368. Memorandum From Jack Matlock of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1


  • Shultz-Dobrynin Meeting, January 22, 1985

Secretary Shultz has submitted a Memorandum to the President reporting on his meeting with Dobrynin January 22.2

Dobrynin had asked for the meeting for the purpose of discussing Soviet proposals for observing V-E Day. Shultz took them under advisement and expressed concern about the Soviet policy of using the occasion to attack German “revanchism.”

At the same meeting, Dobrynin acknowledged that the Soviets owe us a reply regarding the arms control negotiations, and said he expected one this week or next. He indicated that the delay is caused by the necessity of the Politburo passing on the arrangements.

Comment: I continue to be annoyed at the way State has failed to come up with a unified and detailed Allied position regarding observance of the V-E anniversary—but maybe these Soviet proposals will galvanize their activity. Off hand, I see no great problem with exchanging open letters—provided we can negotiate the content of both in advance. As for delegations, this will require more careful thought, consultation with the British and French—as well as the Germans, of course.

Dobrynin’s excuse for the Soviet delay in setting the specifics for the negotiations rings true: these things doubtless require Politburo approval. In this regard, it is interesting to note that there seems to have been no Politburo meeting last week—at least none was announced, and announcements have been routine for the last couple of years. This adds to the circumstantial evidence that Chernenko’s health has taken a nose-dive.3 If this is the case, the Soviet leadership [Page 1363] will be utterly preoccupied with the question of succession. Even so, I would expect them to find a way to approve the arrangements fairly soon.


That you send the attached memorandum to the President.4

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Chronological File, 1980–1986, Matlock Chron January 1985 (3/4). Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. McFarlane wrote in the margin: “Thanks Jack.”
  2. See Document 367.
  3. Since mid-January, several cables and reports speculated on Chernenko’s illness. Telegram 740 from Moscow, January 17, reported: “According to the French Embassy here, Central Committee International Department First Deputy Chief Zagladin acknowledged to a visiting French Minister of State on January 16 that Chernenko’s poor state of health had been the reason for the postponement of the Warsaw Pact Summit.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D850037–0738) Telegram 805 from Moscow, January 18, reported: “Two more senior Soviet officials have admitted privately that General Secretary Chernenko is ill.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D850040–0519)
  4. McFarlane did not mark the Approve or Disapprove option; however, a handwritten note dated January 28 in an unknown hand noted: “Per RCM—Shultz reported this to the President orally.” According to the President’s Daily Diary, Reagan met with Shultz in the Oval Office on January 23 from 1:41 to approximately 2:10 p.m. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) Tab I, an undated covering memorandum from McFarlane to the President, is attached but not printed. Tab A, Shultz’s memorandum, is attached and printed as Document 367.