47. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • Berlin
    • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador
    • Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thompson

At a luncheon with Ambassador Dobrynin and his wife today, I found him more concerned over U.S.-Soviet relations than at any time in our long acquaintance with the exception of the Cuban crisis. He is an able diplomat and some of his remarks may have been a deliberate ploy designed to influence our policies. My conclusion however is that he is genuinely worried.

Dobrynin based his concern on the premise that the Soviet Politburo had reached the conclusion that the totality of U.S. policy constituted an effort to push them around and to influence their policy by a show of strength.2 He referred to our exploitation of a number of petty matters such as the Soviet detention of our two Generals, although on this he implied that both sides deserved some blame. More important was the fact that there appeared to be an anti-Soviet campaign here which he thought was deliberately ordered by a high level in our Government.

After I said I was sure that he was mistaken he said that whatever the cause, the Soviet leadership was in a bad frame of mind and he feared a kind of vicious circle developing in our relations. His purpose [Page 158] in raising this matter was to ask if I could suggest any way to avoid such a development.

I replied that while I could only speak personally, I thought the best thing was for us to reach agreement on some important issue. He had indicated that the Strategic Arms talks were going to take considerable time and I therefore wondered if Berlin might not be a good issue on which progress could be made quickly.

Dobrynin seemed to agree. He said that from their side the Soviets wanted to see ended the political arrangements between West Germany and West Berlin which were illegal even from the point of view of the Western Powers. The West wanted greater security of access and a situation which would avoid recurring crises over Berlin. He said the Soviets were ready for a compromise on these issues.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B. Drafted by Thompson on November 18. Secret; Limdis. The luncheon was held at Ambassador Thompson’s residence. At Kissinger’s request, Thompson forwarded copies of the memorandum—as well as memoranda of conversation with Dobrynin on the Middle East and SALT—to the White House. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 713, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. X)
  2. According to Thompson, Dobrynin expressed similar concern during their discussion of the Middle East. When Thompson “wondered aloud” if the movement of Soviet missiles was “motivated by a desire to bring pressure on the Israelis to reach a settlement,” Dobrynin interjected that “if this had been in their minds they could have given the Egyptians bombers and other offensive weapons. He said more in a manner of concern than of making a threat that such a move was still not excluded as members of the Politburo had become rather angry as a result of a number of what they considered anti-Soviet actions and developments in this country. Among other things he mentioned the numerous press articles and statements to the effect that the Soviets were attempting to establish bases in various places.” (Ibid.)