238. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 0

1598. At Kremlin reception tonight (Nov 7) I had chance to protest first to Kosygin,1 then to Gromyko about Soviet actions on Autobahn, concern about which had brought me back to Moscow. Kosygin deprecated seriousness of incident relative to other problems, insisted Sovs were for [not] seeking change rules onaccess. When I stressed serious effects on public opinion and resulting impediment to improvement of relations and progress toward solution other problems, he admitted “soldiers sometimes too eager fulfill instructions” and expressed hope incidents would not recur.

Gromyko took similar but harder line, insisted elements in Pentagon tryingchange rules and provoke incidents and US Govt not accurately informed by US military, which I vigorously denied. Toward end of reception he sought meout to bring up subject again and I invited UK Ambassador Trevelyan to join us. This time Gromyko referred to agreement concluded between Allied military in Germany in 1945 specifying that military authorities should establish access procedures to be followed.2 [Page 627] He also referred to specific communication sent in 1958 by Soviet Commanding General in Germany to US Commanding General regarding Autobahn.3 These were basis of established practices respecting Autobahn traffic.Soviets were not changing them one iota but they must be “obeyed” (in English) by Allied forces if troubles were to be avoided.

When Trevelyan and I denied knowledge any such “agreement” as he alleged and referred to our own effort to avoid misunderstanding by our communication on procedures of Oct 29,4 he said he would be informed. When I cited record of scores of convoyssimilar to or larger than recent one which had passed in past months, as Thompson had informed Dobrynin, Gromyko said occasional courtesies, especially in conditions of inclement weather, should not be taken as change in rules. I said dismounting by our own convoys had never been practiced at all until large groups went through two years ago, and that dismounting of any convoys was purely courtesy on our part. Conversation terminated inconclusively on this note.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 38–10. Confidential; Priority. Received at 6:50 p.m. and repeated to Berlin, Bonn, London, and Paris.
  2. Aleksei N. Kosygin, First Deputy Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers.
  3. For a record of the June 29, 1945, meeting at which this agreement was reached, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. III, pp. 353361.
  4. In a memorandum to Rusk on November 8, Assistant Legal Adviser for European Affairs Kearney speculated that Gromyko was referring toa letter dated July 17, 1958, from General Zakharov to General Hodes on the movement of troops and supplies to Berlin. A copy ofthe letter was attached tothe memorandum. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 38–6)
  5. See footnote 3, Document 234.