions covered in the Moscow declaration of 6 December. Publication of the full text of this speech was delayed until 17 January, in the party journal Kommunist. Publication at this time is probably intended to complement an expected Central Committee resolution on the Moscow conference.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency: Job 79-S01060A. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]; Noforn. Prepared by CIAʼs Office of Current Intelligence. The source text comprises pp. 1-3 of Part II of the issue.
  2. For text of the Soviet note of January 14, see Department of State Bulletin, February 6, 1961, p. 178.
  3. For text of the message, January 12, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960-61, pp. 913-930.
  4. See footnote 1, Document 13.