172. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU
  • President Ford
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Counsellor, Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Interpreter)

[Soviet memcon of private conversation reconstructed from scraps of paper retrieved from Brezhnev’s ashtray in Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, after CSCE plenary, by Jan Lodal, NSC staff.2 Translated and supplemented by Alexander Akalovsky, who also overheard part of the private conversation.]

After a discussion with G. Ford in the presence of others, a short conversation took place eye to eye.

L.I. Brezhnev: I wish to tell you confidentially and completely frankly that we in the Soviet leadership are supporters of your election as President to a new term as well. And we for our part will do everything we can to make that happen.

G. Ford: I thank you for that. I expect to be elected and I think that that meets the interests of the further development of Soviet-American relations, and of the cause of strengthening détente.

L.I. Brezhnev: Yes, on this matter we agree with you that this is precisely how it should be. Unfortunately, however, publicly you call us, the Soviet Union, adversaries, and in your conversations with us you say that we have common goals—transformation of détente into an irreversible process.

G. Ford: I can assure you, in full frankness, that I am absolutely prepared to dedicate all my efforts precisely to ensuring that relations between our countries develop steadily, and that détente becomes irreversible.

[This private conversation took place following the President’s and Brezhnev’s exchanges with media representatives outside the American Ambassador’s residence. As Brezhnev moved to his car, he was overheard asking Sukhodrev if his remarks to the President might have been caught by the correspondents. Sukhodrev assured him that, [Page 704] in interpreting, he had deliberately lowered his voice so that only the President could hear him.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, 1974–1976, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, July 30–August 2, 1975—Ford/Brezhnev Meetings in Helsinki (CSCE). Secret; Nodis. Brackets are in the original. The meeting was held outside the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence after the plenary meeting.
  2. The reconstructed Russian document is attached.