Created: 4/22/1981

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USSR: Leadership Holds Together on Poland

The Politburo appears to haveonsensus, centered around President Brezhnev, to use military force in Poland onlyast resort. There may be some differences among the leaders, however, over hou long the Soviets can let the situation continue to deteriorate. Uses'

In contrast to the signs of differences withinleadership that emerged before the thsre is little clear evidencenature of the debate on Poland. Late last year, reportedly was divided, with some membersfor intervention, whilecontinuing

Somo Soviet military leaders earlier this year believed Brezhnev missed an important opportunity when he decided not to intervene in December. More recently, middle-level KGB officials in Moscow were said to believe that military intervention was the only solution, but they did not know whether KGB chief Andropov held this view.

Differences in Emphasis

Public statements by Soviot leaders on Poland have been cautious but not always consistent. Brazhnev's qualified expressions of confidence in the Poles have not been echoed by other Politburo members actively involved with Polish problems, such as party ideologue Suslov, Defense Minister Ustinov, or Premier Tikhonov. fffl

Brezhnev suggested in his speech to the Soviet party congress that the USSR could tolerate some politicalin Poland, noting that there areealth of ways" to develop thc "socialist" way of life in the "socialist"

Approved forate


community. By contrast. Suslov a* the Cast Corman party congreaa and Ukrainian party boss Shchorbitskiy at the Bulgarian party congress stressed that "ever, the least deviation" fro* the Soviet model must be resisted. MM}

These differences in emphasis couldalculated effort to have Brezhnev take the high road ofstatesmanship while others apply public pressure. They also could represent different views in thehowever, over where to draw the line. MM*

Institutional considerations could also encourage differences. As the party boss of tho Ukraine, Shcherbit-skly would be especially concerned about the Polishspreading across the border to his region. Suslov would bo particularly worried about effects of dovelop-ments Ln the Poliah party on Leninist orthodoxy. fM

Fluctuations in Soviet pressure on the Polos over tho past six months could reflect shifting alignments within the leadership, but the evidence in this respect also is inconclusive. Increased soviet military activity in December and again in March is equally well explainedesponse to developments in Poland or as part of planned pressure on the Poles. MM

The Underlying Consensus

Soviet actions probably reflect concern for profound risks of military intervention in Poland rather than any rifts in the leadership. Politburo seems aware of the costs of trying to govern an economically strapped and politically hostile Poland. Moscow's moves appear to have been designed to force the Poles to take action on their own, while at the same time taking some of the steps required for military intervention, if all else failed. MM

Brezhnev is identified with the effort to avoid military action. Bis power and prestige, reinforced at the recent party congreaa, along with his consensus style of leadership make it almost certain that hisand actions have Politburo approval. Be has always


sought to avoid talcing politically dangerous positions, and he probably would not got out -head of hia colleagues on ao politically sunaitive an issue as Poland.


The acid test for the consensus will come if the Polish party is unable to restore discipline in its ranks. Radical reforms in the party and the removal of the few hardliners left in the Polish leadership are likelynow and the Polish party congress in July, fjasj

Similar issues drove Brezhnev and the Politburo to take military action in Czechoslovakia They probably will be crucial again. fMM

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