MOSCOW'S POLISH PROBLEM

Created: 6/1/1981

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National Fotcien 3) Assessemer

Moscow's Polish Problem

Arj.Intclligcrice Assessment

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Moscow's Polish Problem (u)

An Intelligence Assess me til

Information available as of!1

has been used In the preparation of ihlt report.

t

The authors of this paper areOffice <

David Bush of the Office of Strategic Research. Comments and queries are welcome and should be directed to the Chief, USSR-Eastern Europe Division. OPAj"

The paper was coordinated with the Office of Economic Research and the National Intelligence Officer for the USSR-Eastern Europe. Q

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Moscow's Polish Problc

nonlh-old social and potilical crisis in Poland presents the USSR

with one of iu most significant aod comptex foreign policy problems since World War II. The Soviet response thus far has been measured, largely because of Poland's sire, iu people's strong sense of national identity and historic opposition to the Russians, and because military intervention would carry enortnoui cosu with no guaranteeatisfactory solution. |

At the outset, the Sovietsoliticaland military pressure short of militaryit was the least costly course and, on the basis of their experience with past Polish crises, held out hope of success. Moscow's confidence in this course of action, however, has eroded. The Kremlin's assessment of iu chances for getting what it wanu inreversal of (he liberalization process and the reassertion of Communist partyprobably bleaker now than at any point in the crisis. The momentom of liberalization not only is not receding but has spread to the Communisi party. ^

The nonmilitary levers Moscow is using seem increasingly ineffective; indeed, the only tool that has had any observable deterrent effect has been the threat of military intervention. Twice in the past six months the USSR and other Warsaw Pact countries took military preparations that increased their ability to move into Poland on short notice. The failure to go beyond rattling sabers, however, may have limited the effectiveness of future posturing. [

The Soviets probably doubt that they can count on Polish military cooperation in rolling back liberalization. Therefore, if ihey.decide to use military force, they will try to confront the Poles with such overwhelming strength that resistance would be futile.

Left undisturbed, the Polish liberalization process is likely to continue to evolve for years. The difficulty for the Soviet leadership is to decide at what point the cosu of alkrwing this slow-motion revolution to continue outweigh the costs of ending il by military force.

We cannot say how close the Soviets might be toudgment to intervene miliurily, but from their perspective the trend in Poland is decidedly negative. For Moscow, the key now is the course of thetrend in the Polish party. It isoregone conclusion that the Polish leadership will be unable to control liberalization in the party. But if lhat movement gains significant strength before tbe extraordinary party congress in mid-Jury, the Kremlin willhoice to intervene miliurily or risk losirig any chance ofraditional Soviet-style Communisi party in Poland, i 1

Se^T

Polish Problem Q

ofSo-ki PoMey

The Soviei response lo the Pobsh crisis has evolved in three broad phases. From the initial strikes in0 until late November. Moscow adopted arestrained stance; it stood by as the parly settled the strikes on tho Baltic Coast in late August by granting unprecedented corsccssions lo the workers. The Soviets approved of. and possibly facilitated, parly chief Gserek't removaleptember aad firmly supported his accessor, SUrsula* Kaaia During tbe fall. Ibc Kremlin applied some press.re on tbc Poluh regime to stand firm against ibe Ocmarsch of tbe free irade union. Solidarity, but appeared willing to give the new party leader maoeovering room to deal sviib Poland's problems!

Kania'i ceneeiiions to Solidarity's escalating demands in late November prompted the Soviets to applymore overtly. For Ibe first time they appeared to be seriously considering military intervention, but then settled for otherarsaw Pact summit on 5make dear to the Polish leadership that Poland's albesInner line iowardSolidar.lv From tbe summit until early April. Moscow steadily increased its media criiiciim. pressed the Polish regime io complete plans for martial law. aod used the Warsaw Pact exerciseoth to influence events in Poland and to increase Pact preparedness to intervene militarily. Although these pressures on Warsaweak during late March, the Kania regime againompromise wuh Solidarity, this time over ihe incsdeni in Bydgoszcz inrolvinj police brutality against Solidarity members (see appendiasj"

Despite lhc regime's ccrccsscgn. whichhreatened general strike, Moscow decided to ease the military pressure. At the same time, however, itto haveeassessment of Ihe siiuntion. The important new factor, which may force theto alter Its strategy, is that the initial confrontational approach taken by Ihe Polish party leadership lo the Bydgoszcz incident provokedrounds1 of support from ibe rink and file for

deixrocratic reform of the panyplit in the partyossibility. The issue of rallyingraditional Marxist-Leninist basis-has now overtaken the confrontation between theand Solidarity ai the most crucial problem facing tbc Soviets. Q

Moscow's Political Opt so.

At the outset of the crisis, the Soviets chose aand military pressure short ofinierventit was tbe easiest,course and because it held out hope ofthough it might lake yean for tbc regimeits authority in Poland.]

The primary reason Moscow chose this courseand continues iothe encsnneus costs of military intervention:

Poland would require the largest Soviet military operation since World Warnd could involve fierce Poliih resistance.

Imcrveniion woaldong-term occupationizable military force:iversion would com-plicateSoviet security planning in Europe. ThePact would be weakened in anyTO by an inability to use Poland's armed forcea, as well as those Soviet forces tied down in Poland.

economic price of tbe invasionto met) lion the coats of reviving Poland swould be immense Moscow would take on anburden of at0 billionayear to keep the Polish economy afloai The disruption of thaiwould in addition diiturb increasingly integrated economies of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistanceestern credits, technology, and grain deliveries would dry op for the Soviet Union at lean temporarily, further damaging iti economic prospect!.

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Moscow's effort to salvage detenteritical strategicbe sei backThe Soviet attempt to derail NATO's theaicr nuclear force (TNF) tnoderolration would founder, and'the Kremlin's abilitynfluence those NATO member countries hedging or opposed to increased defense spending would be reduced. The rxospecis for progress in strategic arms limitation talks with the United States would presumably

Apart from these coats, thereumber of fadon that have allowed the Soviet leaders to temporize in their approach to ihe Polish crisis. They had no reason, at least for the first several months, lo question the loyally of Kaaia. the Polish party, or the Polish Army. Despite much concern on the part of the other Easi European regimes, there has been no significant spillover of either labor or political unrest in any olhet Warsaw Pact country.

Tbc Soviets probably also hoped thai tbc situation in Poland could be turned around by political means Moscow has had Jong experience wiih "Polish crises" and knows lhat oonecsj;cos granted under duressumber of occasions were gradually wtiiiled away. Tbehich tbe Soscts alsobul then sieppsd back from military was broadly similar to ihe current trouble in Poland. At lhat lime party leader Oomulka's success in taking back most of what he conceded gave the Soviet leadets grounds lo believe lhat this course might be tepcated.[_

Despite Ihe damage to the Polish party from last summer's labor unrest, the Soviets were probablyccnfidkrM that the party underhead of the securitybe able to regroupand recoup Its losses. Soviet officials expressed the view from the start lhat Poland's crisis stemmed from economic factors and could be resolved through an economic revival. The Soviets apparcnily believed thai the added stringencies the Polish people would hnve lo endure on the lOutc to recovery would tarnbh Solidarity's Image as champion of working people. Moscow probably also calculated that Poland's Roman Catholic Church would actestraining force out of concern for Poland's national integrity.]

Moscow's confidence ia the validity ofremises has eroded as the crisis has progressed. The Polish leadcrshTps un.illir.gncss to confront Solidarity

rectly. iu deteriorating conirol over local party branches, and ike gtowth ofa tlrong reform movement among ibe rank and file have given rite lo grave doubts in ibe mind* of lhc Soviei leaden lhal ihe Polish party has either the ability or the will lo halt Ibeprocess, ll has become increasingly clear that the crisis, although sparked by economic issues, has takenrimarily political cast and (hat (he political challenge Solidarity represents will not disappear with an improvement in the economy. Finally, the Church has not had (be restraining influence on Solidarity the Soviets hoped for: in fact, it pressed the regime to recognize the new farmers' union. Rural Solidarity, j

Pursuing the political option has carried costs of its own. Prolonged political and economic Instability in the USSR's largest and most importantlies astride the traditional Central European invasion routes to and from Russia and isital corridor, essential to Sovici militarycreatedamong the Soviet armed forces Al (be same time, (be continuBlion of the crisis has iiterfcred with Soviet foreign policy objectives- With the Soviet threat to Poland on ihe front page almost continuously in lhc West, Moscow hai been put on the defensive and has had difficulty focusing Western attention on some of its initiatives, particularly PresidentNF moratorium

Poland's (roubles have aho undercut (be USSR'scentral in iu pitch lodevdopingthai the Communut system is immune io such disruptions. The prolongation of the crisis is causing both political and economic problems for the East European regimes and strains within the Soviei-kd alliaooc system.ihe caiawncc of those regimes resit on Soviet miliury power.ailure to stop Polishcould be interpretedign of Sovietby Oliver Bait European populations and perhaps embolden them to make similar demands, j

Basic Issues and Moscow's Objectives

The revolutionary changes thai bave uken place in

Poland over the pastonths include

The establishf trade unions, independent of party control, for both workers aad farrners.

The creation of an independent student organization.

Tbe loosening of censors hip.

transformation of the Parliamentubber stamporum for the debate of social issues.

beginningsemocratization of the Polish Communist party. Q

The oominant Soviet goal in the short run is to bring this processait and, over the longer run, reverse it andreater degree of party control over Polish society.inimum, Ihe Kremlinoland that:

Communist party preeminence.

loyal to ibe USSR.

Soviet foreign pobcy goals.

Fulfills its rmbfary commitments to tbe Warsaw Paci.

Observes tis economic obligations to (heountries.| j .

la specific areas, set out below, tbe Soviets have certain ultimate objectives and minimum requirements As the crisis has progressed, (hey have lowered their especia-uona in each area substantially and arc probablyto live wilh much lesi than they would havepossible last August.

Rranmioa of Party Central The party, rather lhan reirouping after August, has been weakened bydiscord and has proved an ineffective tactician in its confrontation with Solidarity. Optimally, the Soviets want the party not to make any furtherand ta demonstrate through firm action that it is regaining ihc upper hand.inimum. Moscow is determined lhai the party avoid situations where it is forced to back down in (be face ofa show ofy Solidarity. The Soviets realite that there ishc0 siyle of party rule and thus may be willing to accep! some sharing of power by the parly in strictly defined areas like trade union and agricultural affairs.

Mmimttmamce af eke Cemtfliud Cmmmmmin Party Although Ibe Kama leadership scons intent on preserving the party practice of democratic centralism, wherein decisions are made at the top and handed down, il is publicly committed to greater parly including elections by secret ballot and with

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multiple candidates tint may loosen (be leadership's grip on policy.c of party liberalization was the primary determinant of the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakiat and has emerged as tbe central issue in the Polish problem. Merc too tbe Sovietshowever,eturn to tight, centraliied rule is irrrrxesJbic and may eventually come toore diversified party if radical reforms are avoided.

Steeray From Polities. Solidarity has established itselftrong, organized political force with substantial veto power over party decisions Over time, the Soviets probably could learn to liveolidarity that focused primarily on trade unionthoughommunist system those issues are inherently political

Moscow believes that,irst step, politicalmainly intellectuala, who are giving theolitical ideology must be split from the workers. The Soviets have pressed for the arrest of the dissidents, but Kama has resisted, arguing that this would provoke it confrontation with the union that tbe government could not win. Instead, be is trying to use political tactics to separate the dissidents from ihe union but has made little prog ten. The fear that the regime may crack down, moreover, has helped prompt Solidarily to

urther political dimension as protector of the dissidents and political prisoners. |

Unification of ike Trade Union Morrmtm Vmder Party Argil. Moscow has continously champrortcd ibeverament-control led anions, seeing; themolitical counterweight to Solidarity aad ibe nucleus To* an eventual reunification of Polish trade unions. Moscow and Warsaw want to breathe more vitality intooyal" unions, but have few practical ways to do so qnlckly.| |

Control of Two Existing Non-Communist Political Parties and Prcrention of Formation of New Ones The regime has been successful in this area, despite talk last fallatholic party and recent ferment within Ibe mainly middle class Democratic Party. The most serious threat might come from the new farmers' union. Rural Solidarity, which could drain support from the increasingly discredited United Peasants' Parly. In Czechoslovakiahere were public callsrue multiparty system at least five months before Moscow invaded. J-

Maintenance of Party Control of Media. Even though the party has kept the censorship mechanism largely intact, practices have been liberalized cottsaaerably. Kama, moreover, has been forced to give Solidarity

Sejarff*

to the media and hai been unable to prevent it from liming iu own ncwi thectt and leaflets, some of which have been highly critical of regime policies. Tbe Soviets might continue to live with teas censorship so long as open criticism of the Communisi system or Poland's foreign policy, especially Iu allianceis avoided. Their decision to intervene militarily in Czechoslovakia was prompted in part by theof censorship. They will monitor closely the regime's success at reining in union publications, the term* of Solidarily'* eventual access to the massand the statutesew censorship bill now being drafted, Q

Remaining Option

Moscow's assessment of ihe chances for getting what it wants in Poland is probably bleaker now than al any time throughout the crisis. The momentum of liber altzation not only is not receding but has spread to the Communisi party.[

The Doomiliury levers Moscow is using seemineffective. The Soviets could put furtheron the Polish regime to resist liberalization, or on the reformers to moderate iheir demands, through direct media criticism of Kania and Prime Minister

Jaruzelskj, sutcmenu by Soviet Politburo members expffeiily critical of ibe Polish party, and additional bilateral or Warsaw Pact summits Moscow will also continue to support the few hardliners who remain in the Polish leadership, hopinginimum to prevent their removal. Replacing Kania with someone who wouldougher policy no longer seems toeasible option. Even if the Kremlin could pull tbeishardline leader would be deserted by ihe majority of the party.[ |

Similarly, Soviet prospecu for convincing the Polish regime todeclarc martial law ire limlied. With most of the national leadership on record as opposed loorceful solution, it appears lhat Ihe only thing that could compel Kania and 'aruncltki to implementlaw wouldoviet ultimatum to do so or be invaded. There is little chance, moreover, that martial lawcouVd be instituted without sparking widespread unrest, which would, in turn, probablyoviet military intervention Indeed, the only lever that has had any observable deterrent effect has been tbe threat of mibtary intervention

Twice in Ihe pasimonths, at the end of November and in late March, the USSR and other Warsaw Pact

Hl-uiit

look military preparation* that increased their ability to move into Poland wiih limited forces on short notice. In neither case did the Soviets complete preparations that would be necessary toarge combatassembly of nocks ofto overwhelm the Polish Army should it resist.[

The Polish leaderships knowledge of these mililary preparations and the reporting of them by tbe Western press haveimited deterrent effect on unrest in Poland. The rattling of sabers and tbe failure top. however, bare probably limited ihe effectiveness of future Soviet posturing. The threat of forceever for the Sovietseapon of lastbe employed only after they conclude that Ihc Polish leadership is unable to bring the situation under control)

The Miliury Option

Inililary intervention, thewould not be much concerned withATO miliury reaction. Whatthem is tbe extent to which the Polishand the party would oppose such aneven if the Polish military leadership shouldtbc tikdihood of resistance by Polishinternal security force units j

The Soviets probably no* doubt they can count on Paten miliury cooperation. Therefore, in the event chey decide to resolve the situation by military force, they will try to confront the Poles with suchstrength lhal resistance would be fulile. To projeci an image of unity on the pari of the Warsaw Pact in rejecting Polish revisionism. Ihe Soviets would also want other Pact armed forces to participate in the intervention.|

All Warsaw Pact combat forces in and around Poland are now in garrison.tdTicieniry Urge-scale invasion force could be commit led inajor mobiluaisosi of reservists aod civilian vehicles and widespread logistics preparations would havee conducted. Such preparation would require about two weeks.!

Some of the preparations undertaken since last fall will, however, make it easier for the Soviets to ready themselves for anumber of low-strength Soviet divisions in the western USSR have practiced mobilizing reservists since last September. Moreover, during thexercise. Warn* Pact forces opposite Poland had an opportunity to refine plans for moving Urge combat forces into and across Poland.-

Outlook

Trying to predict the course of any revolution ina risky venture; so too. with tbe Soviet Union's response to differentin Poland. It would be safe lo predict,thai if party rule collapsed, or if Poland pulled out of the Warsaw Pact or CEMA. Moscow wouldIt also seems likely that if tbe Polish party could limit the liberalization process, the Soviets couMmanage to liveolidarily thai confined itself strictly to trade union issues. Kremlin decisionmaking in cither of these cases would be greatly simplified.

The development of Ihe crisis thus far. however,that the revolution's course is likely to mothesethis is Moscow's dilemma. The strategy chosen, first by Solidarity and now by reformers inside the party, has been to confront the leadership, extract concessions before retreating, and then consolidate for the next round. The forcesthe leadership are well aware that ihey have the strength to bringollapse of the system through an all-out confrontation. They are equally aware that this would bring in Soviet troops, and they would lose everything ihey have gained.

Left undisturbed, the liberalization process is likely to continue to evolve for years. The otfficiiliy for the Soviet leadership is to decide when the cosis ofthis slow-motion revolution' to continue outweigh the costs of ending It by military force,

It cannot be concluded lhat simply because the Poles continue to proceed with caution, the Soviets also will forbear. The longer tbe liberalization continues, the deeper its roots grow and the costlier the Soviet option of using force becomes. Thus, the Soviet leaders may decide to intervene not in response to any particularas the Bydgoszcz incident and itson the basis of their analysis of an accumulation of less spectacular occurrences lhat seem to be evolving into an irreversible trend j

1 Or. "creepingoscow catti il.j

Developments outside Poland might play an important role in Moscow's decisionmaking. The deaih offor instance, could shift the balance in thetoward thoseilitary intervention. Similarly, if the Soviets conclude that there is little prospect for any meaningful improvement in their relations with key Westernrucialwill have been removed, j j

We cannot say how close the Soviets might be toudgment to intervene militarily, but from their perspective Ibe trend in Poland is decidedlyFor Moscow, the key now is the coarse of the liberalization in the Polish party. It isoregone conclusion that Ihe Polish leadership will be unable to control liberalization in the party. But if thatcontinues to gain strength before theparty congress in mid-July, the Kremlin willhoice to intervene militarily or risk losing any chance ofraditional Soviet-styleparty in Poland. | j

Appendix

Selected Major Events in the Polish Crisis

August

Agreement. Regime agrees to numerous reforms, including the establishment of independent trade unions, after several weeks ofwith striking workers and in the facehreatened general strike. Union organizers acknowledge the leading role of the Communist party and agree that tbe newnamednot actolitical party. The agreementactor in the replacement of party leader Edward Gierekeptember and initiates the liberalization process that has continued to the present. Moscow is surprised by strength of the popular protest and reportedly endorses Gdansk agreementactical move necessitated by the need to defuse the immediate crisis. At the same time, Moscow begins to take measures to improve the preparedness of military forces that would be used in any military

October

ovember

Strike. Solidarily. in its first show of strength,ne-hour strike for pay increases and access to the media. More broadly, the strike is intended to push for the application for legalization that Solidarityin late September, and to impress on the party the union's power. Action may have prompted new party leader Kania to hold his first meeting with Solidarityeek later, and provided further evidence to Moscow that Solidarity commands substantial nationwide support.^

Solidarity Legalization. In agreement worked out soon after Kania's late-October visit lo Moscow, regimeersion of union's charter that it had earlier rejected. Although action is greeted jubilantly by union leaders, it fails to end labor unrest. Soviets publicly ignore the legalization, although they may have given grudging approval in advance in the belief this step would itabilize the situation.'

December

Pact Meeting. Moscow summit is part of Soviet pressuremilitary movements at Poland'sresponse to escalating labor unrest and the Polish regime's capitulation to Solidarity's political demands. Kania buys time, apparently on condition that he resist union demands more firmly. I I

Workweek Issue Resolved. Solidarity wins concessions on early introductionhour workweek, publication ofa union newspaper, and radio-television coverage of union activities. Agreement comesonth of increasing tension between the union and the government, including two major work stoppages by union members, and on the evehreatened nationwide general strike. Regime threatens to impose martial law but does not follow through. Soviet media coverage reveals increasing Kremlin displeasure with the regime for yielding on key issues. I-

Jam*clskf Becomes Prime Minister. He retains his defense ministrypresumably to underscore warnings that the regime will use force unless the labor turmoil ceases. Appointmentesponse to growing party and union disenchantment with government's performance and to Sovietover continued concessions. Soviets strongly endorse appointment. Jaru2elski callsday strike moratorium, but is compelledeet student demands for an independent union to secure domestic tranquillity, which lasts only until early March. After conclusion of Soviet party congressarch, Soviet and Polish leaders hold summit. It reveals that Soviets had become less confident in Kama's ability to control liberalization process.

arch

of Bydgoszcz Incident Agreement between Solidarity andconcludes period of heightened tension markedriefstriketormy party Central Committee plenum at which leadership is criticized for its hardline stance. Government promises, in the agreement, to punish those guilty of beating up Solidarity activists in Bydgoszcz and guarantees security of new union. Dissatisfaction within Solidarity leadership that negotiations had not been more fruitful leads to resignation of several militants. Moscow, after exhorting tbe regime to stand firm through its media and extending the Warsaw Pact exerciseases the pressure slightly. Janizelskjew strike moratorium in part to mollify the Soviets, who were probably displeased over regime concessions in the agreement. The regime subsequentlyore moderate posture and approves registration of the peasants' union. Rural Solidarity.1 I

Central Committee Plenum. Polish party leadership goes on record favoring greater party democratization and makes limited personnel changes in response to growing pressure from rank and file for broader reforms. Extraordinary party congress is set for mid-July. Soviet party ideologue Suslov confers in Warsaw with Polish leadership the week before the plenum. Poles present case that some party reforms are essential, while Suslov expressed deep Soviet concern over the movc.l

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