Created: 12/6/1978

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tpir^toir. DoDj Salt Task

SUBJECT eservations on SALT Among Soviet ;"


ational Foreign /ssessment our Note of8

Our evidence that some provincial leaders in the Soviet policymaking elite may have reservations on the need toALT IX agreement isenuous and based largely on heavily edited published speeches.n1 .

We have drawn inferences, in particular, from the contrasting approaches to detente exhibited in peeches delivered this year by certain key leaders at the center (Kosygin, Andropov, and Ustinov) and by their Politburo colleagues in the provinces (Shcherbitskiy, Romanov, and Masherov).

- - ja ,

The-centrally based leaders havo givenpositive assessment of'"contradictions" in thesuggesting that detente has

deep roots and should become (if it has notIrreversible"*

tm Tho provincial leaders, however, have avoided positive references to detente, alluding vaguelyeed for peace and disarmament.- In some cases--Romanov, for instance, onough words on the need forjVigilance and heightened defense preparedness further undermine the already dubious neutrality of the leader's position on the issue.

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We believe that the provincial leaders express such reservations on detente--and implicitly- on the need for or the urgency ofALT agreement--primarily because they reflect the biasasically- unenlightened and uninvolved parochial Communist Party organization in their respective bailiwicks. (U)

In private these leaders mayoreapproach to the issue, as Masherov evidently did when he met with the visiting US senators in Minsk last month. In our view, confidential or "frank" discussions with foreigners do not necessarily reveal the individual Soviet leaders's true position on the policy issues under discussion. We assume, for example, that Masherov and other leaders who met with members of the senatorialspoke about SALT within clearly specifiedguidelines. (U)

Unfortunately, as you undoubtedly are aware, there is very little persuasive evidence on the actual views

of Soviet policymakers on these matters. According to one plausible account that appeared in Soviet emigreew years ago, former Ukrainian party leader Petr Shelest voiced last-minute opposition to theummit in Moscow in His argument probably was forceful in the Soviet context, since the US had just begun bombing North Vietnam and mining Haiphong Harbor. He was, however, immediately demotedater removed from' all positions of power, serving as an example of the great political risk involved in such opposition against leadership consensus. This lesson no doubt has not been lost on other provincial leaders, who may in fact be even more constrained in expressing reservations about the current consensus onALT IIprecisely because of2 precedent. (U)


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