152. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Romania1

719. Subject: Brezhnev in Romania. Following is summary preliminary INR assessment recent Romanian policy developments sent to the Secretary on May 13:

Precise purpose Brezhnev’s trip May 10–13 to Bucharest remains uncertain. Clear, however, that recrudescence of acute Soviet-Romanian [Page 415] differences involved. Most broadly, plain that Romanian party boss Ceausescu’s long May 7 speech was a firm reiteration Romanian national independence with strong overtones of criticism of Soviet policies toward Romania all the way back to early 1920s. Outburst may well have been occasioned by Soviet pressures convoke Warsaw Pact meeting for purpose of trying once again coordinate Soviet and East European policies. Although any estimate of latest Soviet-Romanian summit must remain speculative, reports that Warsaw Pact meeting site moved from Bucharest suggests Soviet-Romanian deadlock persists.
Thrust of Ceausescu’s May 7 speech made with fore-knowledge imminence Brezhnev’s visit, indicated Romanian determination resist Soviet pressures probably renewed at 23rd Party Congress for Romania to rein in its ultra-nationalist lines in world communist affairs. Brezhnev and Kosygin had gone out of their way receive Romanian delegation before other East Europeans during Congress. Romanians nevertheless responded following the Congress with party plenum totally ignoring Soviet conclave. Then, in most anti-Soviet pronouncement since April 1964, Ceausescu on May 7 broke new ground by attacking Comintern and implicitly Soviet efforts to dictate Romanian Communist policy as far back as Lenin. In no less than nine places he indirectly refers to Bessarabian issue. While Romania obviously has no hopes for return Bessarabia, raising issue presumably designed illustrate depth Romanian nationalism for benefit both of Moscow and Romanian people. Finally, Ceausescu denounced military blocs as “incompatible with national sovereignty.” While consistent with Communist attacks on Western alliances, coming from Rumanians this charge must appear to Moscow as directed against Warsaw Pact as well.
Romania’s free-wheeling policies among the communist countries also must profoundly disturb Moscow. By adhering strictly to neutral stand in Sino-Soviet dispute, Romania has contributed significantly to torpedoing Soviet effort promote communist meeting to discuss Sino-Soviet conflict or coordinate aid to Vietnam. Romanian First Deputy Premier Bodnaras’s May 5–11 official visit to Hanoi enabled Romania improve bilateral ties, while simultaneously maintaining separate bilateral ties with China and USSR. Chou En-lai’s prospective visit to Romania comes against backdrop sharp increase in Peking’s attacks on Soviet Union.
Insofar as Romania’s nationalist policies create problems of communist coordination for USSR, there is net advantage to US. On other hand, Romania’s maneuverability depends on outward appearance of solidarity with communist aims so that Bucharest has had to maintain good relations with China and increasingly better relations with DRV. Chou En-lai’s reported visit May 18–23 to Romania and Bodnaras visit to DRV exemplify this aspect Romanian policy. Romania, in fact, has [Page 416] moved further in latter visit to anti-US position than at any time in past. Even so, Ceausescu held out hope for improved relations with US. Romania, it seems, still trying walk tightrope in overall policy of promoting good relations with all countries “irrespective of their political configuration.”
Foregoing drafted before receipt of May 16 Moscow-dateline report that Romanians had recently sent circular note to Warsaw Pact members with detailed proposals for watering down organization. Although AFP story cannot be confirmed at this time, it appears to be clue that Romanians have taken one more step in their effort to disengage from tight Soviet control of Warsaw Pact, perhaps setting its latest demand as the price of attending a Political Consultative Committee meeting. Such move which may have triggered Brezhnev’s trip would strengthen basic analysis set forth above.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 USSR. Confidential. Drafted in INR, cleared in EUR, and approved in INR. Also sent to Moscow and Paris for the Embassy and USNATO.