18. Memorandum From Richard Pipes of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Allen)1


  • Weekly Report: Soviet Union and Communist Bloc

General Impressions

Confusion and disarray in Moscow over the harsh tones emanating from Washington and the confounding events in Poland; inability to decide whether to pursue a hard or a soft line with resultant policy vacillation. (S)

Soviet Union and the United States

The Soviet Government seems to have decided to treat the anti-Soviet statements of President Reagan and Secretary Haig as political [Page 45] rhetoric which will soon give way to a “realistic” recognition of the need for superpower cooperation. This attitude accounts for the relatively conciliatory tone of Gromyko’s response to Secretary Haig. However, Moscow seems in a tizzy over the relaxed approach taken by the Reagan Administration toward negotiations with it:

—Absence of negotiations means that Moscow lacks knowledge of the personalities of the new Administration and of their thinking, a lack which Soviet policy planners find exasperating.

—Continued nonchalance on our part toward negotiations is likely to have the effect of making Moscow much more amenable to serious talks when the time for them comes. It should therefore be pursued in the weeks to come.2

All indications are that the strong statements emanating from Washington and Moscow’s inability to “probe” the new Administration has thrown confusion into the Kremlin and induced it to act with circumspection in Poland. (S)


The likelihood of a Soviet military intervention in Poland seems to be receding. Soviet policy is to continue to rely on the Polish Government to straighten out the situation there to its satisfaction. Large-scale Soviet financial aid to Poland [less than 1 line not declassified] suggests a desire to stabilize the situation for the time being. Should the situation in Poland nevertheless continue to deteriorate from Moscow’s point of view, the most likely response would be the declaration in Poland of a state of emergency. This measure would give the Polish authorities wide latitude in dealing with worker unrest and most importantly enable it to isolate the intellectuals from the workers by arresting the leaders of such dissident organizations as KOR.3 Beyond this, there looms the possibility that during the Polish Party Congress scheduled for April Kania will be replaced either by Moczar or Olszowski,4 two hard-liners, the second of whom is reported to have close connections to a member of the Soviet Politburo, G.V. Romanov. In this manner the Soviet Union would hope to bring Poland back into the Communist straightjacket. It is worth noting that the organ of the Soviet Trade Union organization Trud has given its readers surprisingly “neutral” accounts of the events in Poland which confirms intelligence indications that there are individuals high in the Soviet Government who believe [Page 46] that worker unrest in Poland is a foretaste of what awaits the Soviet Union, requiring solution rather than brutal repression. (S)


Attention should be called to a recent visit by the Chief of Staff of the Red Army, Marshal Ogarkov, who arrived in Havana on February 6 accompanied by a senior Soviet military delegation. (S)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Weekly Reports, 02/06/1981–02/21/1981. Secret.
  2. Allen wrote in the margin: “I certainly concur with this.”
  3. Reference is to the Komitet Obrony Robotnikow (Workers’ Defense Committee).
  4. References are to Mieczyslaw Moczar and Stefan Olszowski.