105. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of Central Committee, CPSU
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to USA
  • Georgi M. Kornienko, Head of USA Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, interpreter
  • Andrei Vavilov, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff
  • William Hyland, NSC Senior Staff
  • Philip Odeen, NSC Senior Staff
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Richard Campbell, NSC Staff


  • Nuclear Agreement

Brezhnev: Did your people commute here by helicopter?

Kissinger: No, they are all staying here now.

Brezhnev: I flew here once by helicopter, at night. We told them to light bonfires here; they lit four, and we landed right in the middle of them. We flew Podgorny, Kosygin and myself—all three.

Kissinger: Can you go from Moscow to here, or do you have to go from the airport?

Brezhnev: On one occasion I took off from the Kremlin Square where the bell is. Also there is a heliport on Leningrad Prospect, a regular heliport to the three main Moscow airports.

Kissinger: The arrangements are now working beautifully, and Washington knows how to get in touch with us.

Brezhnev: That is bad. We should do something to break off all communications for a whole week.

Kissinger: That would be exciting.

Brezhnev: The world would be excited—no Kissinger!

Kissinger: Except the Foreign Minister’s colleagues in the State Department—they would be celebrating.

[Page 348]

Brezhnev: When they were searching for Nobile,2 there were businessmen who used it for their own commercial advantage. One man wrote from Odessa: “I am searching for Nobile.” So the telegraph office accepted it as urgent. The next line said “Send 3 sacks of potatoes.” [laughter] We will send a message saying: “We are looking for Kissinger.”

Kissinger: That means that the White House will have lost all its assistants.

Brezhnev: But the main one will be Kissinger.

You don’t know how tempted I am to take you out into the forest now and show you the wild boars. They have live ones two times as big as the stuffed one you see.

Kissinger: I won’t go!

Brezhnev: I will go with you.

Gromyko: What they do to the best hunter—they leave him ½ kilometer from the tower. He is surrounded by wild boars but they leave him 2 guns. [laughter]

Kissinger: I thought it was a race between him and the biggest boar.

Brezhnev: Mr. Kissinger, believe only me! Sometimes someone will say “I’ll go first and you go behind me.” It looks like he is taking the responsibility. But boars always attack from behind!

Our boars eat everything and leave nothing.

Kissinger: Your boars always encircle you first!

Brezhnev: They don’t waste such time; they want to eat.

Kissinger: I am carrying our only copy of the document while I am hunting.

Brezhnev: But I will have a second copy.

Aleksandrov: And I will have a third here.

Brezhnev: Let’s get down to business. The only thing remaining is to draw up the document—on how to bomb everybody. [laughter]

Kissinger: That would attract attention!

Brezhnev: We are men of large-scale action.

Kissinger: A document on how to establish hegemony.

Brezhnev: We will only say we are always struggling for peace. By way of a joke: Two men meet. One says “There will be no war—but a struggle for peace. It will be so acute that there will be no stone left [Page 349] unturned!” [laughter] All that goes into an arsenal of jokes, predinner and post-dinner stories.

I had a brief conversation with Ambassador Dobrynin and he asked me “When are you going to talk to Dr. Kissinger?” I didn’t get what he was driving at: Now we are done with jokes. It means we must get down to business.

Kissinger: That is how he treats me in Washington.

Brezhnev: My God.

Kissinger: Ever since he got a direct line to my office, he’s been impossible.

Brezhnev: Cut it off. I am glad you are comfortable here. But in Moscow they might ask me to report back to them what we are doing here. It is easy for you to just go to Camp David. It is more complicated here. Dr. Kissinger is in a better position. You must have been born under a lucky star. [Sonnenfeldt whispers something to Kissinger] Sonnenfeldt is very pleased.

Sonnenfeldt: His last birthday was in Moscow.

Brezhnev: I forgot last year to present you with an old Russian drinking cup. In addition to the 49-year old brandy.

Anyway, I have not been getting any calls from Moscow, which is good. But they have been sending me my papers. The communications officers come every ½ hour. About half of them are not worth the trip here, but they feel they have to. Some papers I can dispense with for a half year, but they have to send it with a note “Leonid Ilyich, this might be of interest to you.”

Kissinger: Do you have a secretariat that selects for you what should come out here?

Brezhnev: Our Finance Minister won’t give me enough of a staff. [laughter]

My staff keeps telling me that we have so many people on this job. But that is America. They keep telling me, “look what America has.”

Kissinger: One half sends messages to the other half.

Brezhnev: There is a book—by Parkinson—that says if any department has 2,000 people it has no mission to perform, but one half sends paper to the other half. They have nothing to do.3

So here I am, shaking before you [Kissinger laughs], waiting for you to tell us when to begin. And not just you, Gromyko and Dobrynin.

Kissinger: Not to speak of Kornienko.

Brezhnev: Kornienko, too, is in the same company.

[Page 350]

Kissinger: Well, we were going to go through the document to see if either side wanted to make changes. Of course we have exchanged messages on this for some time. So we have only very little to suggest. And I think we have reached this point by each side having understanding of the point of view and necessities of the other. [Kornienko gets up]

When Kornienko gets up, I know things are going to get difficult.

Brezhnev: I am afraid of that too. I am afraid if your colleagues get up.

Kissinger: They are too terrified.

Brezhnev: Of what?

Sonnenfeldt: Of whom?

Kissinger: In America they sit at attention. But not abroad, in a socialist country.

Brezhnev: Look at Aleksandrov [whose arm is in a cast]. He sits like that because he is injured. A sacrifice for peace!

Dr. Kissinger, will you start? Or shall we? The important thing is to read through the entire document.

Kissinger: Why don’t we go through the entire document, and each side can make suggestions where it has one.

Brezhnev: When I met some American Senators I said that Sukhodrev’s name is not “dry wood” but “tree of life.”

Sukhodrev: The General Secretary suggests I read the English version of our text.

Kissinger: I am assuming we are operating from the document we have been using in Washington [U.S. working draft of May 3, Tab A].4 You haven’t been producing a new document?

Brezhnev: What my colleagues are suggesting is that we should go immediately to the key Article I, and I agree with them. They are both Americans [Dobrynin and Kornienko], and they press down on me.

Will your side read your text of Article I?

Gromyko: Again a concession!

Kissinger: It was a debate on how to spring the trap door. I feel like a man with a noose around his neck, with people debating how to spring it.

Brezhnev: That is not the important thing. The important thing is . . .

Kissinger: . . . that I hang!

[Page 351]

Brezhnev: . . . that the noose will be well-soaped. I want you to have a soft armchair.

Kissinger: May I make a suggestion? So we both should know what we are operating from.

We have a document that has what I think is understood. Both sides can tell what changes they want to make in it. Then we can discuss Article I first.

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, sincerely, that is of no consequence to me. The important thing is to get to it.

Kissinger: My proposal is that each side should indicate now what changes it wants—in the Preamble, and in Articles I, II, III, IV, and V. Then I’ll be delighted to discuss Article I. But I can’t until we know what other changes you are suggesting.

Gromyko: Why don’t you read Article I, then we’ll make only a few changes.

Kissinger: [laughs] If we can get a sense of what you want . . .

Gromyko: If we agree on this article, it will be much easier to discuss the others.

Kissinger: We’ll discuss Article I first, and you don’t have to make any decision on anything else. But we want to know what follows.

Gromyko: We consider it the crucial article, and I think you do too.

Kissinger: Why can’t you tell us what you have in mind?

We have a text, which we had assumed was more or less agreed, with some minor changes.

Brezhnev: I will read.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, that isn’t the point. I would be delighted to read. I don’t insist the Soviet side read first. My proposal is . . .

[Brezhnev and Gromyko argue. Gromyko laughs.]

Brezhnev: Try arguing with him [Gromyko]. Let’s read it.

Kissinger: Go through the whole thing.

Brezhnev: Mr. Kissinger, if we read it, nothing will escape your attention. If you see anything you don’t like, you tell us.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, that will get us to Article I first.

Dobrynin: The Preamble, then Article I.

Kissinger: Now that I know your concerns are in the Preamble and Article I, and our concerns are in Article IV, we’ve told each other what we want. So we can proceed.

Brezhnev: Article I.

Kissinger: My understanding is . . . Let’s summarize where we stand, so we are clear. You want some changes in the Preamble and in Article I.

[Page 352]

Brezhnev: Right.

Gromyko: Changes as compared with what? You suggested certain forms of words which we haven’t agreed.

Dobrynin: Henry, we have some suggestions on the Preamble, nothing really.

Kissinger: It was my impression—perhaps due to my own inadequacies—that what your Ambassador and I discussed was agreed.

Dobrynin: On Articles I and II.

Kissinger: And there has been a substantial amount of time to react. Since we are already going to have a disagreement on substance, let’s not also have a disagreement on procedure. All right, let’s discuss Article I.

Brezhnev: I’m interested in substance. We can start reading from the end; it’s a document. And probably each side has some comments to make on any part of the agreement. At this first stage let’s go through it.

Kissinger: Before we do, the General Secretary and the Foreign Minister must understand that this has been a very difficult exercise for us. We have already made major changes in Washington. I was very tempted to hold them back and make them to the General Secretary. We’ve agreed to many things because we know of the personal interest of the General Secretary in this. So the margin of change for us is very small.

Dobrynin: So look at what we’re going to propose.

Brezhnev: Let’s agree on one thing. Neither you nor I are making any concessions. Let’s not call them that. What we’re trying to do is improve this document, which is important to our two countries. Improving this document to bring it to a state in both form and content that will be understood correctly by everyone in the world. And to insure that after signing the document, both . . .

Kissinger: The General Secretary proposed I read it in English. Is that correct? Or do you want to give us your changes?

Dobrynin: [to Kissinger] Wait until you see what his proposal is.

Kissinger: Can we hear it? By what method will we learn the Soviet position on Article I? I will agree to any proposal that produces the Soviet position.

Brezhnev: Last night I read this document again in detail and asked my comrades for explanations on various points. But right now I do suggest we start on Article I.

Kissinger: I agree.

Brezhnev: “The Soviet Union and the United States of America solemnly agree that an objective of their policy is to remove the danger of nuclear war and of the use of nuclear weapons.”

[Page 353]

Gromyko: The exact text.

Dobrynin: As agreed.

Brezhnev: It’s the Foreign Ministry that gets everything confused.

Kissinger: I thought that now that the Foreign Minister is on the Politburo he would not pay attention to all these details. [laughter]

Brezhnev: He’s not yet in the part.

That’s the first paragraph of Article I. Then: “Accordingly, they agree that they will act in such a way as to prevent the development of situations capable of causing a dangerous exacerbation of their relations, to avoid military confrontations and to exclude the outbreak of nuclear war between themselves.” Full stop.

Kissinger: What comes next?

Brezhnev: As I said, we’re concluding an agreement between our two sides, between the United States and the Soviet Union, and we would therefore feel that we could refer to various other parties further on in the agreement. The first article is the “strike force;” what we say here is that we will act in such a way as to avoid exacerbation of our relations. Even here there are things I don’t like, but because so much work has gone into it, I’ll leave it. I trust the people who worked on it. We’re not saying there will never be a nuclear war between us, but only that we will “act in such a way as to.” So a lot of meaning is in here. Only in the last line are we saying we will act in such a way as to exclude the outbreak of nuclear war. Our side is not happy with this either, because our side would rather say that we will not use nuclear weapons. The meaning is that there is the possibility that we can act and act but there will still be war. Besides all we do mention here, why mention others here? We can put them in another page.

Kissinger: That is all you want to change in Article I?

Brezhnev: Yes, that is all we have in Article I.

Let me explain. When Russians start reading the text, they will understand the United States and the Soviet Union are taking measures to reach their aim of preventing situations, and so forth, and on that basis to reach their endeavor to prevent nuclear war. That’s what President Nixon said in his Inaugural Address—to go from an era of confrontation to negotiation.5 So it is a sort of translation of his words. We are not proposing deleting the last line; we are proposing to put it somewhere else. But Article I should be our aim. Our policy is aimed at averting nuclear war, and that’s something no one can object to. In accordance with [Page 354] that aim, as it says, they will act in such a way. So there is no indication that there is a categorical agreement between us not to go to nuclear war. In Russian it sounds a bit weak. Since so much work has been done, we won’t make other changes, but we propose to end the sentence after “themselves” and transfer the rest of the sentence elsewhere in the text.

So we’ve not changed anything at all in the text itself but we are, as it were, turning it towards our two nations. And so that other countries will be less critical, we propose moving that sentence elsewhere in the text where it will be appropriate.

Is there anyone in the United States who wants nuclear war? Anyone in West Germany? If we do this, Article I will squarely state that it applies only to the United States and the Soviet Union.

Kissinger: This proposal can have two significances. It can either have been the result of meticulous drafting, with obligations toward each other in one paragraph and obligations toward others in the other paragraph. It could make a big difference. So I would be interested in knowing what other changes you are making in the document.

Brezhnev: We could discuss that, and see where it could go.

Kissinger: Well, could we get an exact text so we could study it in detail? Then we could see.

Brezhnev: Tell me, do you believe that in general this reference to third countries has to be included in the treaty as such?

Kissinger: Yes. I disappointed the Foreign Minister, but I have to be honest.

Mr. General Secretary, let me be frank with you. This will be a significant document, and its significance won’t be from the fact that it doesn’t mean anything. If we say it is just general and has no concrete significance, even then there is a great problem. We have a massive difficulty on two fronts: One in relation to other countries, and one in relation to domestic opinion. With the former we will be accused of making an agreement that spares us from nuclear war and leaves open others to the threat of nuclear war. In the domestic situation, the problem is more difficult for us. It has always been a Soviet proposal, and always opposed by the United States. It is a bigger change in our policy than in yours. We have to show some moral commitment to not leaving others open. This is a moral imperative for us. We have to show it is not just for us, but for others too.

Brezhnev: Let me explain. I’m not rejecting this idea completely and out of hand, and I indeed agree with you. It is indeed impossible without some kind of concern for third countries, otherwise it would be kind of hard.

[Page 355]

I suggest we put a full stop after “themselves.” Then a separate sentence immediately following. We add: “The sides are also agreed to do all in their power to exclude the outbreak of nuclear war between either party and third countries.”

Dobrynin: In the same article.

Brezhnev: We’re in fact making it somewhat broader. We’re saying we do all we can. That in fact will be a broader interpretation.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, your Ambassador was so convincing when he criticized “do all we can.” Why don’t we use the same words as the Foreign Minister suggested: “act in such a manner as . . .”? Otherwise, it looks like we are doing it in a different way with third countries than with ourselves.

Brezhnev: The two powers can take obligations only on something they can agree to. But where they reach agreement on something like this, it is between them. In logic, with respect to third countries, it’s right to say it depends on them. So quite logically, it has to be a formulation that is somewhat different. Otherwise, someone will say “How can you take measures with third countries?” It’s a matter of iron logic.

Kissinger: The Foreign Minister will agree with me; not every Foreign Minister in the world has so subtle an intellect. If we say they have an obligation with the two, we can’t distinguish it from the second. I think we should either raise both to the same level, and either say “act in such a manner” or “do all in their power” in both. I must reiterate that the Foreign Minister’s logic and argument are extremely subtle.

I might add, as a logical point, that if one country acts so as to exclude nuclear war and the other country does not, it creates a new situation.

So we, Mr. General Secretary, to sum up—we agree with your proposal to separate the two ideas. The only counterproposal we make is to use the same phrase. “The two powers also agree they will act in such a manner so as to exclude . . .” Or, if you wish, we will say “do their utmost” in both sentences.

Brezhnev: After we’ve all thought this over, let me add, Dr. Kissinger, besides all the other qualities he has, he also has subtlety in logic. What pleases me most is that when we met on Lenin Hills I kept trying to get you to admit that Logic is Science. [laughter]

Let’s do this. In any event we have to introduce this element about third countries. I agree; that stems from the logic of this document and its substance. Therefore we will agree—you agreed we shall separate the obligation for us two from the obligation regarding third countries.

Kissinger: As long as the obligations are identical.

Brezhnev: Yes. So, full stop after “themselves.” Then, “the two parties also agree they will act in such a manner as to exclude the outbreak of nuclear war between either party and third countries.”

[Page 356]

Kissinger: All right. I accept that.

Brezhnev: So on the one hand, we separate the two forms, and on the other hand, we give emphasis to the second.

Kissinger: I will be criticized by Mr. Sonnenfeldt, but rather than argue for 15 minutes I will say the General Secretary has certainly improved the document.

Brezhnev: He shouldn’t say that.

Sonnenfeldt: I only criticized him for not doing it himself.

Brezhnev: It gives emphasis. It looks like an obligation on our part.

Kissinger: I agree.

I have a very stylistic point that I can raise with the Foreign Minister. It’s not important. Where it says “in such a manner as to . . .,” we should also say “as to avoid” and “as to exclude.” It makes no difference in Russian.

Brezhnev: [to Sukhodrev] It’s our obligation.

[At this point there was a short break]

Kissinger: We have improved the document.

Brezhnev: First we refer to ourselves, and then to what we will do jointly.

Kissinger: There is one logical [issue] which we have to straighten out. We should say “each will act in such a manner . . .”

Gromyko: It may be joint action, or separate action. It is not excluded. It could be either. This does not mean joint.

Kissinger: Yes, but here we’re talking about what the parties will do. Otherwise it would seem like joint action. Joint action is covered in Article IV.

Kornienko: But if that is accepted, you’ve contradicted your own formula for having them both the same.

Kissinger: Mr. Kornienko is right. We can accept “each” above, too. Or, because up above is clearly joint, we can explain the difference and leave “they” in the first phrase and have “each” below.

Brezhnev: By logic, there should not be the inference that in each and every case we will necessarily act together. But that’s what our formulation says, that “they will act in such a manner . . .” Surely, you can’t read into that a mandatory joint action in all cases. That formulation doesn’t necessarily mean there will be collective action.

Kissinger: Where we’re talking about our relations, it is all right to say “they will act.” But when you are speaking about intentions to third countries, it is important to avoid the impression that this refers only to joint action or primarily to joint action.

Brezhnev: Done. I agree. Then, “The two parties also agree that each of them will act in such a manner as to exclude an outbreak between themselves and third countries.”

[Page 357]

Kissinger: It will have to be “itself.” Could I have 15 minutes with Sonnenfeldt to find another objection?

Brezhnev: Banned.

Kissinger: Accepted.

Brezhnev: Agreed. The Preamble now?

Kissinger: That Foreign Minister—I hope you keep him busy on the Politburo with other matters. I hear that on the Politburo you don’t specialize.

Brezhnev: I tell you very confidentially we’re going to remove him from foreign affairs and put him in charge of agriculture [Laughter], and his main task will be to raise the milk yield of cows.

In the Preamble, you have this addition, “Proceeding equally from the desire to bring about conditions in which the danger of an outbreak of nuclear war anywhere in the world would be reduced and ultimately eliminated.”

Kissinger: It was your subtraction. An addition to your March draft.

Brezhnev: We accept it.

Kissinger: Oh, I’m so used to dealing with your North Vietnamese allies.

While we’re at it, we can drop “equally.” It makes no sense.

Kornienko: I was mystified by it.

Sonnenfeldt: It is from an earlier draft.

Brezhnev: Also in the Preamble you suggested transferring from Article II the words, “reaffirming that the development of U.S.-Soviet relations is not directed against third countries and their interests.” We agree. [Laughter] And that is the fourth time we have agreed.

Kissinger: I reject your acceptance! [Laughter]

Brezhnev: I see some respect is being shown to me. Anyway, if your side wants this in, we will accept. It is a “strike point,” right in the beginning. It is important to have it in there, because when people start to read this, they’ll see even before getting to the substance that we’re concerned about third countries.

Kissinger: I must say I now prefer that you don’t keep your Ambassador in Washington, because you are easier to deal with.

Brezhnev: We’ll keep him there a while longer; you can’t do without him.

Kissinger: I was joking. I must say he’s done well. He has made an enormous contribution to U.S.-Soviet relations.

Brezhnev: And also in the Preamble you proposed the transfer to the Preamble from Article VI the following words . . . I want once again to agree with you, but this is the last time. Any article.

[Page 358]

I still want to say a few words about the science of logic. I think every substantive article in the agreement should be higher in meaning than the Preamble. In the Preamble we should have general objectives, but in every article there should be substantive obligations. In Article VI [of the Soviet draft of March 21, Tab B]6 we have the following words: “the obligations undertaken by the United States and the Soviet Union towards third countries in appropriate treaties and agreements.” You want to transfer the words “in conformity with the various agreements to which either has subscribed.” We prefer to leave them where they were, in paragraph (c) of [our] Article VI. We think this weakens it. Our purpose is to heighten the assurance to third countries. We think it would improve the text.

Kissinger: Can we reserve this until we get to Article VI?

Brezhnev: Certainly.

Dobrynin: But we don’t have anything else on Article VI.

Kissinger: Yes, but we were going through this systematically. Can we take a short break on this Article VI?

[There was a break from 8:15–9:26 p.m.]

Kissinger: When we go hunting you’ll have a boar with a weak heart standing by.

Brezhnev: We can go watch them feed. It will take one-half hour.

Kissinger: We’d be delighted.

We can leave it in Preamble, this phrase “and in conformity with the various agreements to which either has subscribed.” Our suggestion is, we write Article VI (c): “the obligations entered into by the United States and Soviet Union towards their allies or other third countries in appropriate treaties and undertakings.” And let me explain why we use the word “undertakings” rather than “agreements.” Let me explain. If you say “agreements” it implies bilaterally. But we have a number of obligations in which the President may have said . . . Take the Monroe Doctrine. That’s not an agreement; it’s a unilateral American undertaking.

There are a number of situations in the world where we’ve undertaken a unilateral obligation where there was no agreement in the formal sense. If we say here “agreements,” there would be some ambiguity. So we want to say “in appropriate agreements and undertakings.”

Gromyko: As a rule, today agreements and treaties are something published. But if you take unilateral undertakings it might be some[Page 359]thing no one knows about. Unilateral is much easier to keep secret, and there are probably 1,000 times more unilateral undertakings than treaties and agreements. We’d then simply be losing ground from under our feet.

Kissinger: We can leave it out altogether.

Gromyko: We’re not saying unilateral undertakings are being left null and void; we’re only saying agreements are valid. They’re unilateral because they’re not incorporated in agreements.

Kissinger: No, if we make a unilateral undertaking towards, say, Bulgaria, then whether you agree with it is immaterial, as long as Bulgaria agrees with it. I used a theoretical case; I don’t want to get your Bulgarian friends in trouble.

Gromyko: That’s not characteristic. There are many unilateral undertakings not acknowledged or accepted by others.

Kissinger: That’s a different case. In 1971, during the India–Pakistan crisis we called to your attention a letter President Kennedy had written to Ayub Khan in 1962,7 with the agreement of Ayub Khan. Indeed at his request. Now, that is not a formal agreement. But it was also an undertaking of the U.S. and it produced an obligation.

Brezhnev: Much as I want an agreement on all this—and you’ve seen evidence of this—this is something the Soviet Union cannot accept under any circumstances. And I’ll explain why. And, if for instance, if we write it into this, the first thing that comes to mind is a statement the President made in China. You recall what he said—in effect, “that the great American people would be together with great Chinese people.”8 At the banquet. I asked you about it. We didn’t make trouble about it. You gave us an explanation.

We certainly know President Nixon is a highly educated man and politician. You know what our reaction was. On no occasion did we return to that, nor will we. But if we inscribe this in the agreements, people will ask about this statement by the President: Is this an obligation to China? This would mean we would be referring to these statements. And I may have made statements like this, about “American imperialism,” etc. But we’re trying to do something else here.

[Page 360]

It would apply to undertakings of yours to South Korea, and South Vietnam. If we start interpreting obligations in the broader way, we’d be putting the entire agreement in a difficult way.

I’ve done some reflecting on Article I, and I would accept leaving it as you suggested—without a full stop. To leave it as your original wording. We’d then not be complicating matters. And, in substance, we accept two of your additions to the Preamble. Then as regards the phrase in the Preamble, we would leave the phrase “in conformity with the various agreements to which either has subscribed.” And repeat this idea as it stands in Article VI, that is, “obligations undertaken by the United States and the Soviet Union toward third countries in appropriate treaties and agreements.”

Gromyko: In the Preamble, without word “various.”

Kissinger: We can do without “various.”

Kissinger/Sonnenfeldt: Take out “the” also.

Brezhnev: If you take this addition in the Preamble you get two things—the Charter of the UN and “in conformity with agreements . . .”

Gromyko: You don’t need “various.”

Kissinger: Agreed.

Gromyko: The Preamble, “in conformity with agreements,” but leave Article VI as follows: “obligations undertaken by the United States and the Soviet Union towards third countries . . .”

Kissinger: Ours says “towards their allies or other third countries.”

Dobrynin: We can do that.

Kissinger: I still regret the paragraph in Article I we worked so hard on.

Sukhodrev reads: “The obligations undertaken by the United States and the Soviet Union towards their allies and third countries in appropriate treaties and agreements.”

Brezhnev: [Gets up, turns TV on.] You’re going to be on TV, showing you resisting agreement. I’ve seen films of you taken in the U.S.

Kissinger: Where? [Laughter] I’ve asked General Antonov but he won’t answer. Could he give me, for my memoirs, the dossier he has on me? It would save me collecting material.

Brezhnev: Antonov’s functions are only internal. Honestly.

Kissinger: I know. Can we take a short break?

Brezhnev: I must say, I’m pleased with how we have been negotiating.

Kissinger: It’s a serious document and will have very great significance.

[There was a short break—10:05–10:30]

[Page 361]

Kissinger: We understand your point about banquet speeches and implied understandings.

Brezhnev: Please, Dr. Kissinger, don’t repeat that particular part of the conversation to the President.

Kissinger: No, but it was a very good illustration.

Brezhnev: It could be asked of you by anybody.

Kissinger: On the other hand, we’re concerned, as I pointed out, with matters that are not necessarily formal agreements but nevertheless have a certain formality. And, therefore, we’d like to propose the following: “towards their allies or other third countries in treaties, agreements and other appropriate instruments.” So it’s clear we’re not talking about speeches.

I must explain, I must discuss this with the President. He’s gone over this very carefully.

Gromyko: In fact, in Russian “treaties and agreements” covers all situations.

Kissinger: In fact, “appropriate instruments” would cover situations like Israel. I’m being honest with the General Secretary, as he is with me. This is more relevant than the China case.

Nothing is accomplished if after this agreement so many explanations have to be given that the document is rendered worthless.

Brezhnev: I don’t think it is worthless.

Kissinger: No, I think it will be an important document. If you want to say “documents,” it’s all right.

Aleksandrov: It’s only one word in Russian.

Dobrynin: Do you have a document with Israel?

Kissinger: There are so many Presidential letters on the subject that it’s covered. But I wouldn’t include speeches.

Sukhodrev: Read it again.

Kissinger: [Reads it again] “Towards their allies or other third countries in treaties, agreements and other appropriate instruments.” The word “appropriate” also puts it on a level with treaties and agreements.

Gromyko: In Russian, you don’t need “other third countries.” Don’t need “third.”

Kissinger: That’s a good point. We’re really improving the document.

Gromyko: We’re trying to facilitate it.

Kissinger: I know.

Brezhnev: We agree.

So, we’re all set on the Preamble?

[Page 362]

Kissinger: I wanted to save this for the end, but since the General Secretary raised it . . . We can’t oppose an article we had proposed. But we think the version we worked out before [Article I with two sentences], while it changes nothing and is no different, will have a very helpful psychological impact. The version the General Secretary and I worked out would frankly help us in Washington when we send this back. Even more importantly, when published, it would have a very great symbolic impact to single this out. Therefore, I’d like to put to the General Secretary that separation of these two ideas would give the first paragraph a great impact and end the need for explanations which there would be if they were run together. And, since part of the impact will be psychological . . . But I don’t insist.

Brezhnev: I’m giving up my version and agreeing with the original one—“and third countries.” Are we agreed on the Preamble, and Article I?

Kissinger: For tonight. [Laughter] No, it is agreed.

Brezhnev: So, that’s done. Article II, I’d suggest dropping, “and also from encouraging any third country in the use of force.” We don’t need that.

Kissinger: Yes. All right. Article III.

Brezhnev: Brandt may not like that.

Kissinger: You’ll see him before we do.

Brezhnev: You just saw him.

Kissinger: But we didn’t show him the document.

Brezhnev: We had two meetings with him. I must say we’ve gone a long way with him. I see no particular difficulty in a meeting with Brandt.

Kissinger: I think so.

Brezhnev: The main road has been traversed, and the basic issue will be how to develop further relations and friendly atmosphere between the two countries, in the economic field, technological cooperation, trade, things like that. When I spoke with him at Oreanda, he had some views of his own on the situation in Europe and force reductions in Europe. He was modifying his views, and it will take another meeting with him.

Kissinger: I think his basic direction is a positive one.

Brezhnev: And I don’t expect, and don’t have any intention of, going into anything anti-American.

So what else do we have?

Kissinger: We’ve got one suggestion for Article IV. It was our article, and it was bad drafting. Our concern is not to appear that we have the right to settle conflicts involving other countries. Here. [Hands over [Page 363] Tab C] I’ve underlined what is new.9 It makes it exactly coterminous with Article I.

Brezhnev: I’ll tell you, to accept the wording of Article IV as it stood took some courage, on both our sides. I’d say your addition would tend to soften the significance of our agreement. It would then appear that in some part of the world, if a danger occurred, we couldn’t even enter into consultations. There are certain things in this agreement relating not to us but relating to the danger of war in the world. Consultations don’t mean that after consultations we immediately become allies and attack somebody. If we consult, we might decide to make a joint approach to the UN Security Council or General Assembly or something else. It doesn’t mean we become allies.

Kissinger: Nothing prevents us from having consultations. But this is a formal obligation in this agreement. Even with the qualification we made, there is a major requirement for consultation in most conceivable circumstances. For all the matters under Article I, the two sides consult.

Gromyko: What we have here, what you say is that the situation arises only if a danger of war between the U.S. and USSR is involved. You know certain countries haven’t signed the Non Proliferation Treaty. What if certain countries—I won’t name them, say X, Y, Z—are getting weapons and start a war. What do we do? No might?

Kissinger: We always have the right to consult.

Gromyko: Why not provide it?

Kissinger: May I point out that this was really the idea of the Soviet draft of July 21 and September 21,10 in which you only referred to the danger of war involving us.

Dobrynin: But the idea goes back to the draft handed to Brezhnev by the President last May.11

Kornineko: We took it from the President.

Kissinger: But that draft wasn’t approved by Sonnenfeldt.

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, could you tell me what is the motive behind this addition?

Kissinger: Yes, I’ll explain to you. As I pointed out this morning, we’ll have formidable difficulty with this with friends and with those who’ll say this is an American-Soviet attempt to run the world. So we’d [Page 364] like to confine it for these purposes to those subject matters covered in Articles I and II, and also make an effort to avoid the risk. This doesn’t mean in the communiqué we can’t have a more sweeping clause about consultations. We’d certainly consider the communiqué an “appropriate instrument.”

Gromyko: Provided it is bilateral!

Kissinger: So we think this would, for purposes of this agreement—this is already an important step forward.

Brezhnev: It narrows it down though.

Kissinger: It narrows it somewhat from the Article we in fact gave you. It was never in a Soviet draft.

Dobrynin: It became common property!

Kissinger: No, I understand.

Gromyko: We have this text given us by President Nixon last year, “in event of conflict . . .” The minimum effort we can make is consultations.

Kissinger: Yes, but we’ve studied the problem.

Kornienko: It’s the minimum.

Kissinger: I can say in the Soviet drafts of July and September . . .

Kornienko: In July we used the President’s text.

Kissinger: Also, you have to remember it was a general declaration [last May] not a treaty. In any case, we find ourselves in the position of the General Secretary after the break, when he reconsidered Article I.

Brezhnev: I wanted to go to Washington; now you’re standing in the way.

Kissinger: [Laughs] We’ll definitely meet in Washington.

Brezhnev: I was getting ready, already wanting to know the weather, whether it will be too hot or too cold.

Kissinger: It won’t be too cold.

Brezhnev: I guess I’ll just have to go to Honolulu and go back.

Kissinger: I guarantee you will receive a very warm reception.

Brezhnev: We agree with the President that in view of our relationship we should meet every year—1973, 1974, 1975, 1976.

Let’s leave this as it was.

Kissinger: No, that we can’t do.

Brezhnev: Then what do we do? Can we think it over overnight?

Kissinger: Certainly.

Dobrynin: Can you inform the President of my personal request.

Kissinger: Yes.

Brezhnev: We can consider the rest as agreed?

[Page 365]

Kissinger: No, I have to consult the President about [your] Article VI.12 And we have Article V.

Brezhnev: Your Article V. We don’t have it at all.

Kissinger: I’m beginning to wonder about your Ambassador.

Brezhnev: You can at least praise him.

Kissinger: You don’t have it? Doesn’t he transmit it?

Dobrynin: He has it.

Kissinger: He just doesn’t want it. OK. I’ll agree to drop it.

Brezhnev: At our meetings, we and the President will agree on who we want to be doing these consultations. It should be at least on the level of you and Gromyko or me and the President.

Kissinger: Absolutely.

Brezhnev: I’ll write him a letter, or he’ll write one, or you will go to Geneva. Now, Article VII in our text. We have the following Article VII; “this Treaty will be of unlimited duration. Done in Washington,” etc.

Kissinger: We accept. [Kornienko hands over the copy Tab D.]13

Brezhnev: [Gets bottle of brandy] Dr. Kissinger, I shall be hoping to get a positive reply from the President concerning our work. Then we’ll celebrate properly. The President is a long way away, and you and I can have a preliminary treat. I put this [brand] preliminarily on the paper, and give it to you as a souvenir.

Kissinger: If you hear someone singing under your window, you’ll know who it is!

Brezhnev: A serenade.

Kissinger: Let me speak frankly. I’m quite optimistic about Article VI. But less so regarding Article IV. I’ll put the General Secretary’s request to the President. But I wanted to be honest with the General Secretary regarding the situation.

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, I have the feeling, on the basis of personal relations between the President and myself and proceeding from the objectives we are both seeking, I’m sure he’ll give it appropriate consideration.

Kissinger: I don’t want to raise false hopes. I know the President. You’ve dealt with me enough to know that very often I can decide it. But in this case he’s taken a very direct and personal interest, and recognizing the significance of this document. . . .

Brezhnev: You know how you can be of one opinion, and sleep on it. Just as we agreed to your amendments.

[Page 366]

Kissinger: But they are all in the Preamble!

Dobrynin: And Article I.

Brezhnev: The whole agreement is important.

Kissinger: But no one derives obligations from the Preamble.

Brezhnev: Let me say I am sure we will agree tomorrow. Once we agree on it here, we can get it approved by our leadership and you and Gromyko can initial it here.

Kissinger: Initial it while I am here? I can certainly get the President’s approval. But no one here knows of this. For us to initial an agreement that no lawyer has looked at is an irregular procedure.

We know that our relationship with you is involved here.

Brezhnev: But when you came here, we did not change anything we had agreed.

Kissinger: What I would like to do is let lawyers look at it and have the translations checked. We won’t change any of it. And initial it within a week.

Brezhnev: My request does not mean you have to tell your lawyers you have signed something. But it would make for greater stability. It is one thing if technical questions arise. I have no doubts about the Russian text. I am sure you have no doubts about the English text.

Kissinger: But you have had all the resources of the Foreign Ministry at your disposal, through the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I have done this on my own, with the President.

Brezhnev: We have only a restricted group in the Foreign Ministry working on this.

Kissinger: But in any case he has been able to check it with a restricted group of experts.

Brezhnev: On this side I am the lawyer—I am ready to assume responsibility. The Government, the Politburo and the Supreme Soviet all trust me in elaborating this.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, my megalomania is well developed, but I would not presume to possess the same degree of authority as the General Secretary. But I must say there is no example where if I tell you the President agrees on the substance of an agreement you need fear we will reopen negotiations on substance.

You will be able to report to your colleagues—if we agree tomorrow—that it is agreed.

We know the importance of this to our relations. It would defeat our entire purpose if we tried to reopen it.

Brezhnev: In short, I had those two personal requests—one on the article and on the initialing. It would not be formal initialing, but just . . .

[Page 367]

Kissinger: What is the difference?

Gromyko: Well, let us say that this would be defacto initialing but without any legal procedures. And as in the case of any initialing, it would mean that the text has been agreed upon.

Kissinger: What we could do is say it has been agreed in substance, but subject to legal and translation review.

Gromyko: Subject to legal approval.

Kissinger: The lawyers will have to check on whether we say “parties” or “signatures.” It says “United States and Soviet Union.” Should it say USSR? There are so many legal things. I am talking about form, not substance.

Brezhnev: Well, anyway, communicate my requests to the President, and add my regards and my respects.

Kissinger: This I will do. But on initialing, I do want to say the issues we will raise will not have to involve you. We are talking about minor technical issues.

Brezhnev: I will be hoping you will get the President’s consent tomorrow.

Kissinger: Well, initialing is almost impossible for us. What I can do is give you assurance that the substance is agreed upon. In writing, if you want it. That I can do.

When we are preparing for the Summit meeting, there is no possibility we would engage in a maneuver and overturn it. No possibility whatever. I will be glad to give you this assurance in writing.

Brezhnev: So I guess the best thing we can do now is recess. Or set up a Joint Soviet-American Commission! Let Sonnenfeldt and the Ambassador work until morning.

Kissinger: As a practical matter, what we will have to do is get a lawyer together with your Embassy and go over this. It would take two days. We could even have a formal initialing. It is agreed then.

Brezhnev: Yes.

Kissinger: It will be our easiest problem. To get an answer we will need until tomorrow afternoon. We will do other business tomorrow.

Brezhnev: We will have a great deal of work ahead on other issues, which I believe will be easier. There will also be certain questions on which I would like to gain your advice.

I want to confirm once again that we have not been consulting with anyone. But already it has been agreed I will be in West Germany on the 18th. Herr Brandt has visited with President Nixon. I will not raise any question on this, but he may. So I would certainly like to have the benefit of your advice. I am not asking for an answer today, but I would like your advice. Also certain matters of a sensitive nature.

[Page 368]

And I think we should determine the final date for the visit. And the schedule. I have no claims or special requests and I would be happy to follow any advice of the President. Personally I would like to devote the maximum attention to discussions. The rest should be only an “applied aspect.” It is always interesting to see things and places, but that is not the objective of the visit. On all these things we should be as clear as possible.

Now, all this brings me to this view. I would like Dr. Kissinger to be here on the 5th, 6th, 7th and also the 8th of May at Zavidovo. I will write a personal letter to the President that after my visit I am asking him to give Dr. Kissinger to have the opportunity to visit Moscow for four days, when in practice you will see Leningrad and see Giselle and the Black Sea.

Kissinger: I must say the General Secretary has got more mileage out of the prospect of my visiting Leningrad than out of an actual visit. [Laughter]

Brezhnev: Now you have come in a good mood.

Kissinger: I am beginning to doubt whether there is such a thing as the ballet in the Soviet Union and whether Leningrad exists. [Laughter]

Brezhnev: There is! It does!

Kissinger: I agree. We should do everything to prepare the visit.

Brezhnev: I may also thank you for the souvenir I received today. But I took care even in Moscow to get something for you. What I selected has been sent over from Moscow for your colleagues.

Kissinger: But we can not take a boar on a plane. [To Sukhodrev] Did you translate the boars in this neighborhood are believing in God again?

Brezhnev: Every boar we shot here is sent to a special laboratory. There have been occasions of one out of one hundred or so where the laboratory says the boar is no good. But otherwise they are in very good condition. They are well prepared. Frozen stiff. You get good clean meat like in the butcher shop. You can bring back a boar to prove you shot it. It looks like real.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, If I shot a boar, I will know you had someone in the bushes. Or that it had a weak heart.

Brezhnev: I won’t tell you who it was, but one winter we had a high-ranking guest, and went out to get a moose. A professional hunter was standing near the guest. The moose came running toward the guest and he fired his gun. We could see he had missed, but the professional hunter fired at the same instant and the reports coincided. He had the complete illusion he had done it.

Kissinger: That will happen to me!

[Page 369]

Brezhnev: We all congratulated him. We use a rifle, not a shotgun. A Bullet. A very powerful rifle too. A 9 mm bullet.

Hyland: An AK–47.

Brezhnev: I try to get him in that area [the back of the neck]. If you shot him in the heart, he can still go 200 yards.

Kissinger: That is encouraging.

Gromyko: The tusks can be as big as this [holds up a large pen]. There was one occasion on which the boar ran upstairs of the tower after me! [Laughter]

Brezhnev: Many a huntsman’s tale is told during a hunt—but many things happen in reality too.

Myself, Kosygin and Marshal Malinovski were meeting with Gomulka, Kliszko, and Cyrankievis,14 and we met at a reserve which is partly in Belorussian territory and partly in Poland. We went to the Belorussian part. You do it on towers, and we were out to shoot boar. It was autumn, we use grain and potatoes as the bait. There are also bison in that area. After two hours we don’t see Malinovsky around any more. We were hungry, we wanted to eat. We waited two hours more. We began to get concerned. Finally he came. He said, “A bison came up, ate the grain and potatoes, went up to the tower and fell asleep on the steps.” You can’t shoot bison. It’s prohibited. Malinovski shouted at him, and stamped his feet, but couldn’t get him off the tower steps! A hunter finally chased him with his car!

Once a boar chased Gromyko and Grechko up a tower!

Kissinger: What if you aim for the neck and hit the behind?

Brezhnev: He chases the hunter.

Kissinger: That’s what I suspected!

Brezhnev: Once or twice some boars chased humans. They were two males, probably wounded ones. A hunter had to chase them. They said to me, go shoot it. My doctor was with me. There were several of us. When the boars saw us, they all fled, except one that ran toward us. I climbed out of the car. Everyone else stayed in the car and shouted at me to get back in. I held the door open and stood on the ground. I decided to see how good a shot I was and what courage I had. I let him approach to ten meters and fired at the middle of his head. He fell on the spot.

[Page 370]

Once I ran into one. With a flashlight, I found a female with small ones. I fired at it. She reared up and fell dead.

I’ve been here 15 years. Those were the only two times I’ve ever seen them head for men. Usually they run away.

Hyland: Tomorrow will be the third.

Kissinger: Statistics never help you when you’re the victim!

Brezhnev: Maybe they’ll be attracted by hearing a foreign language. So you’d better speak only Russian.

[The meeting then adjourned.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at Brezhnev’s office in the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original.
  2. Umberto Nobile (1885–1978), an Italian aeronautical engineer best known for having flown over the North Pole from Europe to Alaska. On an expedition in May 1928, Nobile and his crew crashed leading to an international search.
  3. A reference to C. Northcote Parkinson’s Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress (London, 1958), based on Parkinson’s experience in the British Civil Service.
  4. Attached but not printed. See Documents 85 and 95.
  5. In his second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1973, Nixon stated: “We shall continue, in this era of negotiation, to work for the limitation of nuclear arms and to reduce the danger of confrontation between the great powers.” For the full text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pp. 12–15.
  6. Attached but not printed. See Document 85.
  7. For the text of Kennedy’s December 5, 1962, letter to Pakistani President Ayub Khan, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume XIX, South Asia, Document 217.
  8. At a banquet in Beijing, February 21, 1972, Nixon stated: “the Chinese people are a great people, the American people are a great people. If our two people are enemies the future of this world we share together is dark indeed. But if we can find common ground to work together, the chance for world peace is immeasurably increased.” For the full text of Nixon’s toast, made during his trip to China, February 21–28, 1972, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 368–369.
  9. Attached but not printed. The underlined portion of the new U.S. draft of Article IV, dealing with bilateral consultations to avert war, reads: “the risk of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union or between either of them and third countries.”
  10. See Document 17 and footnotes 17 and 18, Document 55.
  11. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 299.
  12. See Document 106.
  13. Attached but not printed.
  14. Marshal Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovsky, Soviet Minister of Defense, 1957–1967; Wladyslaw Gomulka, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party, 1956–1970; Zenon Kliszko was a close associate of Gomulka’s and the Polish Communist Party’s ideologist; Jozef Cyrankiewicz, Premier of the People’s Republic of Poland, 1947–1952 and 1954–1970, and also Chairman of the State Council in Poland, 1970–1972.