THE SOVIET DECISION TO INTERVENE

Created: 8/21/1968

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LIBRARY Mandatory Review

lA^/ls CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE Directorate of Intelligence

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SUBJECT* Tho Soviet Decision to Intervene

It Between the end of the Cierna-Bratislava meetings arid yesterday's invasion nothing happened inside Czechoslovakia to support Moscow's claim that these meetingsreat victory fororthodoxy'. Neither' wasotable recrudescence in Czechoslovakia of the "anti-socialist" trends which brought on the Warsaw meeting and its harsh ultimatum. Thus, we doubtising sense of alarm in Moscow is the essential explanation for Soviet intervention.

Soviet politburo on its returndid not summon tlie central Committeeon the Cierna and Bratislavaommunique in the name ofpolitburo saying that those meetingsgood piece of work. The Soviet leadersthereafter to have scattered forsummer holidays. The Soviet pressits attacks on Czechoslovakia. Thegiven was that Moscow was willing at last

to give thechastened by. the nearness of their approach to therespite. What went on in Czechoslovakia during the short span of time since Cierna proved only that the Czechs had not understood Cierna to mean that they should put their reforminto reverse.

is not likely that the Soviets,they have persistently underestimated

the'strength 'of reformist spirit in Czechoslvakia, expected miracles to be done by Dubcek in three weeks' time. Even if Dubcek had promised them, there was no chance he could deliver. What, .then, brought the Russians, after they had decided to

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step back at Cierna, to give the signalcrush the

aytime before we can answeruestion with any assurance. On the strength of what we know now, the most likely explanation appears to be that, .under the impact of internal pressures within the leadership and of importuning from its anxious allies in Eastern Europe, thedecision at Cierna to give Dubcek and company more.time became unravelled. This would suppose-as there seems some reason tothe Soviet polltburo wher. it went to Cierna was divided in mind, and that the standoff reached theremostly from Soviet irresolution. The fragile balance in the Soviet leadership which produced the Cierna agreement has, in the space of less than three weeks, been upset in Savor of those who may all along have wanted the toughest kind of oollcy and have made use of the time and developments since Cierna to undo the agreement,

indeed, .the political scales in Moscow been in such precarious balance, itreat shock to upset them, but onlyof solid signs that developments ingoing Moscow's way. There were few ofthe short time available to Dubcek hisdemonstrate that he could insure theof the Communist party had not been Czechoslvak information media remainedunrepentant. There was no indication thatpoliticalexample, theCommitted Non-Party People and thebeing forced to takethe renewed pledges of fidelity toat Cierna, there continued to be muchPrague of broader economic ties with the West.

visits to Prague of Tito andall too visible reminders that the ranks ofCommunist states were swelling. with preparations moving aheadthe party congress scheduled- to open on 9it was becoming clear that the congress

might sound ths death knell over the Czechoslovak party conservatives, Moscow's last hoperake on reformism in Prague, Tha congress would have meantheck on the momentum of the Czechoslovak reform movement, but ite confirmation. In addition, the cost of maintaining the mobilization of massive intervention forces may have created pressures in the leadership to use these forces or disband them.

7. Despite the smoothness of the Sovietoperation inumber of Soviet political actions suggest that the decision tothe plan of intervention cameairly late stage. Among these wore Dobrynin's approach to the President, the convening of the Central Committee in the midst of the top leaders' vacation, the flimsi-ness of the iegal base for Soviet action, and the failure to surface quickly an alternative leadership in Prague. Thus it would appear that Sovietin Czechoslovakia did not follow naturally from tho Cierna meeting but represents,crapping of the position arrived at there.

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