157. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

282569. Subject: Response to Soviet Non-paper on Woodbridge Two. Ref: (A) State 280993; (B) Moscow 26993.2

1. At Secretary’s request, Shulman called in Dobrynin on November 6 and responded to Soviet non-paper of November 33 concerning Chernyayev and Enger espionage case.

2. Following is text of US non-paper which Shulman gave to Dobrynin:

Begin text: The Department of State refers to the Soviet communication of November 3.

The Department of State considers that the tone of the Soviet communication concerning the Soviet citizens V.A. Enger and R.P. Chernyayev is patently offensive. Moreover, the logic it contains and the assumptions it makes are erroneous.

As the Soviet Government well knows, Mr. Enger and Mr. Chernyayev violated their status as staff members of the United Nations Secretariat by engaging in a flagrant act of espionage. This was conclusively proven at the fair and open trial which found them guilty of engaging in such espionage.

The United States, for its part, is no less interested than the Soviet Union in furthering the process of relaxation of tensions between our two countries. Nevertheless, however regrettably, if US-Soviet relations are adversely affected, it will be entirely the responsibility of the Soviet Government, which should realize that it is solely because the Soviet citizens involved violated their status in the United States by engaging in espionage. End text.

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3. Following are talking points which Shulman used orally during meeting with Dobrynin:

—The Secretary of State regarded the Soviet communication on Chernyayev and Enger intemperate and offensive. It is not only not helpful, but it has had a negative effect on the prospects for resolving this case.

—I will not dignify the note by a paragraph-by-paragraph response, but there are several points that need to be made.

—If there is damage to US-Soviet relations, it arises from the abuse of United Nations status by the espionage activities of these two men. As you know, the matter has been handled by the courts in accordance with our legal procedures. It has been handled fairly and openly, and the men had the benefit of counsel of their choosing.

—It should be appreciated in Moscow that bail arrangements enabling Chernyayev and Enger to remain out of jail reflect a major effort to take Soviet interests into account.

—What is more, as you know, an effort is being made to settle this matter along lines previously discussed, and we await a response to our most recent discussions.4 In the meantime, we hope that these communications will not be burdened or impaired by unnecessary publicity or further outbursts in official exchanges.

—Finally, while some agreement on “ground rules” is desirable, the abuse of United Nations status for espionage purposes would represent a continuing difficulty as distinguished from personnel covered by diplomatic immunity.

4. Dobrynin made no significant response to points made orally and in non-paper other than to express agreement with the point that further private discussions should be expedited.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 114, 11/1–11/78. Secret; Sensitive; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information to the White House. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Gary L. Matthews (EUR/SOV); cleared by Shinn, Vest, Thomas Martin (S/S–O), and in S/S; approved by Shulman. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840153–2418)
  2. The telegrams, both November 4, are in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780455–0490 and D780456–0071. Telegram 280993 to Moscow, contained the Soviet non-paper on the Woodbridge Two; telegram 26993 from Moscow relayed the Embassy’s preparation for retaliatory action as a result of the arrest of the Woodbridge Two.
  3. The Soviet non-paper described the imprisonment and trial of the Woodbridge Two as a “judicial farce” and a “premeditated provocation.” The Department transmitted the text to the Embassy in Moscow in telegram 280993, November 4. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780455–0490)
  4. Reference is to two telephone conversations between Dobrynin and Brzezinski, November 3 and 6, in which the release and expulsion of the Woodbridge Two were discussed. The memoranda of conversation are in the Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Geographic File, Box 19, U.S.S.R.—Prisoner Exchanges: (8/78–5/79). Dobrynin and Brzezinski also met on November 9 to discuss the logistics of the exchange. The memorandum of conversation is ibid.