331. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
- The Brandt–Brezhnev Meeting in the Crimea
Chancellor Brandt spent some 16 hours in conversation with Brezhnev during their recent meeting. Brandt wrote to you immediately upon his return, and his special adviser, Egon Bahr, gave Ambassador Rush a special briefing.2 The translation of Brandt’s letter is at Tab A.[Page 924]
Brandt’s report of his conversations borders on the euphoric. In fact, however, on most of the issues—mutual force reductions (MBFR) and a European security conference (CES)—Brandt seems to have largely gone along with Soviet views. In response to Brezhnev’s pressure for an early CES, according to a [less than 1 line not declassified] report [less than 1 line not declassified],3 Brandt agreed that there should be a preliminary conference (which is a Soviet view). He told Brezhnev that this was in accord with a discussion he had had with you on this subject.4
On MBFR prospects Brandt seems to have implied that MBFR could await the convocation of a CES. This contrasts with the US position that the issue of force level reduction is independent of a CES and should proceed as soon as possible without regard to the possibilities for convening a CES. Brandt also seems to have secured Brezhnev’s support for the position the Germans have been pressing within NATO that national forces (German) should be reduced in addition to stationed (US) forces, and that the area of reductions should be wider than both Germanies.
Brezhnev applied very heavy pressure on Brandt on the question of the ratification of the Moscow treaty. (According to a [less than 1 line not declassified] report,5 Brezhnev advised Brandt that his Chancellorship would be wrecked if the treaty is not ratified expeditiously; Brandt said it would be within five months.) On the one issue which Brezhnev could have been helpful to Brandt—the impasse over the inner-German Berlin negotiations—he refused. Indeed, Brezhnev’s advisers warned the Brandt party not to raise it again, lest Brezhnev become extremely angry.
The upshot of this seems to be that increasingly Brandt’s position is mortgaged to Brezhnev, that Brezhnev will demand further installments in each succeeding phase. In this contest, Secretary Rogers points out in the memorandum at Tab B6 that Brandt has allowed the impression to grow out of the meeting of widespread agreement and growing friendship between the FRG and the USSR, which in turn will permit the Soviets to exert greater influence in FRG policy.
There have been some interesting comments on Brezhnev’s personality and range of interests. Brandt found Brezhnev to be more relaxed [Page 925], and self-confident than during their meeting in Moscow last year. Brandt was impressed with Brezhnev’s much greater grasp of the subject matter (last year, for example, he relied heavily on prepared material and frequently read from it, but this year he only occasionally consulted the few papers in evidence). It emerged from the conversations that Brezhnev has assumed a particular responsibility for foreign relations with Western Europe and the US, whereas Kosygin concentrates on the Near East, Algeria and Scandinavia and Podgorny on Asia.
Similar impressions were received by the French Ambassador in Moscow. In a highly unusual if not unprecedented initiative, Brezhnev called in the French Ambassador to brief him (for conveyance to Pompidou) immediately following his return from the Crimea. In the two year interval since the Ambassador had seen Brezhnev, he appeared a “changed man.” He was now thoroughly confident, relaxed and poised—even to new tailoring and manicuring. The Ambassador said that two years ago Brezhnev acted and dressed like a chief engineer of a factory, but now he behaves and looks like the owner.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 753, President’s Correspondence File, Germany, Chancellor Brandt, 1971. Secret. Sent for information. A note attached to the memorandum indicates that the President saw it on October 4. In a September 20 memorandum forwarding a draft to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt commented: “I have not tried to critique the Soviet visit for the President, but from our point of view it is pretty bad.” Kissinger wrote in the margin: “You should critique it along these lines soonest.” (Ibid.) According to another copy, Downey drafted the final memorandum to the President on September 24. (Ibid., Box 686, Country Files, Europe, Germany (Bonn), Vol. X)↩
- Bahr met Rush on September 19 to deliver an “advance account” of the discussions between Brandt and Brezhnev at Oreanda. On the basis of Bahr’s account, Rush reported: “Brandt was impressed by the extent to which Brezhnev took the American posture on the Berlin negotiations as evidence of overall American seriousness in negotiations with the Soviets. The atmosphere of the talks was relaxed and cordial. The only negative aspect of the trip was Brandt’s failure to get Soviet support for the attempt to resolve his difficulties with the GDR on the translation of the Berlin quadripartite agreement.” (Telegram 11676 from Bonn, September 20; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W)↩
- A copy of the report is ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 686, Country Files, Europe, Germany (Bonn), Vol. X↩
- Reference is presumably to the meeting between Nixon and Brandt on June 15; see Document 254.↩
- See the report cited in footnote 3 above.↩
- Dated September 21; attached but not printed. Another copy is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W.↩
- Secret. The text is a courtesy translation provided by the German Embassy on September 20; the original letter in German, dated September 19, is ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 743, Presidential Correspondence Files, Germany, Chancellor Brandt, 1971. A stamp on the translation indicates that the President saw it. For the German text of Brandt’s letter, see Dokumente zur Deutschland politik, 1971–1972, Vol. 1, Nr. 94, pp 386–388.↩
- Reference is to a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels October 5–6. The meeting, attended by Deputy Foreign Ministers, focused primarily on proposals for mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR).↩
- Rogers met Scheel on October 1 in New York during annual consultations for the United Nations General Assembly. A memorandum of the conversation was transmitted in telegram 3111 from USUN (Secto 39), October 3. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W)↩
- In the letter Nixon briefed Brandt on “some of the considerations involved in my decision to accept the Chinese invitation” to visit Beijing in February 1972. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 753, Presidential Correspondence File, Germany, Chancellor Brandt, 1971)↩
- In his response, forwarded by Kissinger via special channel message to Bahr on October 6, the President informed Brandt of his conversation the previous week with Gromyko. “In commenting on his presentation,” Nixon reported, “I called attention to the Berlin agreement as the most significant development of the past year, since it was such a sensitive and delicate issue involving the conflicting interest of the two sides. I stressed the need to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.” Nixon also noted that he told Gromyko that the United States could not begin preparations for a European security conference until “the Berlin agreements were fully completed and implemented.” (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 60, Country Files, Europe, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [1 of 3])↩