193. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Lowenstein) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Support for Norwegian Foreign Minister


A new, hard line Soviet policy in the northern region has emerged in recent months especially with respect to Soviet-Norwegian bilateral issues. Not only have the Soviets refused to give ground in their offshore boundary negotiations with Norway, but they have seized every opportunity to testfire missiles directly into the disputed zone in the Barents Sea. Each Norwegian protest was rejected with the Soviet statement that this area in the Barents Sea is Soviet, not disputed territory and the Soviet hard-line was reiterated by Foreign Minister Gromyko to Foreign Minister Frydenlund at a secret meeting in Copenhagen October 6.

A similar pattern of Soviet behavior is apparent on Svalbard. The Soviets have consistently ignored Norwegian efforts to exercise sovereignty in accordance with their unchallenged legal responsibilities under Article II of the Spitzbergen Treaty of 1920. Recently the Soviets constructed a heliport and replaced small, aging helicopters with five new 30-man helicopters of the MI–8 type. In accomplishing this the Soviets made no move to inform the Norwegians or to comply with routine administrative procedures.

The Norwegian reaction has been disappointing; they are under strong domestic political pressure to adopt a firm line toward the USSR yet preoccupied with the stability of the northern region and fearful of possible Soviet reactions. Moreover, morale is extremely low and the Norwegians do not appear to be formulating coherent plans for coping with these problems—a discouraging prospect if we are counting [Page 623] on the Norwegians to prevent further Soviet encroachment on the Northern Flank.

Foreign Minister Frydenlund has been particularly disheartened by these recent developments. In view of the fact that Frydenlund remains an ardent admirer of yours and periodically inquires about you in Oslo, I believe it would be both useful and appropriate for you to send a brief personal note of reassurance to him at this time.


That you authorize the transmission of the attached cable to Oslo instructing Ambassador Anders to deliver a personal message of reassurance to Frydenlund expressing our broad support for Norwegian policies vis à vis the Soviet Union and offering to assist in any way he might find helpful.

  1. Summary: Lowenstein suggested a U.S. show of support for Norway in the Svalbard matter.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Helmut C. Sonnenfeldt, 1955–1977, Entry 5339, Box 10, POL 2 Norway. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Don Donchi in EUR/NE on November 3. Sent through Sonnenfeldt. Lowenstein did not initial the memorandum and an unknown hand crossed out the approval and disapproval lines at the bottom of the memorandum, but the proposed attached telegram was sent as telegram 275619 to Oslo, November 9. (Ibid.) On December 8, while in Brussels for a NATO Ministerial meeting, Frydenlund gave Kissinger a letter dated December 8 expressing appreciation for the latter’s message, as well as for bilateral consultations on Svalbard. (Memorandum of conversation, December 8; ibid., Records of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 19, NODIS Memcons, Dec. 1976)