94. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

5633. Ref: US NATO 4825.2

Soviet invasion Czechoslovakia was brutal act of aggression. NATO must of course take account of redeployment Soviet troops as well as indication of dominant hard line trend in Soviet Politburo.
However, I believe that Soviets regard their move against Czechoslovakia as defensive in sense that they were meeting what they considered a threat to the existing Communist order as well as a possible eventual defection of a bloc member. Their concentration on West Germany in their propaganda is natural as this is the only defense of their action which carries conviction with their own people and they doubtless consider that FRG’s Eastern policy at least contributed to Czech developments.
I continue to believe that use of force against Romania or Yugoslavia most unlikely, although they will certainly keep up the pressure on both.
An important indicator of Soviet policy will be their decision on whether or not they decide to go ahead with world Communist meeting in November. Indefinite postponement is most likely, but if they proceed they will surely have to withdraw substantial number of their forces from Czechoslovakia before such meeting.3
So far it does not appear that Czech leaders are willing or able to meet fully what Soviets appear to consider their minimum requirements. If this situation persists, uncertain whether Soviets will accept partial compliance or attempt to bring about change in Czech leadership and possibly cow opposition by wholesale arrests. Their commitment not to interfere in Czech internal affairs will not deter them if they decide a purge is their best course.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–1 COMBLOC–CZECH. Secret. Repeated to USUN, USNATO, Paris, London, Bonn, Belgrade, Budapest, Prague, Sofia, Warsaw, and Bucharest.
  2. Telegram 4825 from USNATO, September 21, reported on the discussions at a special meeting of the NATO political advisers on events in Czechoslovakia. (Ibid.)
  3. International Communist “consultations” were held in Moscow December 2–6, 1969.