USSR: OPTIONS IN DEALING WITH POLAND

Created: 5/29/1981

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SPECIAL ANALYSIS

USSR: Options in Dealing With Poland

Political turbulence in Poland ia tha Kremlin's moat urgent and frustrating problem. It ie urgent because the Soviets know that liberalisation must be brought under oontrol if they are to maintain hegemony in Eastern Europe. It is fruetrating because Moacow has already ueed politioal and military pressure tactics short of armed inoaeion, without much auoeeea. Moacow, in effect,o-win situation. The politioal, military, and economic costs of invading Poland would be enormous, but letting the situation continue to slip also carries major costs. )

lt appears store likely that the liberalization trend will not be reversed and that Moscow eventually will move to bring the Poles to heel, what happens between now and the Polish party congress in aid-July willey role in Moscow's calculations. Moscow conceivably couldransformed Poliah party, but only if party chief Kania gets the liberalization process under control and reassures the Soviets that the Poles vill continue to honor their Warsaw Pact commitments. ffsV

The Poliah Party Congress

The process of liberalization bas now spread to the Polish Communist Party itself, and that ia new. Tho reforms already carriod out: come dangerously cloae to the kind of democratization that is ana+^cmn in the Soviot model of Communism. fseT

The Kremlin has urged Warsaw to postpone the congress, but the Poles insisted on going ahead. The Soviets have grave doubts that the Polish leaders are either willing or able to control the process. Moscow also realizes that, at this stage, it would benotreplace Poland's leaders with stalwarts who could impose tougher policies, ffj

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The only Soviet moves with real deterrent effect hove involved the tangible threat of military The repeated uae of this threat, however, can drain it of much of its potency. The Soviets nay now reckon that if troops and tanks are icadieu the next time, they will have to be prepared to make good on the MMMm

Disincentives

Outright military Intervention would carry enormous risks. The Soviets fear that some units of the Polish Army might resist. The economic cost of the invasion and of keeping the Polish economy afloat, would be considerable, MM

Moscow's attempt to block HATO's TOP modernisation would founder. In addition, the USSR does not want its relations with the US to falltate of complete disrepair, and it does not want to bring about closer Sino-uS ties. Moreover, Moscow does not want to lose access to Western credits, particularly the development of the gas pipeline from Siberia to Western Europe, fsff

These factors are not lightly dismissed. Those Soviet leaders who probably place most store by them also attri-buto some importance to the following considerations!

Poland, unlike Czechoslovakia, ommon border with NATO countries, the threat to Soviet security interests con more easily be contained.

high Polish official has cast doubt on Poland'o loyalty to the Wu.saw Pact.

number or hardliners have thus far kept their places ln the Polish party leadership. MM)

According to this argument, Poland has not yet reachedpoint of no return. It is thus prudent to give the Poles more time to sort themselves out. sssj

This line of reasoning apparently has prevailed so far in Kremlin councils. The Kania leadership conceivably may be able to reassert enough control to reassure Moscow and gain more time. ffj

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Members of Solidarity recently have been wlllinqwith government officials in calmingsituations. The Poles have long

living in Moscow's shadow, and they will try to avoid giving theretext to intervene militarily.

Narrowing choices

... rTh? hlgn leVo1 ofdoes moke it harder for the Soviets to sort out and weigh their options. Over

the pastonths, those options have gradually beento either watching carefully and admonishing thedeferring militaryinvading with overwhelming military strength. MM

Tho continuing liberalization, which the partymay well legitimize, could force tho Soviets to make an unwelcome choice. They may conclude that falling to act decisively would mean forfeiting their last chance tooviet-style Communist system in Poland, and that risk outweighs the probable coata ofmilitary intervention. mm

Since last summer tha Soviets have improved thoof many of the lorceo that could be used to intervene. To ready an intervention force large enough to ensure- euccesa, however, the Sovieta would still have to mobilize reservists and make large-scale logistic preparationa. Thla process would take about two woaks.

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