81. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Andropov to President Reagan1

Dear Mr. President:

I found it necessary to draw your attention once again to a question, the importance of which would seem to be beyond doubt. I have in mind the problem of limiting nuclear weapons in Europe, on which the next round of Soviet-American talks will begin in about a week in [Page 284] Geneva.2 A decisive breakthrough at those negotiations could be of fundamental importance from the viewpoint of how matters will develop in Europe and throughout the world, and consequently—and not least—between the Soviet Union and the United States as well.

The Soviet Union has just taken another major step which, if properly evaluated by the United States, will in many respects facilitate reaching agreement in Geneva. We have declared our willingness to liquidate in the European part of the USSR those of our medium-range missiles which would be subject to reductions. Among them there would be a considerable portion of SS–20 missiles as well, namely, that portion of those missiles which would be in excess of the aggregate number of medium-range missiles of Britain and France. It goes without saying that this can be done only if mutually acceptable agreement is reached as a whole on the problem of limiting medium-range nuclear systems in Europe, including renunciation of the deployment of new American missiles there.

The question of redeployment of SS–20 missiles to be reduced would thereby be removed, too. Indeed, American representatives have repeatedly emphasized the great importance for the progress of the negotiations in Geneva of what would happen to the Soviet missiles to be reduced in Europe.

Having taken this serious step for the sake of reaching agreement, we expect that the reciprocal step of the American side will be such as to make a mutually acceptable agreement possible.

As you understand, Mr. President, a great deal depends on what the forthcoming round of the negotiations will result in; we believe that an agreement is still possible and achievable. The Soviet delegation in Geneva will have instructions to exert additional efforts to work out an agreement based on the principle of equality and equal security. For success to be achieved, however, it is necessary for the U.S. delegation also to have corresponding instructions to work in the same direction.

The Soviet leadership is deeply convinced that the situation truly dictates the need for a broad, considered approach and for taking bold political decisions looking to the future. For its part, the Soviet leadership is acting in this manner. I would like to hope that your government and you personally will approach the resolution of the task we face with a sense of high responsibility for the fate of peace and international security.

With respect,

Yu. Andropov
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, USUSSR Summits, 1985–1986, E.4 President/Andropov Correspondence. Secret. A typed notation on the letter reads: “Translation from the Russian.” The letter was forwarded to the President with an attached covering memorandum from Shultz on August 29 (see Document 82).
  2. INF negotiations were scheduled to resume in Geneva on September 6.