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President Nixon arrives in Moscow for historic summit

President Nixon arrives in Moscow for historic summit

On May 22, 1972, President Richard Nixon arrives in Moscow for a summit with Soviet leaders.

Although it was Nixon’s first visit to the Soviet Union as president, he had visited Moscow once before–as U.S. vice president. As Eisenhower’s vice president, Nixon made frequent official trips abroad, including a 1959 trip to Moscow to tour the Soviet capital and to attend the U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolniki Park. Soon after Vice President Nixon arrived in July 1959, he opened an informal debate with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev about the merits and disadvantages of their governments’ political and economic systems. Known as the “Kitchen Debate” because of a particularly heated exchange between Khrushchev and Nixon that occurred in the kitchen of a model U.S. home at the American fair, the dialogue was a defining moment in the Cold War.

Nixon’s second visit to Moscow in May 1972, this time as president, was for a more conciliatory purpose. During a week of summit meetings with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet officials, the United States and the USSR reached a number of agreements, including one that laid the groundwork for a joint space flight in 1975. On May 26, Nixon and Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), the most significant of the agreements reached during the summit. The treaty limited the United States and the USSR to 200 antiballistic missiles each, which were to be divided between two defensive systems. President Nixon returned to the United States on May 30.


President Nixon arrives in Moscow for historic summit - HISTORY

On 26 May a treaty to halt the nuclear arms race, known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (Salt), was signed in the Kremlin by President Nixon and Mr Brezhnev.

The agreement, which was the culmination of nearly three years of talks between the two superpowers limited each superpower to 200 defensive nuclear missiles and froze the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles for the next five years.

An agreement designed to establish more favourable conditions for developing commercial and other economic ties between the USA and the USSR was also reached.

The two countries also agreed to make their first joint manned venture into space in June 1975.

Other agreements relating to incidents at sea, science and technology, health and the environment were also made.

Little progress was made on the Middle East or Vietnam although the two sides did agree to further negotiations on both subjects.


On this Day in 1972: Nixon Visits Moscow

On May 22, 1972, President Richard Nixon arrived in Moscow for a summit with Soviet leaders. During a week of meetings with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet officials, the United States and the USSR reached a number of agreements, including one that laid the groundwork for a joint space flight in 1975.

On May 22, 1972, President Richard Nixon arrived in Moscow for a summit with Soviet leaders. During a week of meetings with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet officials, the United States and the USSR reached a number of agreements, including one that laid the groundwork for a joint space flight in 1975. On May 26, Nixon and Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), the most significant of the agreements reached during the summit. The treaty limited the United States and the USSR to 200 antiballistic missiles each, which were to be divided between two defensive systems. President Nixon returned to the United States on May 30.

Nixon’s visit to Moscow on this day in 1972 was a step toward conciliation (in the form of space cooperation and the signing of the SALT arms control treaty) in the depths of the Cold War. Today, the United States and Russia may be over two decades removed from the Cold War, but there is little sign of any conciliation to come between our countries on the horizon.

Ambassador James Collins set out his explanations for this chill in relations, and his recommendations for what is needed going forward, in his acceptance speech for the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service at the Kennan Institute’s Davis Dinner.


Moscow Summit, December 1971–May 1972

83. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 87, Beginning December 12, 1971. Top Secret. The meeting took place at Junta Geral, Angra do Heroismo. A more complete transcript of the meeting is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe NATO, 1969–1972. In preparation for the summit meeting between Nixon and Pompidou , December 13–14 in the Azores, Kissinger sent Nixon a briefing memorandum on December 10 that advised: “On East-West questions ( MBFR , European Conference), the differences are relatively minor and, in any case, greater between the two foreign offices than between yourself and Pompidou .” Nixon wrote back in the margin of the memorandum: “ MBFR —(1) We go forward—(2) Consult with CES .” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, nnnnn NSC Files, Box 473, President’s Trip Files, Azores Visit—Meeting with President Pompidou , 12/13–14/71)

84. Editorial Note

85. Editorial Note

86. Editorial Note

87. Minutes of a Senior Review Group Committee Meeting

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–113, SRG Meetings Minutes, Originals, 1972–1973. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.

88. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rogers and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger )

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Transcripts ( Telcon s), Box 13, Chronological File. No classification marking.

89. National Security Decision Memorandum 162

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 482, President’s Trip Files, MBFR - CSCE Backup Book, Part 1. Top Secret. Copies were sent to the Director of Central Intelligence and the Acting Director of the Arms Control and Disclaimer Agency.

90. Editorial Note

91. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 72, Country Files, Europe, USSR , HAK Moscow Trip—April 1972, Memcon s. Top Secret Sensitive Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the Guest House on Vorobyevskii Road. For the full text of the memorandum of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 139.

92. Editorial Note

93. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger ) to President Nixon

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 487, President’s Trip Files, The President’s Conversations in Salzburg, Moscow, Tehran and Warsaw, May 1972, Part 1. Secret Sensitive Eyes Only. A notation on the first page reads: “The President has seen.” President Nixon visited Austria May 20–22 on his way to the summit meeting in the Soviet Union. For the full text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 253.

94. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 487, President’s Trip Files, The President’s Conversations in Salzburg, Moscow, Tehran and Warsaw, May 1972, Part 1. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the General Secretary’s Office in the Kremlin. For the full text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 257.

95. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 487, President’s Trip Files, The President’s Conversations in Salzburg, Moscow, Tehran and Warsaw, May 1972, Part 1. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in St. Catherine’s Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace. For the full text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 265.

96. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 475, President’s Trip Files, Moscow Trip, May 1972, Pt . 4. Secret Nodis .

97. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger ’s Office Files, Box 73, Country Files, Europe, USSR , Mr. Kissinger ’s Conversations in Moscow, May 1972. Top Secret Sensitive Eyes Only. All brackets, with the exception of those indicating omitted material, are in the original. The meeting took place in St. Catherine’s Hall, Grand Kremlin Palace. For the full text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 288.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nixon arrives in Moscow


1972: President Nixon arrives in Moscow

President Richard Nixon has arrived in Moscow for talks with Soviet leaders.
He was given a modest welcome as he stepped off the plane at Vnukovo airport with his wife.
The welcome party consisted of Soviet president Nikolai Podgorny, Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
A twenty-minute ceremony, during which the president briefly inspected a guard of honour, was held and broadcast live by Moscow television.

The national anthems of both countries were played and a carefully selected group of Soviet citizens dutifully, but silently, waved American and Soviet flags.

Many observers were hoping the war in Vietnam and the nuclear arms race would be high on the agenda.
For the first time in history the stars and stripes flag of America flew over the Grand Palace of the Kremlin to mark the visit.
This evening President Nixon and his wife attended a banquet at the Kremlin. The couple walked along a red carpet and up a 60-step staircase into the Granovit banqueting hall, where the two presidents drank toasts to peace.
There are known differences between the two men on such issues as the war in Vietnam and the Middle East.
President Nixon spoke about the need for co-operation and reciprocation between the two countries in their efforts to conquer disease, improve the environment, and to expand bilateral trade and economic links.
He said he was eager to make the summit a memorable one for its substance.

During his speech he alluded to Vietnam: "We should recognise that it is the responsibility of great powers to influence other nations in conflict or crisis to moderate their behaviour."

He also spoke of a possible arms agreement which, he said "could begin to turn our countries away from a wasteful and dangerous arms race and towards more production for peace".

President Podgorny said the Soviet Union wanted not just good but friendly relations with the US.


Nixon Returns – The Middle East Tour

Nixon would return to Austria for a record third time some two years later, flying again to Salzburg to meet with Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky. As The New York Times noted on June 12, 1974, Nixon met with Kreisky, who recently led a Socialist International fact‐finding mission on a tour of Middle East capitals, in preparation of his upcoming trip to the Middle East. “Kreisky shared his observations with the President during a conversation lasting an hour and 40 minutes,“ the paper wrote. Nixon’s destinations during that trip included Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Israel – the first visit of a sitting U.S. President in the young Jewish state, just about a year after it faced its existential crisis. In addition, Chancellor Kreisky had also recently concluded an official visit to Moscow, which was again on President Nixon’s travel list just two weeks later. At that point in time in Austria, Nixon was the most-traveled President in U.S. history.

President Richard Nixon arrives in Salzburg, June 10, 1974 before his Middle East tour. Next to him is Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, Foreign Minister Rudolf Kirchschläger stands behind him - just a few days later, on June 23, Kirchschläger was elected Federal President.

Photo: Austrian National Library

But Nixon had left an already beleaguered White House back home, the Watergate scandal was looming over his presidency. The White House Press Secretary, Ronald, L. Ziegler, told The New York Times that „the President was keeping in touch with the White House on all domestic matters through cable and voice communications. He said it had not been necessary to have any contact with any of the Presidential lawyers and he declined to discuss a question about impeachment possibilities if Mr. Nixon refuses to obey Supreme Court rulings.“ The President would eventually resign some two months later, on August 8, 1974, facing certain impeachment.

But Watergate was not the only trouble for Nixon on this trip. As historian Stephen Ambrose points out in Nixon Volume III: Ruin and Recovery, Henry Kissinger planned to hold a press conference upon arrival in Salzburg to address a Time editorial. Nixon opposed the idea, fearing that such a move would “only play into their hands by giving them a Watergate lead for their first story from this trip,” Nixon told his Chief of Staff Alexander Haig on the plane. Regardless, Kissinger held the press conference over the objections of his boss after their arrival in Salzburg.

In addition, the President was plagued by health issues “as irritating as Kissinger was Nixon’s leg,” assessed Ambrose: Nixon was suffering from phlebitis, his left leg was swollen to about double the size of the right. The President had the few people knowing about this condition sworn to secrecy. However, Nixon walking with a limp during his Middle East visit was widely noticeable.

According to Nixon’s diary, the President and his delegation were greeted upon arrival in Salzburg by Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and Foreign Minister Rudolf Kirchschlager additional dignitaries included the Governor of the State of Salzburg, Hans Lechner, the Mayor of the City of Salzburg, Heinrich Salfenauer, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Austria, John P. Humes. Furthermore, the diary also lists as present two children, Christa (12 years old) and Mathias (13 years old)—both identified, without further explanation, as „children of Mr. Schmidhuber, the „Chairman of the Folkloristic Dance Group.“ At 9:55 a.m., the President went to the sitting room at Klessheim Castle to join Kissinger and Scocroft. From there, the trio went to the main entrance of the castle, where they greeted Kreisky and Kirchschlager, followed by a joint walk through the grounds of Schloss Klessheim. At five past ten, Nixon, Kissinger and Scowcroft held a meeting with Kreisky and Kirchschlager that lasted until 11:31 a.m. afterwards Nixon retired to his suite.

The next day, on June 12th, President Nixon, accompanied by Ambassador Humes, arrived at the airport at around 8:00 a.m. After the farewell ceremony, Nixon left on the Spirit of 76 for Cairo International Airport to commence his landmark Middle East tour, which would pave the way for U.S. Presidents after him.


The Moscow Summit:

AT 4:29 A.M. on Tuesday, May 23—the first morning that an American President awoke in Moscow—a United States Secret Service agent was startled to see Richard Nixon, dressed casually in a maroon sports jacket, pass the agent's post on the way to a Kremlin stroll.

Two other American agents were promptly alerted by radio joined by three K.G.B. men, they took their flanking and following positions as the President walked downstairs and out into Moscow's strong, early morning sunlight. He walked past the great, cracked iron bell, ignored the black Czar's cannon, and crossed a wide street leading to a monument with fresh flowers at its base. There the 37th President of the United States stopped and took a long look at the statue of Lenin, the first chairman of the Council of People's Commissars.

On the way back, using one of the K.G.B'uards as an interpreter, he stopped to chat with a Soviet soldier. “How old are you?”

“You have a long life ahead of you.” At 4:53, the President retired to his quarters, made some notes, and by 5:30 was back to sleep.

Soldiers like the one Nixon stopped to talk with will have a better chance at a long life if the United States and the Soviet Union can work out a way of competing without colliding—a possibil ity, with its curious admixture of realism and hope, of caution and daring, that brought Richard Nixon back to Moscow in 1972. The city of Mos cow offers a useful prism through which to study the changing nature of the only man in American history to be a major party's candidate for national office in five out of six Presidential elections.

It was in Moscow in 1959 that he capped his reputation as a man who would “stand up to the Communists” in the kitchen conference with Khrushchev it was in Moscow in 1965, and again in 1967, that the outcast character of his role as a private citizen was underscored it was in Mos cow in 1972 that his talents as peacemaker and world leader were tested.

HOW was the Nixon who came to Moscow in 1972 different from the man who visited that capital in the mid‐sixties and in the late fifties? What was there about him that changed, and what apparent changes were only in the eye of the perceiver?

Psychohistory is not my game. I do not profess to know whether the President glared balefully

“I Have a Reputation As a Hard‐Line Anti‐Communist,” said Nixon “We Know, We Know,” said Kosygin or gazed beneficently at that statue of Lenin, or what was going through his mind at the time. But as one of his Moscow aides in 1972 who also happened to be in the kitchen with him in 1959, I could see some differences with an insider's myopia. He changed, as did the world and his adversaries, and the change in each accelerated the change in the others.

Conventional wisdom has it that Vice President Nixon traveled to Moscow in 1959 as an ardent cold warrior, determined to beard the Russian bear in its den—and 13 years later returned as one who

The summit meeting was a marriage of mutual convenience, not a love match had seen the light to become the instrument of détente. A sharp contrast makes a good story, but that is not the way it was.

I am convinced that Nixon came to Moscow in 1959 with no confrontation in mind on the con trary, he was determined to be courteous and friendly as “host” of the American Exhibition in Moscow. His opening statements were conciliatory and would have remained so, but for the fact that he was given a sustained verbal shove by Nikita Khrushchev.

Millions of Americans think they witnessed the “kitchen conference” on television. They did not: What they saw was a video‐tape of an earlier conversation in a television studio, with the Amer ican Vice President trying to be Mr. Nice Guy and the Soviet Premier jumping all over him. In my reading of the incident, as they left the studio, Nixon knew he had been handled roughly—that unless he countered the assault quickly, the world would see an American leader on the defensive, gently trying to turn aside the thrusts of a trucu lent Soviet leader. He redressed the imbalance in the kitchen of the “typical American house.” As the press agent for that house, it was my job to get the two leaders inside and keep them there long enough for a story and pictures to blossom. An authoritative‐sounding “Next stop, the typical American house!” enticed them into our exhibit, trailed by a crowd of newsmen on cue, a crowd of spectators spilled into the house from the only exit, trapping Nixon and Khrushchev inside. The Vice President spotted the kitchen and seized his opportunity to continue the debate.

Nixon held his own in the kitchen, making tell ing debating points, but a study of the notes of the “kitchen conference” shows the American intro ducing all the restraining notes with the Soviet leader skillfully losing, and using, his temper. The world ‐ wide impression of Nixon talking tough was left not by what was said, but by two photographs of the debate: One, taken by Elliot Erwitt of Magnum shooting for Life magazine, with Nixon poking his finger in a nonplussed Khrushchev's chest, and another—also showing Nixon doing the talking—shot for the Associated Press when their photographer could not get in the kitchen and, in desperation, lobbed his camera in to me. (I tried to compose that picture with three elements: Nixon, Khrushchev and the wash ing machine they were talking about at the time but another man's face was in the middle, and I couldn't shoot the picture without him. Recently, the anonymous party functionary whose face ap peared in so many newspapers the next day has been identified as Leonid Brezhnev.)

The impression of a no‐nonsense Nixon putting the Soviet leader in his place was first made in the newspapers which used the A.P. shot the fol lowing day, in Time and Life the following week, and was heavily reinforced by advertising used during the Presidential campaign in 1960.

Pictures, which do not lie, do not necessarily tell the whole truth a more accurate impression of Nixon in 1959, I think, was that of a man who —although badgered by Khrushchev, as well as by a series of questions planted in the mouths of people he met—was keeping his cool and main taining his balance.

Those of us who exploited those photographs in 1960 as evidence of tough‐mindedness cannot now complain that they failed to convey the sense of conciliation and restraint that was present. No complaints—but the “cold warrior” impression was simplistic.

JUST as the perception of the 1959 Nixon is somewhat distorted, the 1972 perception of him as the dauntless devotee of détente is somewhat exaggerated. A recurrent theme before, during and after the 1972 visit was in derogation of “spirits.” Nixon told newsmen on the eve of departure, “There was the ‘Spirit of Vienna,’ the ‘Spirit of Geneva’ and the ‘Spirit of Glassboro’ and the ‘Spirit of Camp David.’ What they all added up to… was all froth and very little substance.”

In his first toast to the Soviet leaders in the Kremlin, he reminded them: “Summit meetings of the past have been remembered for their ‘spirit' we must strive to make the Moscow Summit mem orable for its substance.” (Immediately to the President's left as he spoke in Granovit Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace was a large painting of a saint rejecting temptation, an apt subject at that moment.) He repeated this idea in his speech to the joint session of the Congress, exorcising summit spirits with bell, book and candle.

All this spirit‐baiting had a point: That atmos pherics were not the name of the game, that good will was fine but not enough. The summit was a marriage of mutual convenience, not a love match. Central to the Nixon mode of dealing with the Soviets is the idea that a realistic respect for each other's power and interests is far more reliable a basis for a permanent relationship than ringing protestations of friendship.

Both the final approach to the summit itself, and the subsequent handling of the SALT negotia tions, illustrate how this cool‐eyed assessment de termined events. In his speech announcing the mining of Haiphong harbor two weeks before the summit, Nixon made it plain that while he was looking forward to the meeting, the prospect did not have him salivating. I think that one important reason a successful summit took place was the clear impression Nixon left that he did not con sider a summit indispensable.

In the same way, when negotiations on SALT reached an impasse Thursday night, May 25, the President did not appear in the least anguished. Earlier, Soviet spokesmen had passed the word to the press that the agreement would be signed the next day, providing a fitting climax to the week's package of accords.

Two points, however, could not be resolved, both of which Nixon considered important to United States security. The President gave Henry Kissinger firm instructions to be followed even if it meant that no agreement would be signed that week. The President's national security adviser went to bed Thursday night convinced there was no final deal before he went to an 11 A.M. meeting the next day with Andrei Gromyko, Kissinger told Ron Ziegler to pass the word to the press not to expect a signing that day.

At that point, it must have become clear that the United States was not bluffing that Nixon was quite prepared to let Friday come and go without a SALT signing ceremony, in the hope that something could be worked but the following week or month. Then, and only then, did the pres sure shift direction, and what the diplomats call “movement” took place on the Soviet side. I think it is clear that because Nixon did not appear to be anxious, an agreement considered fair to both sides was reached that morning and signed that night. I ran into a State Department official in an ele vator at 3 P.M. that afternoon and told him I had heard a new treaty would be signed that evening. He smiled and explained why it would be impossible due to the time needed to match translations, to tran scribe to parchment (“One doesn't sign treaties on typing paper, you know”) and to bind the pages into an im pressive couple of books. Soon afterward, he got the word that the signing was scheduled for 11 P.M. He made it under the wire, but they had to sign the treaty loose leaf a corrected version was quietly re‐signed by the two leaders the next day.

ANOTHER change re flected in Nixon is the change in adversary (a word now used in place of “enemy” or “other side,” soon to be re placed by “competitor,” pre ferable to “coexistee”). Khrushchev used exuberant bombast like a locomotive's cowcatcher, pushing aside ob structions with colorful turns of phrase like “not until shrimps whistle,” and a handy stock of proverbs: “You are my guest, but truth is my mother” was one used to im press Nixon, who did not learn until later that many Russian “old sayings” are made on the spot.

The personalities faced by Nixon in the Moscow of 1972 were considerably different, as was his reaction to them. The word journalists used to describe Kosygin is “dour” Kosygin is as closely tied to dour as inextricably is to linked. He does not smile often. Only when Nixon told the first plenary session, “I have a reputation as a hard line anti‐Communist” did the first grin spread across Kosy gin's face, as he said, “We know, we know.” His humor is used to make a political or negotiating point. At the din ner given by the President at the American Embassy, no bread was served when Kosy gin looked around for his fa vorite dark bread, the Presi dent shrugged and passed along a plate of nuts. Kosy gin, who had been negotiating about grain purchases all day, observed to Mrs. Nixon, “No wonder you Americans have so much grain—you don't eat bread.”

Brezhnev, too, uses humor for political purposes. Henry Kissinger had a series of meetings with him in early May, preparatory to the sum mit. At the final meeting, Kissinger brought along all the members of the National Security Council staff who had traveled with him to Mos cow. Brezhnev, noting the in creased size of the United States delegation, slipped in a gentle barb: “For people who talk so much about your withdrawals, you bring your reinforcements up very qui etly.”

Nixon, seated next to Brezh nev at two state dinners, let the Soviet leader do more of the talking, responding to conversation rather than lead ing it. When Brezhnev walks, he strides with an unmistak able command presence, stately and studied but when he sits down to dinner, he becomes animated and ex pressive. His right hand helped to conduct the con versation cigarette between index and middle finger, el bow on the table, he used his hand to shape, arguments and indicate nuances. In this kind of lively conversation, he seemed reluctant to put up with the interpreter's delay Nixon, on the other hand, consciously used the inter preter, never getting too far ahead, working with him to make his points. Six years younger than Brezhnev, Nixon has had more experience communicating across a lan guage gulf he speaks slowly, using a simple construction and plain words wherever possible. In such circum stances, facial expressions become important both Nixon and Brezhnev have pro nounced, expressive eyebrows, and use them to advantage. Nixon has a good “Is that so?” look, reminiscent of the famed photo of Eisenhower when informed of MacArthur's resignation Brezhnev is adept at an eye‐widened “So that's it,” briskly nodding, project ing an air of welcome dis covery.

THE contrast between Nixon ❙ and Nixon ❲ was striking in the way he dealt semipublicly with Soviet lead ers. In the old days, Nixon would be leaning in, pressing his points home, aware of cameras, careful not to ap pear to be missing a thing a junior determined not to be put down for fear his country would be put down. Now he is more relaxed, less con cerned with the scoring of in dividual points, taking a longer view. He is more delib erate in movement and speech he seems to know who he is and what he wants.

Another contrast with 1959 was in the attitude of the American party toward elec tronic eavesdropping. Bugs, taps and hidden cameras were subjects of considerable worry on that first visit, as if some decisive advantage could be wrested from the United States if discussions about a cultural exhibit were over heard. American travelers in Moscow liked to tell of a cake of soap missing from the bathroom, a loud com plaint made in the general direction of the chandelier, and the subsequent replace ment of the soap, suggesting that unseen monitors handled room service as well as es pionage.

On his 1965 visit—a hast ily arranged one‐day trip from Finland, where he went as a lawyer to help the Pre mier of Newfoundland and oilman John Shaheen arrange a pulp and paper development —Nixon showed a more re laxed attitude about real or imagined snooping. He left an open briefcase in his hotel room containing his personal income tax return, which he had been working on his client, a former O.S.S. opera tive, noticed the open brief case and warned him about a surreptitious search. Nixon started to go back to close it, then smiled and said that if the Russians wanted to know how much he was mak ing in private life, it didn't bother him.

A decent respect for the requirements of security was paid in 1972 United States agents swept the quarters for evidence of surveillance (and were not surprised to find none). Certain conversations and messages traveled by to tally secure means, but the American party—duly briefed about the ease with which conversations could be over heard and classified material photographed — did not act uptight about unseen ears and eyes. When the SALT negotiations reached the point that required some quick Xerox copying, Henry Kis singer held a document up toward the chandelier and said to an imaginary lens, “Could I have half a dozen of these in a hurry?” Andrei Gromyko shook his head and deadpanned that the hidden cameras in that Kremlin pal ace had been installed in the time of Ivan the Terrible and were not sensitive enough to copy documents. Such a col loquy would not have taken place in 1959.

At the least significant meetings, of course, the greatest precautions were taken. When Ron Ziegler asked a few of us to consult with him in his Intourist suite, he tuned his TV set's volume up to the loudest Herb Klein played his tran sistor radio John Stall banged a highball glass steadily on the coffee table, and I hummed a series of Al Jolson favorites. It is to be hoped that this brouhaha caused some difficulty for any eaves dropper, because it certainly made it impossible for any of us to hear each other.

NIXON'S 1965 visit should not be so lightly passed over in this piece since it reveals a man less constrained and self‐analytical than in 1959, and more impulsive than in 1972. I was not on that trip, but my source is good. Nixon in 1965 was a political has been. With little to lose, he could afford to be daring besides, a little publicity could do some good. Soon after his arrival, his Intourist guides took him to Moscow State University, where he was promptly engaged in de bate by the deputy rector in front of a classful of students reporters were there as well, and Nixon the New York at torney sparred politely. But his eye was on a bigger event. With the aid of a Canadian newsman, he obtained Nikita Khrushchev's address both were private citizens then, and a renewal of the old ac quaintance could not have been considered a diplomatic embarrassment and could have made an interesting story.

Nixon excused himself from the dinner table, leaving his wary Intourist guides in the company of two of his com panions, and slipped out of the hotel, taking a cab to the Canadian Embassy, which was in the neighborhood of Khrushchev's apartment. With a friend, he walked to the house, to be met by two stone‐faced, burly women who said Mr. Khrushchev was not there. Nixon pressed, but was rebuffed frustrated, he wrote and left a letter expressing the hope they could meet and talk again. In all probability, that handwritten note from an American noncandidate to a Soviet nonperson is the most interesting document in the Kremlin's file on Richard Nixon. It was probably not delivered historians can hope it was not destroyed.

What brought about the change in Nixon—from the self‐conscious figure in the kitchen in 1959 to the self confident figure in the Krem lin in 1972? Part of the an swer may be that Nixon's effectiveness as a leader in creased when he applied the policy of containment to himself the self‐justification so labored in “Six Crises,” with each detail sifted and each motive painfully scru tinized, cannot be found in the prose of his speeches and toasts in the Soviet Union this year. No rationalizations, recriminations or apologies were offered.

HYPERBOLE, too, was set aside for the Moscow trip. Nixon admitted turning over a new leaf to reporters before he left: “So my remarks delib erately are not made with the overblown rhetoric [for] which you have properly criticized me in the past.” That was a startling thing for a Presi dent to say, especially one not noted for his sensitivity to criticism it caused his aides to look at each other with a wild surmise.

Compare the two speeches he made to the Soviet people in 1959 and 1972. Although the themes were essentially the same—while our philo sophical differences are pro found, we can cooperate in bringing peace to the world— the styles were poles apart. The 1959 speech is used in public‐speaking texts as a classic in refutational rhetoric, setting up and knocking down a series of beliefs held by the audience, a rational and al most legalistic presentation of an argument that had to be fresh to the minds of lis teners. It was a well‐rea soned, well‐written speech, achieving its limited aims.

The 1972 speech, however, was an effort to reach and stir the emotions of millions of Soviet citizens. Like a dia mond cutter permitted one crucial tap, he studied his ap proach with great care, struc turing his television talk on three images rooted in the Russian character. The first was reference to the “mush room rain,” a sun‐shower that greeted him on arrival in Mos cow, considered a good omen by Russians who think of mushroom‐gathering in the woods the way American sub urbanites think of back‐yard barbecues. The second was the story of the traveler who wanted to know how far he was from town, and was only answered by a woodsman when he had established the length of his stride and the third and most powerful reference was to Tanya, a young Leningrad heroine whose story moves Russians in the way that Anne Frank's moves us, with its evocation of innocence and hope amidst hatred and war.

The President was alerted to the “mushroom rain” idea by Harriet Klosson, wife of the Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy, who passed it to me to pass along to fellow writer Ray Price he was told the woods man story by Henry Kissin ger, who got it from Leonid Brezhnev a couple of weeks before and he researched the reference to Tanya by him self, reading a display on his visit to Leningrad. One United States correspondent dis missed the speech as a tear jerking waste of time an other, who speaks Russian and watched it on television with a Russian family, re ported a misty‐eyed reaction by deeply moved human beings. (An interesting foot note: during Nixon's 1959 speech, an American capably interpreted for Vice President Nixon this year he chose Vik tor Sukhodrev, the top Soviet interpreter, to handle the agreed‐upon simultaneous in terpretation. Soviet viewers who saw Nixon heard Sukho drev, the best in the business at the top of his form—not drily translating, but dramati cally driving home Nixon's mood and message. Obviously, no one told him not to do his professional best.)

ANOTHER example of the change from self‐conscious to self‐confident: a willingness to ad lib. Of course, necessity has a way of encouraging ad‐lib performances—for ex ample, at one dinner on the trip, the lighting was such that the President could not see the words on his papers, and an extemporaneous toast was necessary. However, there has been a change in Nixon's conscious use of the ad lib. On his first visit in 1959, he relied heavily on words he had written the kitchen debate could not be prepared, but other remarks and speeches were honed and cleared beforehand. And this year, at every occasion in the Soviet Union, at airports, din ners or any occasion that re quired a verbal message, Soviet leaders read from a piece of paper, a technique especially suited to collec tive leadership. But Nixon varied his style. His opening toast on the evening of his arrival was carefully scripted, with each word studied for diplomatic shading, and he never departed from the text (“The only way to enter Mos cow is to enter it in peace” was especially well received). In Kiev, however, he set aside a toast prepared in advance, seizing on a note the writer had added as an afterthought about Kiev's 11th‐century “Golden Gate.” He built his remarks around the similarity of the experience of two cities of the golden gate—Kiev and San Francisco—one ravaged by war, the other by earth quake and fire, both with citizens spirited enough to rise and rebuild their cities greater than before. Appropri ate illustrative of historic sweep well‐phrased.

That, I think he believes, is the way Churchill or de Gaulle might have done it. Such ex temporizing is statecraft in the grand manner, and Nixon has a lot of respect for the grand manner. His reading for relaxation in the past month has been “Jennie,” the biography of Churchill's moth er. And the passage in de Gaulle's memoirs about the need for aloofness and mys tery in leadership is quite familiar to him. It may be contradictory to iden tify with Churchill and de Gaulle—giants who dis liked each other—but it is something Nixon does, and a man could have two worse heroes than men with a sense of history and a pride in country.

THE scope of the change in Nixon, in Moscow and in the whole situation was best ex pressed to me by an exasper ated Soviet editor toward the end of the visit:

“Here we are, welcoming as members of your party the representative of the Voice of America, not to mention Vic tor Lasky, author of The Ugly Russian.’ And here we are listening to somebody shout political slogans in the Bolshoi theater—it's strange enough to hear shouts at political leaders, but at the Bolshoi it is inconceivable. And here we are, listening to Richard Nixon, of all people, remind ing the Soviet peoples of Tanya and the siege of Lenin grad and our wartime com radeship. That is not a mat ter of change. That's the world turned upside down.”


Moscow 1972: Nixon Negotiates

When President Nixon arrived in Moscow on May 22, 1972, the prospective results of his trip were all but predictable. Although the existence of the US-Soviet summit proved that both governments were prepared to open a new dialogue, most remained skeptic about the possibility of any agreements emerging from the planned meetings.

The President spent a little over a week inside the Soviet Union, traveling to Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev. He spent twenty hours with the Soviet leadership, and, more importantly, sixteen of those hours were dedicated to direct conversations with General-Secretary Brezhnev. American and Soviet representatives discussed issues that spanned the globe like the Vietnam War, European security, unrest in the Middle East, and arms control, as well as bilateral economic and diplomatic concerns.

By the summit’s end, President Nixon and General-Secretary Brezhnev reached five mutual understandings regarding pollution and the environment science and technology medical research, space exploration and international trade. They also signed the “Basic Principles of Mutual Relations between the United States and the U.S.S.R.,” which outlined practices for future bilateral negotiations and indicated an anticipation for future cooperation.

In their intense discussions, Nixon and Brezhnev negotiated solutions to the final problems plaguing SALT. The Strategic Arms Limitations Talks formally commenced in 1969, and progressed slowly and with mutual frustration over the next three years. On May 26, 1972, Nixon and Brezhnev signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the SALT agreement.

In his memoirs, President Nixon wrote that the summit agreements comprised “the first stage of détente: to involve Soviet interests in ways that would increase their stake in international stability and the status quo. There was no thought that such commercial, technical, and scientific relationships could by themselves prevent confrontations or wars, but at least they would have to be counted in a balance sheet of gains and losses whenever the Soviets were tempted to indulge in international adventurism.”

President Nixon’s visit to the Soviet Union was historic not only because it was a presidential first, but because the summit demonstrated that high-level meetings could produce substantive results and bring the interests of two polarized nations closer together.


President Nixon arrives in Moscow for historic summit - HISTORY

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Dobrynin / Kissinger , Vol. 17. No classification marking. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed by K to D 2:30 pm, Tues, May 1, 1973.”

102. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Dobrynin / Kissinger , Vol. 17. No classification marking. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed to HAK by Vorontsov , 7:15 pm, May 3, 1973.”

103. National Security Decision Memorandum 215

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–208, NSDM 151– NSDM 200, Originals. Secret. Copies were sent to the Director of Central Intelligence and the Chairman of the JCS . Sonnenfeldt forwarded the draft NSDM to Kissinger on April 30 for his signature. (Ibid., Box H–239, Policy Papers, NSDM 215 [2 of 2])

104. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8 1973. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at Brezhnev ’s office in the Politburo Villa at Zavidovo, the Politburo’s hunting preserve located outside of Moscow. Brackets are in the original.

105. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8 1973. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at Brezhnev ’s office in the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original.

106. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger ) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Scowcroft )

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 32, HAK Trip Files, HAK Moscow, London Trip, May 4–11, 1973, HAKTO & Misc. Secret Sensitive Immediate Eyes Only.

107. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8, 1973. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at the Winter Garden in the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original. The portions of this memorandum of conversation on CSCE and MBFR are also printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIX, European Security, Document 147.

108. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8, 1973. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in Brezhnev ’s office in the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original.

109. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8, 1973. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in Brezhnev ’s office in the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original.

110. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger ) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Scowcroft )

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 32, HAK Trip Files, HAK Moscow, London Trip, May 4–11, 1973, HAKTO & Misc. Secret Sensitive Immediate Eyes Only.

111. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8, 1973. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in Brezhnev ’s office at the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original.

112. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8, 1973. Top Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place in the Winter Garden at the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original.

113. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger ) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Scowcroft )

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 32, HAK Trip Files, HAK Moscow, London Trip, May 4–11, 1973, HAKTO & Misc. Secret Sensitive Immediate Eyes Only.

114. Letter From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger ) to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8, 1973. No classification marking. The letter is on White House stationery but it was presumably prepared in Zavidovo to be given to Brezhnev before Kissinger ’s departure.

115. Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger )

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 916–14. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume. This is part of a conversation that took place from 10:15 a.m. to 12:03 p.m.

116. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger ) to President Nixon

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Dobrynin / Kissinger , Vol. 17, May–June 1973. Secret Sensitive Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information.

117. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files—Europe— USSR , Dobrynin / Kissinger , Vol. 17 [May 1973– June 7, 1973]. No classification marking. A handwritten note at the top of the letter reads, “Handed to HAK by D 1:00 pm 5/15/73.”

118. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the 40 Committee ( Ratliff ) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs ( Kissinger )

Source: National Security Council, Nixon Administration Intelligence Files, Subject Files, USSR . Secret Sensitive Eyes Only Outside System. Sent for action. Sonnenfeldt and Kennedy concurred.


356. Editorial Note

On April 20, 1972, Assistant to the President Kissinger arrived in Moscow for a series of secret meetings with Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to discuss the upcoming summit. Although Vietnam and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks dominated the discussion, Kissinger and Brezhnev also reviewed the political situation in Germany. During a meeting on April 22, Brezhnev expressed concern on the prospects for Chancellor Brandt and ratification of the Moscow and Warsaw treaties:

“ Brezhnev : I would like to ask you to tell President Nixon that we value highly the President’s position on this matter, the support he is giving to ratification of the treaties and the agreement on Berlin. I would like you to bear in mind this is not [just] a compliment to the President, this is the truth. At the same time, I don’t want to be too reticent or shy in speaking my mind on other aspects. I want to express the wish that at this decisive stage for Chancellor Brandt and the FRG the President should say a still more weighty word in favor of ratification. This would have a considerable significance and would be much appreciated in the Soviet Union and throughout the world. I would like to ask you Dr. Kissinger to draw President Nixon ’s attention to this.

“ Kissinger : You can be sure I will.

“ Brezhnev : President Nixon does have an unlimited capacity in this respect. It would be a very important step toward very successful negotiations.

“ Kissinger : In what respect ‘unlimited’?

“ Brezhnev : If I were elected President, I would show you. It would be good if I were elected President, but I don’t seek the nomination!

“ Kissinger : With respect to influencing the Germans?

“ Brezhnev : The President has unlimited capacity with respect to ratification. We do highly appreciate his position. The point I make is that we would appreciate any further efforts he could make in favor of it. Intuition is sometimes a good guide, and I have the impression President Nixon will respond favorably.

“ Kissinger : As you know, there are elections tomorrow in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. If these go badly, that is, if the Free Democrats get wiped out or get reduced substantially, or if the Social Democrats don’t do well, then I don’t think anything we do can make any difference. I think the Brandt Government will fall. I give you my best judgment.

“ Brezhnev : Would that be to our advantage for the Brandt Government to fall?

“ Kissinger : No, we don’t want this, but I state it as an objective fact.

“ Brezhnev : The U.S. President still has 24 hours to act. I know you sometimes put out surprise press conferences. Well, the President knows better how to do it.

“ Kissinger : No, we cannot influence a State election in Germany. It is too difficult. I don’t think it will happen, but I wanted to say it would be difficult.

“ Brezhnev : You are a difficult man to come to terms with. We came to agreement immediately before, and we have already notified Semenov immediately.

“ Kissinger : But can you influence elections for us?

“ Brezhnev : Isn’t all this understanding we have reached in favor of that? On SALT , ABM , European issues, long-term credits, the whole radical improvement in the atmosphere of U.S.-Soviet relations?

“[The Russians conferred among themselves briefly, at which Dr. Kissinger remarked: “Every time I say something, there is a brawl on the Russian side.”]

“ Brezhnev : Because, after all, the President is a politician, not a merchant. Politics covers all questions. The important thing is for us to reach agreement.

“ Kissinger : Realistically, what I would like to do is claim credit when the elections go well tomorrow and then ask you for concessions.

“ Brezhnev : What concessions?

“ Kissinger : I’ll think of one.

“ Brezhnev : I’ll be prepared to give you credit if it goes well, but if things go badly, I’ll say it was your fault.

“ Kissinger : You must have read in the Ambassador’s cables that I am vain.

“ Brezhnev : I have never read that.

“ Dobrynin : I have told them you are modest.

“ Kissinger : I will have revolution on my hands. Realistically, it is too late to do anything. If the elections go as expected without radical change in Bonn, we will see what can be done.

“ Brezhnev : What is your general forecast?

“ Kissinger : My forecast is that tomorrow’s election will not affect the parliamentary situation in Bonn. Perhaps some minor parliamentary changes, but it will not affect the situation. Confidentially, we have attempted to be helpful. We invited Bahr to Washington and let it be known, and we have not received anyone from the Opposition. This is a fairly clear signal in Germany. We have not seen Barzel since the ratification debate started. He wanted to come in April and we did not receive him.

“ Brezhnev : I know you received Bahr .

“ Kissinger : And when Barzel came in January, your Ambassador in Bonn can confirm we did not encourage him.

“I want to be honest with you. I had arranged with Bahr to send a memo that perhaps he could use confidentially in early April. But this became impossible because of the Vietnam situation. Our domestic situation became more complicated. We will review what can be done between now and May 4.

“ Brezhnev : This is a very important component of the general package of problems we will be having discussions on and hoping to resolve. We feel that on all the issues, agreements should be reached that will be worthy of our two countries.

“ Kissinger : Mr. General Secretary, we have invested so much in the Berlin Agreement that we are in favor of ratification of these agreements. In light of these discussions, we will see what additional steps we can take to assist ratification.”

After an exchange on the need to discuss European security at the summit, Brezhnev asked Kissinger about membership for East and West Germany in the United Nations.

“ Brezhnev : [O]n the subject of the admission of the 2 German states to the U.N., you know when we signed the treaty with the FRG , there was a clause in the statement on efforts of the sides to secure the admission of the 2 Germanies. Since at the Summit we will be discussing important issues, it would not be understood by the public in the USSR or the GDR or also in the U.S. if nothing was said on that subject.

“ Kissinger : The Foreign Minister knows the sequence. It is possible that the treaties won’t be ratified by the Summit. They may pass on May 4 and then be rejected by the Bundesrat, then go back to parliament for a full majority in June.

“If this is the sequence, then a successful Summit would be a guarantee of ratification. It would be impossible that a German Parliament could reject them after a successful U.S. and Soviet meeting. Secondly as regards the GDR , I don’t want to raise the wrong expectations as regards what we can say at the meeting. I don’t think we can go much beyond the Berlin Agreement. With respect to admission of the 2 [Page 1008] Germanies to the U.N., we frankly have not yet taken a position. My informal view is that we will back whatever Chancellor Brandt wants to do. If he proposes it, we will be prepared to support these steps.

“ Brezhnev : Brandt did register in a document his readiness to support entry.

“ Kissinger : We will check with Brandt before the Summit. We will not be an obstacle. If he is willing, we have no American interest to oppose it.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 72, Country Files, Europe, USSR , HAK Moscow Trip–April 1972, Memcon s)

Kissinger later sent the following undated message to Bahr on the subject: “ Brezhnev has approached us with a request to support UN membership for the GDR and the FRG . We have told him that we will be guided by the FRG ’s approach on this matter. I would greatly appreciate your suggestions on how we should handle this in Moscow.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 424, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, Europe, 1972)

Before the final meeting with Brezhnev on April 24, Sonnenfeldt briefed Kissinger on the growing political crisis in Bonn. The previous day, the Christian Democratic Union won the state election in Baden-Württemberg, and Wilhelm Helms, a member of the Free Democratic parliamentary party group, announced his defection from the governing coalition. While the opposition thus maintained its majority in the Bundesrat, the government was now in danger of losing its majority in the Bundestag. The loss of one more vote there would mean defeat not only for Brandt but also, in all likelihood, for ratification of the Eastern treaties. In a note to Kissinger , Sonnenfeldt wrote that the electoral results “will look ominous to Soviets.” He then offered the following advice on the Soviet request for U.S. intervention: “ B[rezhnev] may believe we could have done something. Let him believe it . You held out hope, indeed virtually promised to do something before May if Brandt survives.” “ If US -Soviet relations deteriorate (because of V[iet]N[am]),” Sonnenfeldt concluded, “[ Barzel ] may well defeat German treaties and—before that—topple Brandt .” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 230, Geopolitical File, 1964–78, Soviet Union, Trips, 1972, April, Notes)

Although he saw “no great sensations” regarding the outcome in Baden-Württemberg, Brezhnev reiterated his plea to Kissinger for U.S. intervention during their meeting on April 24. “Now is a decisive moment,” he declared, “when our two countries should take the necessary steps to further ratification of the treaties and sign a protocol on West Berlin.” After a discussion on summit preparations, Kissinger assessed the recent German developments.

“Dr. Kissinger : I have not seen our official analyses yet, but my personal analysis is that there has been a slight weakening of the Brandt [Page 1009] Government but not a significant weakening of the Brandt Government. In my judgment—again I am only speaking personally—it means that the treaties will be rejected by the upper house and will therefore have to come back to Parliament to pass by an absolute majority in June. It is my judgment that they will still pass. We will use our influence where we can.

“ Brezhnev : America can certainly speak in a loud voice when it wants to.

“Dr. Kissinger : As I told the General Secretary, when I return I will discuss with the President what we can do. Having worked so long on the Berlin agreement, we want to see it achieved. It is one of the useful results of the exchanges between the President and the General Secretary.

“ Brezhnev : I trust you will convey the general tenor and our tone to the President on our policy toward Europe, which contains nothing bad for Europe or for the U.S.

“Dr. Kissinger : You can be sure. We will see what we can do, possibly a letter to the Chancellor, or something else.

“ Brezhnev : This requires looking at things thru realistic eyes, and perhaps everything will fall into place. I’m not in any way suggesting any concrete steps, because I am sure the President knows better. To help your own ally. I already told Chancellor Brandt in the Crimea that we had nothing whatsoever against the allied relationship between the FRG and the U.S. I am sure Chancellor Brandt told the President this but I wanted to reassure you.

“Dr. Kissinger : We will approach it in a constructive spirit. I will communicate thru the special channel. I will see your Ambassador Friday, but I can tell you now we will approach it in a constructive spirit, and with a desire to get the Treaties ratified.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Country Files, Box 72, Europe, USSR , HAK Moscow Trip—April 1972, Memcon s)

Later that day, Kissinger adopted a different line in a memorandum to Nixon on his trip to Moscow. “ Brezhnev and his colleagues displayed obvious uneasiness over the outcome of the German treaties,” he reported, “and made repeated pitches for our direct intervention. The results of Sunday’s election and the FDP defection have heightened their concern, and the situation gives us leverage. I made no commitment to bail them out and indeed pointed out that we had been prepared to assist them through Bahr but had not done so because of the North Vietnamese offensive. We will see to it that we give them no help on this matter so long as they don’t help on Vietnam.” (Ibid.) As Kissinger later explained: “the Soviets’ eagerness to complete these treaties would be one of our assets if Vietnam should reach crisis proportions in the weeks ahead. From our point of view, having the Eastern treaties in abeyance was exactly the ideal posture.” ( Kissinger , White House Years, page 1150)


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