191. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • The Finnish Situation

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. T. Brimelow, Counselor, British Embassy
  • Mr. J. B. Denson, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • Mr. W. C. Burdett, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, EUR
  • Mr. M. C. Rewinkel, Acting Director, BNA
  • Mr. K. Christensen, Officer in Charge, Northern Europe, BNA

Mr. Brimelow called at his own request. He presented a paper on contingency planning on Finland,1 but said that he had come primarily to discuss the Finnish situation. Mr. Burdett gave him the substance of Deptel 2384 to London,2 and in addition stated that we were sending a message to Paris about a possible NATO response to the allegations made by the Soviets in their note to the Finns.3

Emphasizing that he was speaking personally, Mr. Brimelow said he gives some credence to reported leaks through Poland to the effect that the Soviets intend to stage a series of crises. He suggested that the Soviets are endeavoring to orchestrate increasing tension, one element of which is to demonstrate a stronger conventional war posture by making troop movements through satellites. He considers this important, and said that the Soviets may wish to move troops into Finland as part of this effort which is designed to bring about negotiations on Berlin. Continuing in this vein, Mr. Brimelow suggested that the Soviet note to Finland plays on Scandinavian nerves already frayed by fallout fears, and takes into account lingering Scandinavian doubts and worries regarding Germans. Mr. Brimelow suggested that even though Finland may not agree on the alleged threat from the West, the Russians would say that nevertheless they (the Soviets) consider the threat real and accordingly need certain facilities in Finland. (Mr. Brimelow was inclined to [Page 410]think, however, that the Soviets have not made up their minds on how far to go.) Mr. Brimelow suggested that Khrushchev could reason that, in order to establish the credibility of his own deterrent vis-à-vis the build up of Western conventional forces, he could not leave Leningrad undefended. Thus, if one considers there may not be a nuclear war, it would make sense for Khrushchev, in further orchestration of tension, to move troops into Finland. Soviet emphasis on West German militarization, continued Mr. Brimelow, illustrates that the rearmament of the FRG is taken seriously by the Soviets.

Mr. Brimelow suggested that the Soviets may wish to do more than use the Note to the Finns for propaganda purposes. The Note, he believes, may be part of a Soviet build up of tension in the crisis on Berlin, and the Soviets probably feel that in this area they can go far with little danger to themselves. Soviet concern with a German threat may, Mr. Brimelow continued, be emphasized through actions in Finland in order that the Scandinavians will see that pressure on them, including Finland, can be relieved by negotiations on Berlin. The Scandinavians will thus be induced to place increased urgency on negotiations.

In conclusion, Mr. Brimelow indicated that Prime Minister Macmillan has had a longstanding personal interest in Finland.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 660E.61/11–161. Secret. Drafted by Christensen.
  2. Not found.
  3. Telegram 2384, October 13, provided the Department of State’s analysis that the Soviet note was part of a wider campaign of psychological pressure and outlined U.S. plans for a political and propaganda response. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/10–1361)
  4. In Topol 669 to Paris, November 1, the Department of State outlined its proposal for NATO action to counter the Soviet propaganda offensive, stressing its view that Finland should not be specifically mentioned. (Ibid., 375/11–161)