40. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Hill) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark)1


  • U.S.-Soviet Relations: Kiev/New York Consulates and Cultural Agreement

We have been looking into the pros and cons of taking action in two areas of our relationship with the Soviets:

(1) Consulates General in Kiev and New York City;

(2) Cultural Exchange Agreement.

We believe there are some clear benefits to be gained by U.S. initiatives in these areas, but each also has some public relations or foreign policy drawbacks. Attached are our analyses of the options available to us on these issues and the pros and cons of each.

Regarding cultural exchanges, you will recall that NSDD 75 states, inter alia, that the exchanges framework should not be further dismantled; and that those exchanges that promote positive evolutionary change within the USSR should be expanded at the same time that the U.S. will insist on full reciprocity.

Charles Hill2
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Attachment 1

Options Paper Prepared in the Department of State3

ISSUE: Consulates General in Kiev and New York City: Options

Option 1. Inform the Soviets that the U.S. is ready to establish Consulates General in Kiev and New York City and propose a public announcement and the resumption of technical discussions toward this end.

Pros and Cons

In terms of assets, we would gain substantially from the opening of a Consulate in Kiev; by comparison, the Soviet presence in New York City would increase only marginally. As matters stand, because of the UN presence, the Soviets have free run of New York and we have nothing comparable in the USSR. A [less than 1 line not declassified] presence in the heart of the Ukraine, expanded contacts with important minority nationality and religious groups, and consular access for our citizens would prove most advantageous to the U.S. Government. It would also respond to the wishes of the U.S. Ukrainian community and many in the U.S. Jewish community who have long stressed the need for a consulate in the area.

On the down side, the lifting of an Afghan sanction will evoke some criticism. While this move may effectively show the American public, the Allies and the Soviets that confrontation is not the only arrow in our quiver, it may at the same time raise unrealistic expectations both here and abroad about overall improvements in our relations.

Practical Steps

Even if we were to agree in principle to open Consulates General, the timing and cost of our actions would be determined by decisions on several subsidiary issues. The first decision involves the type of establishment we wish to open in Kiev. We have the choice of a simple, unclassified operation which would constitute an American presence and give some consular protection to American visitors, or a full-scale post, with [less than 1 line not declassified] advantages in a key non-Russian area. Devolving from this decision will be the question of timing. An unclassified establishment in Kiev could be organized fairly easily and quickly in terms of personnel and money, whereas full-scale establishment would take years.

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Establishing a full-scale post would entail a great deal of effort to secure the necessary personnel and funding, and to resolve numerous technical and logistical difficulties. However, depending upon how rapidly we would wish to implement this, several approaches are available. If quick results are crucial, we could immediately start the process of securing preliminary funding, TDY personnel for an advance team, and logistical support in order to have the consulates operational (though with a skeleton staff) within approximately a year. At the other end of the spectrum, we could do a limited amount of initial planning until Congressional support was assured and all funding requirements approved. A third approach would involve sending a temporary advance team as soon as possible and then developing an overall strategy for the selection of long-term personnel, the briefing of Congressional committees, the acquisition of funding, and the fulfillment of all the technical requirements of the facility. The implementation of this strategy would follow as soon afterwards as considered desirable or feasible.

Option 2: Propose to the Soviets that we resume discussions on the possibility of establishing Consulates in Kiev and New York, but not move quickly actually to open the Consulates and make no announcement at this time.

Pros and Cons

This approach would enable us to do the preliminary work both with the Soviets and within the U.S. Government necessary for the opening of the Consulates General at some future date. At the same time, it does not obligate us to take the more visible steps of actually putting an Advance Team in place now or allowing the Soviets to resume construction work on the building that will eventually house our Consulate General. The decision on whether or when to undertake these steps could depend on progress in the technical discussions and the overall state of U.S.-Soviet relations. Since the discussions would be technical, no formal announcement would be required at this time. Similarly, no final decision would have to be made regarding the lifting of an Afghanistan sanction. On the other hand, the Soviets would regard this as a positive decision and it would allow us to begin allocating personnel and resources and setting up a logistical support system.

However, if Congress or the public becomes aware that we are identifying positions and earmarking funds for Kiev, we would probably be asked what this meant for our sanctions policy. Other disadvantages of this option are limited.

Option 3. Tell the Soviets that we are actively considering the resumption of negotiations for the establishment of Consulates General.

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Pros and Cons

The main advantage of this option is that it simply allows us to await a more favorable moment. It also enables us to avoid any criticism, except from the Ukrainian-American community which is pushing us to open in Kiev. Its primary drawback is that it accomplishes little. In terms of U.S.-Soviet relations, it is devoid of benefits, since the Soviets would see it as a do-nothing statement. After the suspension of our agreement to establish these Consulates General in 1980,4 a weak consensus emerged on the policy level that on balance the suspension was an ill-advised move.

Option 4. Say nothing to the Soviets and adhere to the status quo.

Pros and Cons

The one advantage inherent in this position is that we are spared from justifying the lifting of an Afghan sanction. The costs of our current practices are high. Financially, we bear the burden of three apartments in Kiev for which we pay rent but have no use. (We have kept the apartments because we previously spent substantial money on reconfiguring them for U.S. use, and because if we gave them up, we would have a lot of trouble obtaining other adequate apartments later.) We also risk the loss of the office building which the Soviets have, to date, kept open for us. The cost of reconstructing an alternate building will be considerably higher in the future. Finally, we face criticism from U.S. visitors to Kiev, especially Jewish groups, whom we are unable to assist.

Attachment 2

Options Paper Prepared in the Department of State5

Cultural Exchanges Agreement: Options

As matters now stand, the Soviets have almost unlimited access to American media and other forums. And we have only limited means to penetrate the Soviet Union with our ideology. Our open society and the legal restraints on our ability to refuse visas to Soviet citizens except on national security grounds make this possible. We are fortunate that the Soviets since 1979 have chosen not to send performing artists here; [Page 135] otherwise, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Moscow Circus and similar major groups could be touring the US annually without any reciprocity for American groups in the USSR. There are indications that the Soviets are rethinking this policy, and may start sending performers again. We currently have no means of ensuring reciprocity in this area, nor do we have leverage to gain Soviet agreement for us to conduct thematic exhibits in the USSR. Such exhibits, with American guides speaking Russian or other local language, have proven to be one of the most effective means of reaching thousands of Soviet citizens with the American message. For example, Vladimir Bukovsky has stated that he became a dissident when he visited the US Exposition in Moscow in 1959.

To increase our penetration of Soviet society through cultural exchanges, we need to consider the most effective means. We see three basic options:

1. Negotiate a new exchanges agreement, replacing the one that expired in 1979, that ensures reciprocity.

PROS: The exact form of an agreement would have to be worked out in interagency discussions to ensure that all USG interests would be considered. At a minimum, it would define the areas in which reciprocity must be provided, including the performing arts. We should be able to improve our access to influential Soviet circles by putting continued access to US audiences on a reciprocal basis. Exhibits would be an important part of an agreement, as would all other legitimate means of penetrating Soviet society. We would also require access to Soviet television.

CONS: This would involve negotiating a highly visible agreement and raise questions about how it conforms to our sanctions policy. It would cause speculation whether we are returning to a policy of detente.

2. Combine negotiation of an exchanges agreement with a stricter visa regime, through legislation restoring our ability to refuse visas for foreign policy reasons or by invoking the “Baker Amendment.” Such draft legislation is now at OMB for review and decision. The Baker Amendment involves an official determination, which can be made by the Secretary of State, that the USSR is not in substantial compliance with the Helsinki Final Act.

PROS: This would permit us to generate greater leverage to get the kind of truly reciprocal exchanges agreement we want. It has the additional virtue of allowing us to refuse visas for policy reasons and not have to justify refusals on national security grounds. We could choose which Soviets we would admit or exclude.

CONS: This has the same problems as Option 1, somewhat mitigated by combining it with instituting tougher visa controls. In addition, visa refusals are a crude tool, subject to easy retaliation not necessarily confined to the visa field. American sponsors of Soviet visits would criticize arbitrary refusals, and those who invested money in long-term planning to bring Soviet performers here might have a legal claim. Invoking the Baker Amendment raises issues of foreign policy and long-term US-USSR relations that require careful study.

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3. Continue current practice.

PROS: This involves no change and is easy to administer, with few decisions having to be referred to senior levels for political decision.

CONS: This does nothing to ensure reciprocity and leaves the Soviets with easy access to US society.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Special Handling Restrictions Memos, 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, Super Sensitive April 1–17, Confidential. In a covering memorandum to Shultz, Burt wrote: “I understand that at the NSPG Friday [April 8] you may want to raise these issues. At Tab 1 are talking points. At Tab 2 are options papers we sent to the NSC.” The NSPG meeting on April 8 did not address the exchanges and consulate issues; instead, it dealt entirely with Poland. Information on this NSPG meeting is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. IX, Poland, 1982–1988.
  2. McManaway signed for Hill above Hill’s typed signature.
  3. Confidential.
  4. Preparations for establishment of the consulates were suspended after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
  5. Confidential.