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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 28, 1983


This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    The CC CPSU announces that it is breaking off negotiations with the US and NATO on Strategic Arms Reduction.
    "CC CPSU on Withdrawal from Strategic Arms Reduction Negotiations (2)," May 28, 1983, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD.
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Dear comrades!

The CC CPSU considers it necessary again to address your party with an exposition of its point of view on urgent and highly acute issues.  

The appearance of American “Pershings” and cruise missiles on the European continent is becoming a fait accompli.  Through this action, the United States has unilaterally ruined the talks in Geneva.

The Soviet Union’s principled position connected with the evolution of the situation, was laid out in the address by the General Secretary of the CPSU, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Yu.V. Andropov, published on 25 November 1983.

The current turn of events, which contradicts the interests of peace and the interests of all of the peoples of the world, was predetermined by the position of the US.  And at issue here were not some subtleties of the American proposals in Geneva, but the fact that from the very beginning to the end of the negotiations in Geneva, the US saw them as a means of buying time, as a screen for their preparations to deploy their missiles in Europe no matter what with the goal of demolishing military-strategic parity in Europe and in the world.  In other words, from the start the US did not want to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement on nuclear weapons in Europe and did everything they could at the negotiations in Geneva and outside them to avert such an agreement.  

As for the Soviet Union, it, as you well know, did everything within its power, went to the limits of the possible, to find a solution at the negotiating table.  

We proposed an equitable option to the West to resolve the issue: a major reduction of medium-range nuclear weapons by both sides.  West European leaders said on more than one occasion that if the USSR reduced the number of its missiles to 1977-1978 levels, then “rearmament,” that is the deployment of the new American missiles, would not be necessary.  We proposed an even more significant reduction - to the 1976 level.  Our proposals opened the way - in the presence of mutual good will - to fully ridding Europe of medium-range weapons and tactical nuclear weapons.  However, these proposals were rejected by the US and its allies in NATO.  In this way, it was once again confirmed that Washington is not interested in the reduction of Soviet missiles, but in the deployment of American missiles, that it is concerned not with the “threat from the East,” but rather with the effort to create a “threat to the East,” that its plans have not a defensive, but an aggressive character.  

American imperialism and its allies through NATO are now trying to convince the populace [obshchestvennost’] that the deployment of US missiles does not change anything essentially.  They are trying to deceive their peoples, asserting that the new American missiles will even assist negotiations with the Soviet Union.  But this is a crude falsification.  

The objective of the negotiations in Geneva was the limitation of nuclear weapons in Europe.  But the deployment of American missiles is not a limitation, but a growth of nuclear weapons and, consequently, this act at root undermines the very objective of the negotiations and deprives them of content.  We would be agreeing to a deception of the peoples if we agreed to continue the negotiations in such conditions.

The deployment of American missiles creates a new situation in Europe and in the entire world.

For almost forty years - longer than any time in history - Europe is living in conditions of peace.  That has become possible thanks to the consistently peace-loving policy of the countries of the socialist commonwealth, the efforts of peace-loving forces on the continent, and also to the realistic position of sensible politicians in the West.  The existing approximate balance of military forces in Europe, including of nuclear [forces], between the states of the North Atlantic alliance and the governments of the Warsaw Pact, have objectively served the cause of European security and stability.

Now the US and NATO as a whole are taking a step directed at tipping the scales in their direction.  The nuclear missiles which are deployed near the borders of the Soviet Union and the other countries of the socialist commonwealth are not at all designated for the defense of Western Europe - no one is threatening it.  With the placement of American missiles on European soil, the real danger that the US will bring a catastrophe on the peoples of Europe is growing, rather than the security of Europe.  

In Washington, they would like to think that in deploying their medium-range missiles in Europe and in creating by the same token an additional nuclear threat for the socialist countries, they will manage to direct the counter-strike [otvetnyi udar] away from their home.  As for the security of the West European allies of the US, it, so it would seem, interests the American leaders only insofar as the West Europeans with their lives and their cities can reduce the retribution directed at the United States itself if Washington succumbs to the temptation to unleash nuclear war in the illusory hope of winning it.

On the whole, what is at issue is the beginning of yet another extraordinarily dangerous branch of the nuclear arms race.  Also at issue is a new and fundamental infringement of the sovereignty of the West European states.  At issue is a serious blow to the security of the peoples of the European continent and to the security of the American people.  Finally, at issue is an increase of the threat of nuclear attack for the peoples of African and Asian countries, which will end up in range of the new US missiles.  

After all, now the American militarists’ finger will now lie on the launch button of the nuclear missiles based in Europe, and moreover, neither its peoples nor its governments will take part in answering the question of whether or not to start a nuclear war from its territory.

Responsibility for all of this lies with American imperialism.  It is shared by those political officials in the countries allied with the US who, disregarding the interests of their peoples and the interests of peace, are helping to carry out the militaristic plans of the Washington administration.

The Soviet Union and the other countries of the socialist commonwealth cannot close their eyes to the fact that Washington has declared a “crusade” against socialism as a social system, nor to the fact that those who have now allowed control over the deployment of new nuclear weapons on our threshold are basing their practical policy on this reckless errand.  

Now, after the beginning of the deployment of American missiles has taken place, the Soviet Union and other countries in the Warsaw Pact are obliged to take measures to neutralize the military threat brought into being by Washington’s actions, measures about which we have issued warnings many times already.  Washington officials must understand that they cannot dictate their terms to the world without punishment, that they cannot scare the Soviet Union and the other countries of the Warsaw Pact with their nuclear weapons, [and] that they will not manage to carry out nuclear blackmail.

Having weighed all sides of the situation which has been created, the Soviet leadership took the following resolutions, as announced in the Address of Yu.V. Andropov.

First.  Insofar as the US has through its actions destroyed the chance to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement in the negotiations on limiting nuclear arms in Europe, and as their continuation in these conditions would only be a cover for the actions by the US and a series of other NATO countries aimed at undermining European and international security, the Soviet Union considers further participation in these negotiations to be impossible.

Second.  The obligations taken upon itself unilaterally by the Soviet Union which had as their goal the creation of more favorable conditions for achieving progress in the negotiations, are cancelled.  By the same token, the moratorium on the deployment of medium-range nuclear weapons in the European part of the USSR is cancelled.  

Third.  By agreement with the governments of the GDR and the CSSR, preparatory work on the deployment of operational-tactical missiles of increased range on the territories of these countries, which was begun some time ago, as was announced, will be speeded up.

Fourth.  Insofar as the US’s deployment of its missiles in Europe is increasing the nuclear threat to the Soviet Union, corresponding Soviet forces will be deployed in keeping with this circumstance in ocean regions and in the seas.  In their character, these forces of ours will be adequate [to meet] the threat created against us and our allies by the American missiles deployed in Europe.  

Of course, other measures directed guaranteeing security to the USSR and the other countries of the socialist commonwealth will be taken as well.  

We want to emphasize that we are talking about measures of an extraordinary, urgent character which were not earlier planned by the Soviet Union.  In contrast to the new American missiles, about which a decision was made by NATO four years ago, the need for countermeasures by the USSR arose only recently, when it became clear that the American missiles would be deployed no matter what.  We hope that your party recognizes the compulsory character of our countermeasures and their correct proportions from the point of view not only of the security of the Soviet Union, but also of general European, as well as global security.  The “Pershing-2” and cruise missiles present a great threat to the Soviet Union, since they are aimed at its political and military centers.  If we did not oppose these missiles with corresponding weapons, including those aimed at corresponding targets in the US, the adventurers from Washington might easily be tempted to make a first nuclear strike with the goal of prevailing in a “limited” nuclear war.  The disruption of the military balance in their favor could prompt the ruling circles in the US to undertake a sudden attack on the socialist countries, as a result of which not only all of Europe, but also the US as well as the countries of the other continents, would suffer.

And this is not an abstract assumption.  If anyone still harbors illusions in relation to American policy, these must have been dispersed after the US’s invasion of Grenada.  This unprovoked aggression clearly showed that American imperialism is ready, without meditating the consequences, to resort to military force in order to win its dominant positions in the world and that it can also countenance the risk of unleashing a broad war for the sake of attaining its mercenary class interests.  

Consequently, countermeasures by socialist countries are dictated in the interests of assuring not only their own, but also general security.  Of course, the best resolution would be the limitation or full liquidation of nuclear weapons in Europe.  However, the US and its allies are not agreeing to this.  For this reason, in the situation which has come about, we have no other option.  To remain indifferent to the deployment of American missiles would be tantamount to assisting the approach of nuclear catastrophe.  

Proceeding to the realization of the resolutions we have undertaken, we state that the counter-measures taken by the Soviet side will be strictly restrained within the boundaries dictated by the actions taken by NATO countries.  The Soviet Union - and Yu.V. Andropov again emphasizes this in his Address - is not striving for military superiority, and we will do only that which is absolutely necessary in order that the military balance not be disrupted.  

If the US and the other NATO countries show a willingness to return to the situation which existed before the beginning of the deployment of American medium-range missiles in Europe, the Soviet Union will also be ready to do so.  Then the proposals earlier introduced by us on the issues of limiting and reducing nuclear weapons in Europe would once again come into force.  In this case, that is, under the condition of a restoration of the previous position, the USSR’s unilateral obligations in this area would also be renewed.  

The Soviet Union announces with all resolution and firmness that it remains devoted to the principled course toward the halting of the arms race, above all the nuclear [arms race], to the lessening and ultimate elimination of the threat of nuclear war.  In future as well, it will apply every effort toward the attainment of these noble goals.  

The CPSU as before advocates the most radical resolution of the issue of nuclear arms in Europe.  We repeat our proposal to rid Europe as a whole of nuclear weapons - both medium range and tactical.

The CPSU advocates that all nuclear powers, and above all the US, follow the example of the Soviet Union and announce a renunciation of the first use of nuclear weapons.

The CPSU advocates immediate negotiations on concluding a treaty between the Warsaw Pact and NATO to rule out the first use of any military force - of both nuclear and conventional weapons.  

The CPSU confirms the readiness of the Soviet Union to agree without delay to a freeze on nuclear weapons on the condition that at least the US does the same thing.

The CPSU considers it necessary to exert a maximum effort to create non-nuclear zones in different regions of the earth, and in the center of Europe - such zones free of battlefield nuclear weapons.  We as before confirm that the USSR will never and under no conditions use nuclear weapons against countries which do not have their own or foreign nuclear weapons on their territory, and we are ready to conclude the relevant agreements on [these] guarantees with non-nuclear countries.

The CPSU also confirms the other peaceful initiatives which the Soviet Union has already spoken about on the issues of disarmament.  Without change we advocate the elimination of nuclear weapons and their banning and the dissolution of military blocs.  

“The Soviet Union is convinced,” Yu.V. Andropov emphasizes, “that peace can be secured and the security of peoples guaranteed not through the increase and acquisition of all new kinds of arms, but, on the contrary, through a reduction of existing armaments to immeasurably lower levels.  Humanity has too many tasks which are not being resolved simply because of the diversion of colossal material, intellectual and other resources.  And from this point of view, the achievement of an agreement on the radical reduction of nuclear and other armaments would be a boon for all peoples.”

Now the cardinal issue arose before all of us: how to preserve the active force of the anti-war movement, how to support it with maximum enthusiasm and to preserve it from decline.  This is our common, one could say strategic, goal in our work with the anti-war movement, which today is playing a special, very important role in the cause of strengthening European and international security.

Imperialist propaganda strives to inculcate the populace [obshchestvennost’] with the idea that the anti-war movement has “lost the battle against the American missiles.”  In this way, they want to demobilize peace-loving forces.  In fact, the anti-war movement has yielded excellent results - [it] has changed the entire psychological atmosphere in Europe, has drawn very wide strata into activism which until now stood aloof from politics, and assisted the activation of the anti-nuclear movement in the US, Japan, Canada and other countries.  

At one time, it was precisely the anti-war movement which practically forced the US government to come to the negotiating table in Geneva.  It was thanks to the very anti-war movement that the will of the European people was expressed, the majority of which oppose the American missiles.  And that will continue to exert a powerful influence on political parties, parliaments and governments.  

Having achieved the beginning of the missile deployment, Reagan and his nearest allies through NATO took a loss in the wide political arena.  They threw down a challenge to European popular opinion and brazenly flouted the will of the majority of the population of the West European countries.  And this creates favorable conditions for the further activism of the anti-war movement, for the unfolding of mass protests against the very fact of the missiles’ deployment, against the reckless and dangerous policy of Reagan, NATO, and the other allies of the US in the military blocs.

We are operating on the assumption that the anti-war movement, which has put down such deep roots and has accumulated so much political capital, must not weaken its pressure exactly when it is most needed.  The role of the anti-war movement is growing precisely in connection with the growth of the military threat.

For the consolidation of this movement, the issue of slogans in keeping with the new conditions and sentiments of the masses takes on great significance.  In connection with this, we would like to share the thoughts expressed by the representatives of different circles of this movement in conversations without representatives.  Their essence boils down to putting forward the following slogans alongside the old ones, depending of the concrete conditions in each country: “Stop the deployment!”, “Send back the deployed missiles!”, “Remove the nuclear threat from Europe!”, “Reagan is war!”  The slogan on freezing the nuclear arsenals, which has created a general basis for the unification of the European and American anti-war movements, is taking on ever greater significance.

We also see the difficulties which the anti-war movement is now encountering, including possible outbreaks of anti-communism and anti-Sovietism.  It is obvious that some of its branches [techeniia] are not immune to imperialist propaganda, and others tend to exacerbate existing ideological and political disagreements.  Definite damage has already been inflicted by those operating separately, in isolation from the populace of socialist countries, in partnership with so-called “dissidents.”  For this reason, the struggle for the breadth and unity of the anti-war movement and the showing of the breadth and significance of the movement for peace which is unfolding in socialist countries is taking on even great significance in the new circumstances.  Our common interests and a strengthening of the anti-war movement’s platform would be served by concentrating efforts on explaining the approach by the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries and fraternal parties to the issues of limiting and reducing nuclear armament in Europe and the justification for the counter-measures by the countries of the WPO [Warsaw Pact Organization]; propaganda of peaceful initiatives by socialist countries directed at halting the arms race and banning nuclear war, and at shoring up the principle of the non-use of force in international relations.  Evidently, it would be expedient to emphasize that if the deployment of American missiles in Western Europe were halted and those already deployed were withdrawn, the Soviet Union would be ready once again to take part in the negotiations with the US on this issue.

Under the current conditions, the exposure of the militarism and adventurist policies of the US has huge significance: an intelligible and broad demonstration of the fact that on that the responsibility for the break-up of the Geneva talks lies entirely with American imperialism; of the fact that the goal of American imperialism consists of attaining military superiority and of the political subordination of other countries; of the fact that the unpredictability and adventurism of US policies can lead to nuclear war in Europe, which would grow immeasurably into a general nuclear catastrophe, without the knowledge and assent of its peoples and governments.  

In the difficult circumstances which have arisen, a particular responsibility rests on the shoulders of the communist parties.  The communists are called upon to double and treble their efforts in the struggle against military danger, to bring together all who are able to participate in this struggle, and to expand the circle of their allies.  For instance, trades unions, which in a series of countries are participating ever more actively in anti-missile public statements, could play a large role.

The international solidarity of communists and their allies in the struggle for peace and against the aggressive policies of imperialism and the coordination of their efforts in this struggle are a factor which is aiding the growth of the international authority of the communist movement, permitting it to made its dignified contribution to the cause of defending peace and human civilization in the nuclear era.

We would be grateful to you, comrades, for an exposition of your position on the issues touched upon.

With a fraternal greeting,