IMPLICATIONS OF A SOVIET INVASION IN POLAND

Created: 5/18/1981

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The Soviet leadership almost certainly recognizesarsaw Pact invasion of Poland would encounter significant, widespread Polish resistance b> civilians and possibly by some military forces. Not only would it require large invasion forces, but it would also mire some Soviet military units for years in occupation and policing taski. Soviet prospects foriable indigenous vassal regime -ould be dim. thin probably involving the Soviets directly in administering Poland for the indefinite future Civilian morale and productivity would tumble and the economy would fall into further disarray. The impoitant role of Poland, armed force, in Warsaw Pact war plans would be seriously undermined even if these forces stood aside and acquiescedoviet invasion. If they actively resisted, their current principal Warsaw Pact role would be at an endong period of time.ggT

The resulting costs for the LSSR would be very large. They would include

global propaganda defeat occasioned by the intervention, arrest ofand spectacle of Soviet troops rooting Solidarity

elements out of Polish factories.

The need loarge Soviet occupation force and to replace the Polish ground force divisions opposite NATO with Soviet combat troops

Long-term subsidizaiion of thc Polish economy, which alreadyrain at the current level of S4 billion per year. Even if Poland's fixed capital sustained no damage, this drain would at least double if the Soviets sought merely to keep economic activity from collapsing

Imposition of Western sanctionsevel anduration considerably greater than after Afghanistan Particularly painful would be constraints on access to Western grain

A political setback to Soviet efforts to split the Western Alliance.

Thc need to absorb at least some of the economic burden imposed on other East European countries by the invasion, loss of Polish deliveries, and Western strictures on East-West trade.

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A partial, if only ;cmporary. blunting of Soviet initiatives in the Thirdthe Middle East.

A possible acceleration of defense cooperation between the United States and China

There are offsets to these costs, some of which might be actual gains:

The invasion would shore up Soviet influence in other East European countries, at least in ihe shori run.

Many West Europeans would conclude lhat ihe invasion had. at least over the medium term, weakened thc Warsaw Pact and thus reduced thc urgency of heightened Western defense measures.

An invasion would not destroy West European financial and industrial interest in trade with the Soviet Union, and this interestinitial West European agreement to selected commoditybegineassert itself J|

Two additional serious penalties thc Soviets theoretically could be made to pay if ihey did invade Poland would be:

The loss of key Western imports,lobal embargo on grain and severe consiaints on sieel products. If (he Soviets could be persuaded that theyigh risk ofoss, ii would aciar greater deierreniikely NATO aciions, heightened COCOM controls.or imposition of Western financial restraints. At present, however. Moscow has reason to doubt thaieally lough Western embargo would be politically sustainable for long.

Placing Eastern Europe under the Western sanctions umbrella. This could effectively double ihe impact of sanctions on the USSR. Measures against Eastern Europe, though, would be the tougheslbtain from US allies.

Actions along ihese lines taken by the US administration tooviet invasion, or raise its costs after the fact, could prove counterproductive boih from ihe standpoint of domesiic US politics and of US-West European relations. Moscow would hope, in particular, that heavyhanded US pressure on Western Europe to heighten its defense effort would deepen fissures in the Atlantic

ecent typescripthe National Foreign Assessment Center examined what thc consequences might be if thc Soviets did noi intervene militarily in Poland. Thc present companion paper, equallyexamines what the consequences might be if thc Soviets did invade Poland. This paper also assesses thc efficacy of various steps the West might take to deter or increase the costsoviet intervention. Clearly, the Soviet leadership would have toegree of resistance to invasion far surpassing thai encountered in Hungary6 or Czechoslovakiay the same token, the costs of invasion would also be far higher than they were previously: indeed, the magnitude of these costs no doubt explains in large part why the Soviets have not already intervened. What the costs would be and how the Soviets might perceive them are the focal issues considered in thc analysisJ|

How Much Resistance The extent of Polish military and Civilian armed resistance loan outrighto>iet Invasion? Soviet invasion would dependumber of factors, including the intensity

of Polish anti-Russian sentiment, the disposition of Polish armed forces, directives from the political and military leadership to resist or not. thc position adopted by the Church, the military's command and control over individual units, and the degree Of brutality demonstrated by invading Soviet forces. We believe it is likely ihat:

The Polish political and military leadership would urge the population not to resist and would either issue orders to military units to remain in garrison or noi issue orders at all.

The leaders of the Polish Catholic Church and Pope John Paulould immediately condemn an invasion but would almost certainly advise the population against armed resistance.

Nevertheless, virulent ami-Russian feelings widespread within theat large and in the military, exacerbated by initial bloodshed, would generate powerful grassroots pressures to fight back.

The degree or organized resistance by ground force units would depend on decisions made by divisional and regimental commanders. Some would probably decide to resist. Without organization and control under central authority, however, open military resistancearsaw Pact invasion would be fragmented, not sustainable, and in the end largely ineffectual.

IS. Uonal>:aiion In Poland: Impact ond ImplicaitomM-w

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would calleneral srike. :he occupacton of all major

actories, (he hampering of Soviet troop movements, and prevention of seizures of food by occupying forces There could also be coordinatedf sabotage, such as flooding mines, cutting communications and rail lines, and banking blast furnaces in steel mills.

would also be substantial spontaneous active resistance to invading forces by ihe civilian popul3lionj^|

Altogether then, we would anticipate significant and widespread resistance by civilians and possibly some military units with much bloodshed. While any overt resistance by Polish military units probably could not be sustained for moreeek or so. armed resistance would probably assume the form of guerrilla warfare or terrorism, and passive resistance would grow in intensity as (he invasion phase mergedoviet occupation of Polan

Th* Soviet Assessment There is reason to believe that Soviet leaders may have felt at one time (ha( and So<ie( Options if Warsaw Pac( forces could be inserted into Poland in support of (he

introduction of martial law by the Polish regime itself, there might be lessin (urn would permit the USSR to intervenemaller force. The Soviet leadership may also have entertainedcreeping invasion" (beginning, perhaps,akeover of the main rail trunk lines linking ihe USSR with Eastr thc possibilityro-Soviet military coup lhat could be supported witharsaw Pact iniervemionary force. However, we believe ihai by now the Soviets, in coniemplatinf military intervention, no longer see any viable alternative to ane sure, with whatever "invitational" cover could be arranged

Given the Soviets' likely assessment of ihe substantial resistance thai Paci forces would encounter. wC believe ihey would feel compelled toarge invasion force of al least JO. and perhaps as manyivisions. (s|

Early Soviet objectives would include ihe seizure of Warsaw, iheof Polish political and military leaders, ihe arrest of some Solidarily officials and proreform members of the intelligentsia, and (he establishmentuppei regime The Soviets would also seek to gain conirol of urban centers and seize lines of communications and other key military targets. They would move quickly to isolate Polish armed forces garrisons and discourage resistanceapid show of overwhelming military force.

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They would also act Quickly to put down any Polish units offering military resistance. This wouldarge undertaking and. no matter how massive the intervention, there wouldigh likelihood of substantial damage to the transportation system and other parts of the economic infrastructure ot Poland

Betweensoccupation of Poland's factories would pose the biggest problerr

andthe Soviets in the immediate wake of thc invasion. These enclaves would

provide ihc focal point of resistance, giving heart to those fighiina the Soviets, countering Soviet propaganda claims over factory radio-transmissions, and denying legitimacy to the quisling regime fJJjj

The Soviets could not rapidly or easily remove these centers ot' resistance. The Quickest course would be to shell the factories, but this would inflame hatred of the Russian occupier still more, destroy production facilities, and further blacken the international image of the USSR If Soviet troops were used to clean out the factories, this would take lime and could become progressively bloody.gfM

Poland inSecurity. Once the initial invasion period had ended, thc Soviets

face monumental problems, and it seems almost inevitable that ihe>

would be dragged even deeper into fulfilling basic administrative tasks, including those in the security Held. It is doubtful thai the Polish police or military wouldeliable force for internal security duties, particularly if. as is likely, there were prolonged passive resistance. The Soviets would probably have to bear much of the burden for policing the population for an extended period aBBBf

Passive resistance and noncooperation with authorities would become the rule, but this would be punctuatedubstantial amount of violence against ihe Soviet occupiers and Polishhe Church would counsel against excessive violence but would be careful not toollaborationist role. Although Solidarity would probably be officiallyand limits would be placed on the Church. Solidariiy would become the core for an extensive underground Polish society,ide variety of services for thc population ranging from underground schools to noncensorcd communication to organizing demonstrations, strikes, and other forms of opposition

Regenerationunctioning Government. Obviously, thc Soviets wouldto use their own forcesackup to new Polish parly and government leaders who would take over the day-to-day governing of the country. Whether they would have more success in establishingunctioning indigenous regime than they have had so far in Afghanistan is not certain They would have difficulty finding enough Quislings, especially if ihe intial invasion had been particularly bloody. The pany. especially at the lower levels, would probably disintegrate, and much of the governmental apparatus would slide further into passivity or obstructionism. The Soviets could certainly not count oniable pro-Soviet regime with anything like the speed with which they did so in Czechoslovakia, and even the medium-to-longer-term chances ofadar-type regime enjoying some legitimacy in the public eye would be slim. Thus, the Soviets would probably be heavily and directly involved in administering Poland for the indefinite future.H

Economic Ditarray. Probably the best economic Situation the Soviets could hope for in ihe wake of intervention would be to encounter only general passivity in work places. Production in Polish industry would decline rapidly as morale and productivity fell to new lows. Critical bottlenecks soon would appear in essential services such as transportation and distribution. Civilian disruptions would be made worse by the military's prior claim on the transport network. Widespread hoarding and the withholding of output by private farmers would add to thc shortages. Finally, foreign trade probably would quickly grindalt. Even if Western ships were willing to enier Polish waters, there would be no guarantee (he ports would have (he capacity to unload civilian cargoes or thai the Poles would be working (he docksf sabotage and damage to plant and equipment would of course make the economic plunge even steeper

The Warsaw Pact. Because Poland's role in Soviet plans for war against NATO isoviet invasion could do substantial damage lo (he war-fighting capabilities of the Warsaw Pact. Poland's armed forces are the second largest in the Pact Their principal wartime assignment is to form aadilitary from (army group) by themselves. They are also assigned responsibility for supporting (he wartime movement of Soviet troops and supplies through their territory and securing Soviet lines of communication to Central Europe. Their combat and logistic assignments exceed those of the Czechoslovak or East German forces and make Poland in some respects the most important of (he USSR's Warsaw Pac( allies.

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Even if all Polish military units stood absolutely asideoviet invasion (which we regard asoscow would not be able to interpret thai passive response as ensuring the continuation of Poland's current role in Warsaw Pact plans for war. The Polish military isonscript force, and each year itpercent turnover in its conscript troops. It also relies on mobilized reservists for much of its wartime strength. Thus the Polish armed forcesubsequent wartime mobilization would be composed for the most pan oftroops who probably would share the antagonism of the Polish populace toward the Soviet invaders. The fact that the Polish military did not actively resist thc invasione time it occurred would be no test of how future conscripts and reservists would respondrisis with NATO

Acquiescence by the Polish militaryoviet intervention almost certainly would leadrastic deterioration of morale, even for officers and NCOs. andoss of Polish popular support for the armed forces tn general. As in Czechoslovakiaoviet invasion would probably cause massive resignations from the armed forces and continuing problems in recrmung qualified officers and NCOs. Consequently, the Polish military's combat capabilities would sharply decline, and Soviet expectations atoland's ability to contribute to Warsaw Pact military strength would bereduced

Resistanceoviet invasion by the Polish armed forces probably would put an end to Poland's crucial role in Warsaw Pact war plans for five toears. Even if the resistance were localized and slight, it probably would convince the Soviets of the needhorough purge of the Polish military Until this purge was completed, the Soviets would place little or no faith in the reliability of Poland's armed forces.urge wouldars to complete. This was true of the Soviet purge of the Czechoslovak armed forces after the invasionhen the Czechoslovak military offered no resistance to the Soviet invadersJJfl

Finding an alternative means of fulfilling the wartime responsibilities now entrusted to the Poles would be difficult and costly for the USSR. Current Soviet plans for war are sufficiently flexiblellowomewhat lessened role for Polish combat forces. But the Soviets have not exercised plans for securing their lines of communication through Poland with their own troops and do not appear to have forces allocated or prepared to assume such support assignments. An invasion of Poland would certainly require Moscow to take on this task. Moscow might even have lo compensate for the loss of most, if not nil. of Poland's armed forces to thc Warsaw Pact. These

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forces numberen in peacetime and would more than double In wartime. Replacing ihem wouldtaggering task for the Soviets, and the difficulty would be all the greater in light both of the sizable additional postinvasion forces thai would have to be committed simply to police the Poles, and of the need to maintain the USSR's current commitment of troops tog

Economic Costs. The most immediate cost for the Sovietof the invasionprobably not loom large in Soviet eyes, even if the Poles offered substantial militaryar more significantburden would be imposed by the large Soviet occupation force that would have to be kepi in Poland, possiblyong time, to cope with the widespread popularresistance, insurrection, andthe Poles could be expected to mouni. Maintenance oforce, plus ihe need to replace Polish military forces Opposite NATO, wouldajor reordering of the Soviet force structure and missions. The increased force requirements would comeime of growing Soviet manpower stringencies, especially inasmuch as thc forces would have io be combat troops thai would be drawn largely from ihe Slavic raiher than the ethnic minority population. The cost implications of all these measures for the Soviei defense budget are difficult to estimate, but ihey would be substantial.0

An additional, indirect cost of Soviet military action could be theof the Soviet harvest. The harvest season runs from July througheriod during which Soviet agriculture relies heavily on ihe military for help. Preemption by the military of much rolling slock and civilian vehicles would also cause extensive and prolonged dislocations in the already severely strained transportation system.fjjf

The most serious and longest lasting economic cosi for ihe USSR, however, would be lhat imposed by ihe need io restore the Polish economy to some functioning basis and to sustain itevel sufficient to reestablish some degree of political stability. This wouldainful but inescapablefor the Soviei leaders, since they would want, in the short term, to minimize the effects of ihe crisis onrade and economic activity and. in the long term, io shoreadly shaken Warsaw Pact alliance, ajj

The cosi lo ihe Soviet Union or subsidizing the Polish economy is already substantial: on the order of S4 billion ihis year. This cost would at leasi double if the Soviets did little more than provide enough grain and oiher foodstuffs to keep Polish consumption from dropping precipitously, and

enough energy and industrial materials, to ensure that key Polish industries and mining operations were maintained. If the invasion resulted in extensive damage to fixed capital, the costs would be much greater still, as the restoration effort might then require rehabilitation of flooded mines and reconstruction of damaged plant and transport facilities ffJJ

Poland's hard currency debt service obligations would not need tourdenon the Soviet treasury. Moscow would not want tosec Poland default on its debt, since that would reflect badly on East EuropeanHut it might encourage Poland toebt moratorium and to open discussions on rescheduling. At the same time,ingle Western creditor's demands could plunge Poland into default, andossibility cannot be ruled out fg

Moscow is well awareloody intervention in Poland would lead to the imposition of Western sanctions on the USSR. What costs these sanctions might impose would depend on their scope and duration. The United States by itself could do little to hurt theouch sanctions program adopted jointly by the United Slates, Western Europe, and Japan, however, couldar suffer price than did the post-Afghanistan sanctionshe strength and durability of allied cohesion on this issue would depend in part on how bloody the confrontation in Poland became H

A sanctions effort limited to denials of equipment and technology sales would not create muchardship, simply because few large projects are on the horizon. The notable exception is the proposed gas pipeline from Wesi Siberia to Western Europe. It would be an early casualty of Western sanctions,tartup date completely out of reach. Particularly painful for the USSR would be constraints on its access to Western grain. Agreement among the US. Canada, thc EC. and Australia to limit sales would leave only Argentinaotential supplier (although even Buenos Aires has stated it would consider joining an embargo if the USSR invadedestern denials of industrial goods would also be costly to Soviet planners facedrowing gap between domestic production and ncedsfor items such as machinery, steel, and pipe and

chemical feedstocks. "JJ

Impact on Soviet Relations With Westernoviet invasion of Poland, particularly if it were bloody and actively resisted, and tedrotracted armed struggle, would destroy optimistic West European assumptions about an East-West security relationship that have persisted

since thcn the short term, the Soviets realize, anould heighten West European perceptionsoviet threat and seriously set back Moscow's efforts to weaken the Western Alliance. The Soviets would not believe, however, that an invasion would destroy West European hopes for eventual East-West rapprochement, or nullify thc economic and political desires that drive West Europeans toward accommodation with MOSCOW^

The ebb and flow of Polish developments have given NATO some time to prepare its immediate reaction to an invasion. Moscow is probably aware that thc allies have agreed on an economicand diplomatic sanctions posture, including trade curtailment, recall of ambassadors, and scuttling of thc languishing Madrid review meeting of thc Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (although not of the Helsinki Final Acthile allied armed forces would be placedtale of heightened readiness, giving NATO some enhanced military flexibility. Moscow would noi anticipate that NATO would take any serious military aciions.H

West Europeans have viewedcareful construction of ties meant to constrain and define the boundaries of East-Westmaking war in Europe less likely, and increasing mutual confidence in the motives and ooltcies of competing powers. Some West Europeans have expected thai detente would increase the Soviet sense of regional security enough so lhat Moscow would not need to fear social evolution within ihe Warsaw Pact

A Soviet invasion of Poland would undermine ihese assumptions, reviving W'esi European doubts about Soviet intentions, exacerbating West European perceplions of ihe Soviet threat, and thereby reducing public confidence in ihe East-West relationship. Detente, inense, would cease to exist.HI

Thc West Europeans, however, wouldeed toew basis for East-West relations, and would begin lo do so once the Polish situation had stabilized. Many would believeialogue wilh (he East was still necessary to reduce dangers of war. Some would argue that the Soviei invasion occurred within the USSR's own sphere of influence, and therefore constituted an understandable, if deplorable,ore common, if less immediate, reaction would be that economic interests required an East-Westdi. despite the intrusion of military diplomatic shocks. Resumption of ar. Fast-West dialogue wouM not be far behind fJB

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Soviet militarj intervention in Poland might helpimeefuse West European opposition to NATO mili;ary modcr.nizaiion. The allies probably wouldaccelerate implementation of Long-Tern Defense Program goals. But the allies probably would not significantly increase their defense spending. While incremenial adjustment in defense budgeis would be possible as pan of an initial, angry reaction loan invasion, few West Europeans would be willingacrifice social welfare andprograms for ihe sakeefense buildup. Indeed, on reflection. West European governments might well conclude that the invasion had. at least over ihe medium term, weakened the Warsaw Pact and thus reduced ihe urgency of heightened military spending. The allies perceive little benefitilitary buildup because they do not believe that they can match Soviet conventional slrengih. and do not want to increase reliance on nuclear weapons to counterbalance it. An invasion of Poland, therefore, would at best only temporarily help NATO's effort to deploy new long-ransc theater nuclear forces."^

The West Europeans would retain their long-term interest in arms control. While an invasion would freeze or end existing arms control talks, the West Europeans would continue to believe that arms control offers ihe best road to military sccuny. LRTNF talks, even if suspended in (he immediateofan invasion of Poland, would be quickly revivedest European condition for missile deploy men

A similar pendulum swing would be exhibited in the 3rea of East-West trade, since an invasion would not permanently destroy West European financial and industrial interest in such tics. Initially, the West Europeans would agree to selected commodity embargoes, although these wouldbe of limited duration. Negotiations for thc construction of plants, pipelines, and other major economic facilities probably would be suspended, but not permanently terminated. Although West European governments would agree to limited application of economic pressure, they are skeptical about the usefulness of broad economic sanctions. They have complained in the past ihat such measures hurl their own economies at least as much as they hurl the Soviet

The extent of individual countries' financial exposure in Poland probably would have little impact on their initial reactions,ebt moratorium would undoubtedly be declared, irdcfault did occur, it would be unlikely to cause widespread bank failures or serious jeopardy lo the international monetary system because central banks would

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A Soviet invasion of Poland couldrofoundly negative impact on theortunes of West European Communist parties, which these parties would attempt to forestall. Italian Communist Party leaders have already strongly hintedoviet invasion of Poland would lead the PCI to break relations with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Spanish Communist Party, as wel! as the smaller British. Dutch, and Belgian parties, would strongly condemn an invasion. Even the French Communist Part* would denounce an invasion: the legacy of its stance against the invasion or Czechoslovakia is the sole remaining source of thclaim to "Eurocommunist" status. The PCF has alreadytronger ami-invasion line as part of the price for participation in thc new French Government.M|

Otherthe short run atoviet invasion of Poland would shore up Soviet

in other East Europeanof course, would have

been one of the primary objectives behind the invasion. An invasion and subsequent rollback of reforms would put an end to any "spillover" effects of Poland, reinforce the more pro-Soviet elements within the other East European regimes, encourage the imposition of hardline internal policies, and strengthen pressures for still closer alignment with the USSR.

The main costs to the Soviets in Eastern Europe would probably beAn invasion would,rolonged period, further reduce Polish deliveries of coal and manufactured goods to some of the other East European countries (notably East Germany andisrupting CEMA economic ties and forcing the East European trade partners of Poland lo seek more costly substitutes. The capacity of the East European economies to cope wiih their economic difficulties by introducing modesl reforms would probably be further inhibited. Thc East European countries could all expect to suffer from reduced credits from and trade with the West, although thc severity or the impact would depend in part upon thewith whieh individual East European regimes were seen in the West to have rulfilled their "fraternal obligations" in invading Poland. While the Soviets would undoubtedly be unwilling to underwrite all the costs to their allies of an invasion, they would probably be compelled to absorb some or Ihe burden in responseleas that failure on their part to do so might spread dcstabilization within the "SocialistJ

Elsewhere in the world, the Soviets could count on few benefits from an invasion of Poland, although many of thc costs would probably prove to be transitory. An invasion would obviously not improve the Soviet image within

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Thus even if Argentina failed lo adhere to aa embargo, denial of Western grain by the US. Canada, the EC. and Australia wouldajor setback to Soviet consumption and the liveswefc sector. Moscow has reason to doubt, however, thatomprehensive Western embargo would beustainable for long in the face of tumbling pricesorld gram market that would quickly become

The West could effectively double the impact of sanctions on the USSR by placing Eastern Europeanctions umbrella. Indeed, putting the burden of additional support for Eastern Europe on the USSR's shouldersime of increasing domestic economic stringency would prove far more disruptive lo Soviet plans and options ihan would Western measuressolely against Moscow. To the Soviet requirement of at leastillion tons of Western grain would be added an East Europeanofillion tons of grain. Eastern Europe also depends on Ihe West for substanual amounts or industrial materials and advancedand equipment. In lerms of impact, its denial wouldultiple of the actual value of the trade lost. Only by supplying the Bloc from Soviet production could Moscow replace forgone Western trade: even if the USSR were willing, comparable replacements do not existumber of instances.

Measures against Eastern Europe, however, would also be the toughest to obtain. All the allies would be quick to note that these would undermine any movement toward greater liberalization in Eastern Europe, hurtingthe West has tried to wean away from Soviet dominance.

Moscow policymakers would certainly hope that actions taken by the US administration tooviet invasion of Poland or raise its costs after the fact would prove counterproductive. In the United States, they would expect substantial domestic opposition to be mounted by key groups whose interests would be affected by the imposition or various sanctions, and they might hope that attempts to push such sanctions through Congress wouldcleavages within the government and weaken ihe presentIn other Western countries, the Soviets could count on growing resistance to US efforts to employ the prospect or realityoviet invasion of Poland to get allies to adopt extra sanctions beyond those already agreed upon, to further heighten military readiness, to increase defense spending, to deploy additional or new weapon systems, or to accept the abandonment of various arms control agreements or initiatives. Moscow would attempt to capitalize on this resisunce to divide the Western Alliance.

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