261. Message From the Ambassador to Germany (Rush) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

On my return from the States Thursday for the Berlin talks yesterday, Jonathan Dean, my political counselor and principal assistant in the talks, told me of a disturbing situation which is difficult to analyze. For secrecy reason, I waited until returning to Bonn to send this message about it.

At the advisors meeting on June 9, Kvitsinskiy, the Russian advisor, prematurely and in violation of our understanding introduced the draft of preamble as tentatively agreed upon between Bahr, Falin and me and this was resisted by Dean and the French and British advisors. Bahr and I discussed this incident with you in Washington.2 At this June 9 meeting, Kvitsinskiy called Dean aside and expressed surprise that Dean had opposed the draft. Kvitsinskiy told Dean that there existed a direct, very high-level link between Moscow and Washington on the subject matter of the Berlin talks. The existence of this was very tightly held, and Kvitsinskiy had been told that he was not authorized to know of it and was not to mention the subject to anyone. He assumed Dean knew of this link and had expected, therefore, that, since the draft of preamble he had presented came out of this link, Dean would support it.3

Dean, of course, truthfully replied that he knew nothing whatever of any such arrangement, and Kvitsinskiy then urged Dean to call me in Washington to get some word of it. Dean refused and said he would await my return. Yesterday, during a break in our talks,4 Kvitsinskiy again asked Dean about the matter and whether he had any information from me. Dean said no.

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It is a tribute to Dean’s discretion and loyalty that he has told no one except me about this, and I have strictly instructed him not to mention it to anyone. I have full confidence in his integrity, after working closely with him for almost two years, and feel sure he will follow my instructions. At the same time he is very intelligent and with this incident following upon the earlier Abrasimov one about a secret top level link,5 he must have strong suspicions. He further told me that Kvitsinsky had recently been to Bonn to see Falin. This doubtless strengthens any suspicions he may have.

The explanation for this action by Kvitsinskiy is difficult to find. At first I thought it was a deliberate attempt to sabotage your channel, particularly since this is the second incident of mentioning a secret channel and since, after the first one, you with Dobrynin and I with Abrasimov and Falin made such strong representations. It may be, however, that Kvitsinskiy really thought that Dean knew about the channel, and this view is reinforced by the fact that Dean told me yesterday that Kvitsinskiy, several weeks ago, had also mentioned to Dean something about a secret, high level link. At the time Dean had just ignored the reference.

The meeting between Bahr, Falin and me has been advanced to Monday6 and at that time I intend to tell Falin about this and insist it not happen again. I shall do this in low key, however, so as not to ruin Kvitsinskiy for the negotiations, in the event he is only guilty of a bad indiscretion. Dean and Kvitsinskiy have developed a close relationship which is very valuable to us, and it would be a mistake to kill this relationship. Accordingly, I think it would be best if you do not mention this situation to Dobrynin, who might take strong action.

At a large “summer fest” hosted by Brandt last evening, I told Bahr about this incident and he is as baffled by it as I am. I also saw Falin there, and he was quite affable and relaxed. At yesterday’s talks, Abrasimov also was quite conciliatory. All this lends weight to the view that Kvitsinskiy was really indiscreet, not part of a sabotage conspiracy. (Incidentally, Bahr told me that Falin was very suspicious about the postponement of our talks, and seemed to think it resulted not from a [Page 764] misunderstanding but from the fact that the U.S. really does not want a Berlin agreement.)7

My talks with you and the President were invaluable to me and I am very grateful for them. I will keep you advised concerning the talks with Falin and Bahr next week.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. A handwritten notation reads “No Dissem.” The message was sent through the special Navy channel in Frankfurt. No time of transmission is on the message; a handwritten notation indicates that it was received in Washington at 1855Z.
  2. No record of this discussion has been found; see footnote 1, Document 257.
  3. For memoir accounts of this meeting, see Bahr, Zu meiner Zeit, pp. 364–365; Falin, Politische Erinnerungen, pp. 168–169; and Kvitsinsky, Vor dem Sturm, pp. 243–246.
  4. In a June 28 memorandum to the President, Kissinger noted that the Ambassadorial meeting of June 25 “produced no dramatic results. Ambassador Rush told the Soviets that a point had been reached in the negotiations which would permit us to begin forward movement on the issue of Soviet interests in West Berlin. The Ambassador offered no details, suggested that the advisers discuss it and mildly linked progress on this issue to resolution of other outstanding points such as access and foreign representation.” Kissinger further reported: “Noting that Ambassador Rush had presumably received final instructions from Washington, and that the French and British Ambassadors would soon have their instructions, Abrasimov commented that he had several occasions to speak with Brezhnev during his recent visit to East Berlin and that accordingly, he had received his own final instructions—implying that the negotiations had entered the concluding phase.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 34, President’s Daily Briefs, June 17–30, 1971)
  5. Reference is presumably to the incident of March 23, when, during a meeting with American officials in Berlin, Kvitsinsky alluded to “recent contact between Soviet and US Governments,” implying the channel between Kissinger and Dobrynin in Washington. See Document 207.
  6. June 28.
  7. For Bahr’s report on his effort to allay Falin’s suspicions, see Document 259.