240. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (McMahon) to the Deputy Director for Intelligence (Gates)1


  • Secretary Shultz’s Comments Regarding His Meeting with Yuri Andropov

1. Shultz said Andropov introduced and “dismissed” the other key Soviet officials and evidenced himself as being very much in charge as he spoke at Brezhnev’s funeral. He appeared adroit—with the facility to react at a moment’s notice. The Secretary had the feeling that Andropov could escalate a situation very quickly and “take us on.”

2. Shultz said that Andropov was very good at disinformation and misrepresented the context of Andropov’s meeting with the Americans when he spoke to the Germans a few hours later. Shultz said the Americans met Andropov at 10:00 a.m. and the Germans at 5:30 p.m. During the conversation with the Americans he appeared in a friendly manner. However, with the Germans, according to the information reaching Shultz, the tone was threatening; he read from a script; and laid it on the line to the Germans on how he saw things.

3. Shultz said Andropov showed that he understood some English. When Vice President Bush was speaking he evidenced an understanding of what he was saying. Parenthetically Shultz said that Dobrynin claims that Andropov understands English but he never heard him speak it and he certainly never spoke it to Dobrynin.

4. Andropov seemed vigorous, complexion somewhat pale but eyes steely—basically a quiet, unrevealing expression as compared to Gromyko who was very expressive facially. Shultz noted that the Americans had a meeting with Andropov shortly after he shook some 2,000 hands but he still had a great deal of energy about him. He apparently has a very easy and relaxed relationship with Gromyko and the two occasionally whispered and laughed between them. It was obvious to Shultz that Gromyko was on excellent terms with Andropov. At one point when the Vice President spoke of himself and Andropov having had the same jobs in intelligence, Andropov replied, “yes, we are men of peace but they (referring to Gromyko and Shultz) are the men of problems.”

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5. The Secretary said there was no question in his mind but that Andropov was completely in charge—nothing collective about the situation at all. It also appeared obvious that he has been running things for some time and not just grabbing the baton upon the death of Brezhnev.

John N. McMahon
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 83M00914R: Executive Director and Executive Registry Files (1982), Box 20, Folder 3, L–205A McMahon Grams. Secret.