US MILITARY ACTION AGAINST LIBYA: POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS FOR A US-SOVIET SUMMIT

Created: 5/1/1986

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Libya. Even after the postponement of the aeetlng between Secretary Shultz and Foreign Hinister Shevardnadze, Gorbachev returned to the subject of the suanH, stating that one could take place "if the appropriate International atmosphere" develops. The USSR's rhetorical stance has left open the possibility of further Soviet action, hoarever. Including the deferral of this year's summit. In consideringtep, the Soviets would have to weigh the prospects for progress on bilateral Issues, and on anas control in particular, against their concern about losing prestige by proceeding with preparationsummit while Washington Has pursuing actions perceived as challenging to the USSR. |

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oscow's postponement of the

Shultz-ihevarcnadze meeting wasymbolic expression of support for Libyaay to save face with the USSR's Arab allies:

the US action had embarrassei leefore its Arab allies and had left it with no choice but to cancel the meeting. To have gone ahead with the meeting, he said, would have compromised Soviet interests in the Middle East.

Moscow seems to be avoiding actions that would lead to heightened tensions with the United States over Libya or that could encourage Qadhaf1's adventurism. Uhlle the USSR has offered diplomatic and political support to Qadhafi and promised to bolster Libya's "defenset has shied away from any specific commitment to come to his aid militarily:

Moscow's authoritative reaction to the US aira government statement and remarks byleft open the doorummit this year but also laid the rhetorical groundwork for canceling it, depending on future US actions in the international arena:

he USSR Government statement onpril demanded an "trrmediate end" to US actions against Libya and warned that "otherwise, more far-reaching conclusions will have to be drawn." It noted that prior to the latest US attack, the Soviet leadership had warned that continued US actions against Libya "could not but affect" US-Soviet relations.

In his speech to the East German party congress onpril, Gorbachev said that Washington and European capitals should realize that such actions are doing direct harm to dialogue between the United States and the USSR. He said there "should be no pretending' that US-Soviet relations can develop independently of US behavior in the international arena.

In remarks to journalists in Potsdam onpril, Gorbachev said thathe US Government continues its current policies, which he said were exacerbating the international situation and destroying the spirit of Geneva, this could "deprive of value all plansuture meeting."

In an address to East German workers onpril, Gorbachev saidummit could take place if the "appropriate international atmosphere" develops and it will be justified if it leads to "real shifts toward disarmament.' He said that the USSR was ready for this but that such readiness was not evident in Washington at the moment and that Washington was acting in "quite the opposite direction."

Soviet leadership statements and media commentary indicate that Moscow is not viewing the US air strikes as an isolated incident but ratheranifestationroader US policy aimed at intimidating the USSR with US military strength. Onpril Gorbachev told the Swedish Prime Minister that the attack on Libya wasink in the chain of provocative actions" undertaken by the United States to aggravate US-Soviet relations. In talks with East German workers onpril he cited US policy toward Libya, Nicaragua, Angola, and Afghanistan as examples of an alleged US policy ofnd Soviet media have condemned US naval operations in the Black Sea, the supplying of Stinger antiaircraft missiles to rebel groups in Angola and Afghanistan, the cutting of the Soviet UN staff, and continued US nuclear testing. peech onpril, Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze also asserted that there was an "organic link" between the "bursts of bombs" in Tripoli and Benghazi and US nuclear explosions in Nevada.

Even before the air strikes, Gorbachev had begun to voice increasing pessimism about the overall course of US foreign policy since his meeting last November with President Reagan. Inpril speech in the Soviet industrial city of Tolyatti, he charged that the United States had launched, "with newn anti-Soviet campaign. He claimed that Washington was trying to find "any pretext" to wreck an improvement in the international situation that had begun to manifest itself since the Geneva meeting.

Coupled with this purported concern about the overall direction of US policy are signs of an apparent skepticism in Moscow about the value of

ialogue with tne United States if it did not lead to concrete results on arms control issues. In his Tolyatti speech, Gorbachev observed that the Central Committee had received "numerous letters" of concern from Soviet citizens who worried that the West wouldspurt forward in arms" under the cover of peace and "fruitless" talks. Apparently attempting to allay any such concerns, he asserted that this would not happen and that the arms race "will not wear us out." In his address to the East German workers he reiterated this theme, saying that "Soviet people" often ask whether the United States "will not deceive us" and use the talksover for building up its military muscle to acquire military superiority. He said the USSR will not be deceived and will not permit negotiations "to be usedmokescreen '

It is unclear what impact the US air strikes may have had on Moscow's calculations with respect to the summit. If there are differences of view within the leadeshtp on the value ofummit, the US airstrikes may have made it more difficult for Gorbachev to proceed with summit planning.

Moscow almost certainly would prefer to play the summit card to influence the Administration's deliberations on bilateral Issues, particularly on arms control, rather than expend it in reaction to the Libyan situation. Nonetheless, Soviet commentary and leadership statements suggest that an underlying concern in the Kremlin is the extent that US military and foreign policy actions make the USSR appear lackingesolve, unsupportlve of Us allies, and weak-nerved in the face of demonstrations of US military strength. Against this backdrop, another US military action against Libya might well prompt Gorbachev to announce that the Kremlin's planning6 summit has been deferred. Such an action, ortronger statement, would be motivated less out of interest in showing support for

Libya thanerceived need to demonstrate resolve toward Washingtonhe faceariety of OS actions perceived to be challenging the USSR. Moscow would weigh the consequences ofove against its assessment of the potential political, diplomatic, and propaganda valueummit to its efforts to moderate the Administration's policy by engaging itolitical dialogue.

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