211. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon 1

I would like to express to you, dear Mr. President, some considerations regarding the situation that is shaping up at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. We shall certainly touch on this theme during our forthcoming talks in Moscow. However, in view of the urgency of this issue it is useful even now, in our opinion, to exchange views on it.

The completion of the Conference has been unjustifiedly delayed. The deliberations in Geneva have been going on extremely slow, sometimes the proceedings are being bogged down in trivia. It looks like the trivia overshadows the principal mission of the Conference, i.e. to consolidate the relaxation of tensions in Europe and beyond, to provide for peace and reliable security, which are the only conditions that can make a wide-range cooperation between the states in various fields possible. Sometimes we are confronted with proposals—I would like to note at once that they come not from the US—which are either plainly unacceptable or are not yet ripe for a decision, while the discussions on them result in unproductive waste of efforts and time. Some people start talking to the effect that the work of the Conference should be suspended for the summer or even for a longer period of time.

The Conference has been going on already for almost a year. Practically all the questions under discussion have been thoroughly reviewed, many of them several times over. On a number of aspects, including some major and important ones, agreement has been reached among all the participants with the balance of interests of the sides being found, and those interests are of course far from being homogeneous. We view that as an encouraging basis for the final success of the Conference.

As for the still unresolved questions, it appeared here with adequate certainty as well what was common in the positions of the participants and where they differ. Actually it is clear to everyone which proposals can be accepted and which cannot.

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If to remain on the realistic grounds, then it is possible to reach relatively soon mutually acceptable decisions on the pending questions related to all items on the agenda. In other words it is quite possible to secure in a document agreements which would correspond to the degree of the relaxation of tensions achieved at present in Europe and in the world as a whole, to the level of mutual understanding, being established between the states after a long period of tensions and mistrust.

In future, with the deepening of present positive processes in the world, the results of the Conference, this first international forum in the modern history of Europe, could be expanded and enriched along the line of relaxation and confidence.

With such an approach the assets accumulated at the Conference allow, so to say, to enter the final lap, to make the final thrust towards the completion of the work of the Conference within the shortest period of time, and mainly, with solid achievements which would reflect the coincidence of interests of all the participants, above all in the cardinal question of strengthening peace, security and cooperation in Europe.

I hope you will agree with me that to put the Conference in a top gear a strong political impetus is needed, and first of all the one coming from the top leaders of the countries, interested in its success. The Soviet-American mutual understanding on the issues of the Conference has always been of prime importance for moving the Conference ahead. It pertains also to the known understanding reached between A.A. Gromyko and H. Kissinger which, we hope, will make it possible to untangle the questions of item 3 of the Agenda discussed at this time in Geneva.

We would like to hope that now too at this turning phase of a sort in the work of the Conference, both our countries will act in the spirit of the established mutual understanding and will jointly facilitate the speediest conclusion of this major international undertaking.

There is one more point to which I would like to draw your attention. We believe that one of the possibilities to make the work of the Conference more active is for the countries, which of course would desire to do so, to send to the conclusive part of the second stage of the Conference in Geneva the representatives of a sufficiently high rank who would be authorized to make appropriate decisions there.

We are convinced as before that the results of the Conference would have historical importance for all the future course of events in Europe in the direction of peace, relaxation of tensions and cooperation and they deserve to be sealed by the authority of the supreme leaders of the participating states. There are objective possibilities for bringing the Conference within a short period of time to a successful conclusion. We believe that they should be used to the fullest extent.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Office Files, Box 69, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 21. No classification marking. A notation at the top of the letter reads: “Delivered from Soviet Embassy, 7:00 p.m., Sat., 6/8/74.” Dobrynin informed Kissinger of the letter’s arrival in a telephone conversation on June 8. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Transcripts (Telcons), Box 26, Chronological File)