SOVIET FOREIGN POLICY (NIE 11-9-1964)

Created: 2/19/1964

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Soviet Foreign Policy

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

Soviet Foreign Policy

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

THE 1

CONCLUSIONS 1

I FACTORS AFFECTING THE SOVIET

II. GENERAL STRATEGY . S

III. TACTICS IN THE NEAR

SECRET

SOVIET FOREIGN POLICY

THE PROBLEM

To estimate developments in Soviet foreign policy over the next year or so.

CONCLUSIONS

A. An accumulation of serious internal and external problems led the Soviets byo make the shift in their foreign policy course signaled by the test ban treaty. The Cuban missile crisis, by its dramatic demonstration of the unfavorable relations of power, hadeappraisal of risks and opportunities for advance against the West. Internal economic difficulties were mounting and were sharpened by the burden of the arms race. The increasingly strident Chinese challenge to the Sovietalso stimulated the searchew approach. )

B We believe that Khrushchev considers the present period inauspicious for direct pressures against the West and has adopted the relaxation of tensions as the main theme of his policy. He will probably avoid inflaming such sensitive issues as Berlin, or any others which carry the risk of directwith the US. He probably hopes that in an improvedclimate he can hold down defense costs, gain time to concentrate on internal and bloc problems, and encourage the West to grant the credits he needs At the same time, he expects this line to aggravate Western differences, which tend to emerge more strongly when the Soviet threat appears to fade Tothe improved climate, thc Soviets are likely to completenegotiations for certain bilateral agreements with the US and seek limited understandings on disarmament and other matters )

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the Soviets do not intend to curb theirpolicies in the underdeveloped world or to foregowhich might appear there. In fact. Khrushchevrelaxation of East-West tensions to increase the numbersituations which the Soviet can exploit. The Sovietin doing ao is reinforced by competition withfor leadership of the "national liberation struggle."it is always possible that developments notthe Soviets willemonstration of "firmness" onCubarime example of this kind ofisosition to embroil the USSR in seriuusthe US which would call for the Soviets to providefor Cuba, although they will clearly wish to avoidlike that )

Soviets probably intend to follow their presentsome time. Khrushchev with his customary optimism,almost certainly looks forward to the time when,with his current problems, he can returnorecourse. In our view the factors which led to thcof present Soviet policies are not transitory; there tschance that Khrushchev underestimates his presentand that these policies will tend to be slretched outrelatively short period of this estimate. This does notthe present improvement in the internationallikely to evolveonger Umeore seriousbasic settlements with the West. More fundamentalthe Soviet outlook than any now in prospect would bethe Soviets could bring themselves to)

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DISCUSSION

n our last NIE on Soviet foreigne viewed the Soviet leaders as caught up by indecision, hesitating in the tace or the stark realities brought home by their failure in the Cuban missile crisis. This crisis had demonstrated not only the new dimensions of US power but also US skill and determination in wielding it In the aftermath, the Soviet leaden were still confronted by the very problems which their Cuban missile venture had been intended to solve. Tne overall balance of power between East and West remained unfavorable. The economic strains of the arms competition loomed as costly as ever. The Chinese challenge to Soviet authority was growing in breadth and depth.

yt became apparentew overall approach to these various problems had been reached, atrinciple. In the economic sphere, short-term plansere lo be revised in order to shift sizeable amounts of resources to the chemical industry. Consistent with this new turn of economic policyhift In East-West tactics, manifested in Khrushchev's concessions to the Western position on the limited test ban Almost simultaneously, the Soviets confronted the Chinesetrong counterattack. The net result of these new movesotable relaxation ol Fast-West tensions, some limited accords between East and West,ignificant widening of the gap between the USSR and China.

I. FACTORS AFFECTING THE SOVIET OUTIOOK

3 The considerations which led to this lactical turning ofere, we believe, quite fundamental in character. They flowed from an accumulation of problems, partly inherent in the development of the USSR and the Bloc, and partly the specific byproduct of the generally offensive line of policy Khrushchev had pursued since he opened the Berlin crisishese considerations are not merely transitory and will almost certainly continue to influence thc Soviet policy outlook for some time.

he Strategic Balance. The course on which Soviet policy launchedas built on the expectation that the USSR, for the first lime in the post-war struggle, was aboul loajor advantage in strategic weapons. Khrushchev was evidently persuaded by Ihis prospect lo believe that the Wesl could be forced into concessions The intervening five years have demonstrated, however, not only that the US was capable of resisting this challenge, but also lhat In the field of strategic weapons it could outpace the USSR. The SovieU found thai

Main Trends In Soviel porelftnoled rj3

the heavy cost ol the intensified arms race was incompatible with Khrushchev's commitment bothigh growth rate to overtake the US economy andore rapid improvement in Soviet living conditions.S military and intelligence programs ledituation in which both sides, and indeed much of world opinion, understood that the strategic advantage did not lie with thc USSR, even though the ability of the USSR to damage the US was increasing. The Cuban missile venture was an attempt touick and relatively inexpensive advance in both the substance and the image of Soviet power. Itshas left the Sovieis little choice but to find ways to contain the arms race and reduce Its burden on the Soviet economy.

Economic Policy.ajor degree, the present more moderate general line adopted by Khrushchev reflects the strains In the Soviet economy. Economic strength is only one ingredient in the balance of power, but Khrushchev has madeey area of competition ln his peaceful coexistence strategy. As the Soviet leaders contrast their own economic difficulties and the economic malaise in much of Eastern Europe with the vitality of Western Europe and the upturn in Americangrowth rates, they have little reason for optimism. Because of the nature of these economic problems, they were bound lo encroach on Soviet foreign relations.

Tlie Soviets haveew economic course whichajor shift of resources; their aims are to stimulate agriculture,Industry, and revive the rate of economic growth. Moreover, the magnitude of the new Investment effort for thc chemical industry bears directly on Soviet relations with the West. The Soviets cannot provide thc equipment needed for their chemical program without extensive purchases abroad; their hard currency deficits and the decline of their gold reserves oblige them to seek long-term credits for thc necessary equipment. An effort to stimulate Western competition for orders from the USSR on long-term credit is already under way. There are signs that preliminary understandings have been reached with the British and Italians. Thc Soviets almost certainly hope that one important breakthrough in the Western front will cause the other advancedcountries lo fall into line.

harp increase in imports from the West, however, would not dealrincipal cause of Sovietheavy burden of military spending. We have estimated that thc Soviets will make every effort to hold down rising militaryhe announcedof the defense budget, though modest, symbolizes the direction Khrushchev proposes to follow, and some force reductions arcintended. Progress along this line of economies in the defense

Soviet Economic Problems and

of-

establishment, however, depends greatlyroper internationalKhrushchev's hopes to support his civilian investment program through Western credits and through savings from defense argue for some degree of restraint in his relations with the West

The Problem of China. As they survey their international position, the Soviets arc confrontedhird long-term problem. Thc vicious exploitation of the Cuban missile crisis by the Chinese deepened the Sino-Soviet dispute, and their subsequent attacks expanded to almost every facet of Soviet foreign and domestic policy. In counterattacking, the Soviets sought to use the test ban as an issue on which to Isolate China In world and even Communist opinion. This, however, proved Illusory: trade and other contacts between China and Western Europe have Increased in recent months, and Peiping's influence in theworld has. if anything, grown. The Soviets consideredan international Communist conference to condemn China, but abandoned the Idea, at least temporarily on teaming that several key parties had grave reservations about such action.

The Soviet leaders appear now lo have concluded that they will be lockedevere struggle with Chinarotracted period. They have evidently decided to pursue their own interests regardless ofChinese criticism, and despite the cost of further deterioration in Sino-Soviet relations and consequent fracturing of the international movement. The test ban treaty was an important manifestation that, on certain Issues, the Soviets view their Interests as paralleling those of the West rather than those of their Communist ally. Indeed, the Soviets are also prepared to use other issues as weapons against China, for example an agreement against dissemination of nuclear weapons and techniques, or an international pact for peaceful resolution ofdisputes.

policy is complicated, however, by the competitionin the underdeveloped areas. The Soviets cannot afford tointerested than China in militant struggle and musttheirevolutionary and anti Western contextsame time, the Soviets cannot afford to let this aspect of theirtheir relations with existing regimes. In some instances,of Chinese competition may cause the Soviets to act morevigorously than they might otherwise do. On some occasions,may also resort to sharper tactics to undercut the Chinese,doubt thut the Chinese factor alone would persuade the Sovietsgreater risks than otherwise seemed warranted. In general,attempt to compete with the Soviets in exploitingthe underdeveloped areas imposes some limits on Soviet effortsrelations with the Wesl.

astern Kurope. The weakening of Soviel authority in Eastern Europe, which has been apparent tor some time, has been greatlyby the Smo-Sovlet conflict. The Rumanians, for example, have successfully used the dispute as one lever in their own controversy with the Soviets. The trend is clearly for the East European regimes to look more to their own interests, although none has yet done this so forth-rightly as the Rumanians. The Soviets will encounter increasinglyproblems in Eastern Europe and the cohcslveness of the Soviet Bloc will suffer. Some regimes might balk at an increase in tensions which would damage their own economic dealings with the West. They might regard Cuba as moreurden than an asset, or regard the struggle in thc underdeveloped areasecondary issue Some, like the Poles and East Germans, show nervousness over Soviet attitudes on certain arms control measures. The Soviets have already found lt difficult to subordinate the Eastern European economies to the USSR, and the chances of organizing CEMAolid front against the Common Market have dwindled.

ne important consequence of these developing trends is their impact on East Germany's position in Eastern Europe If the other regimes proceed, however haltingly,iberalization ofreater degree of autonomy from Moscow, and un increase in Western contacts. East Germany will come under great pressures to follow suit. Failure lo keep in step with the other regimes risks Isolation and possibly similar pressures within the country as well. Moreover, in the Soviet view, if the East German regime could gain In acceptability and increase contact* and exchanges without serious internal troubles, it woulda much more suitable instrument of Soviet policy In Germany. At some point the Increase of normal coniacts might even make the East Oerman proposal for confederation seem more plausible However, the process of liberalization in East Germany is an extremely delicate one which could lead to serious instability, and the Soviets would not feel free lo push it very far or fast.

nternal Soviethrushchev's internal position is now probably stronger and his freedom uf action apparently greaterear ago. In the first monthst seemed that his authority had been checked, and lhat he felt il necessary'to modify some of his policies. His ability lo icconsoiidate his position was probably due in part to the illness of Frol Kozlov, who. in lelrospeet, seems to haveey figure in the Internal contention. Thef Chineseparticularly In raising the sensitive question uf borderwith the USSR, may have also helped Khrushchev At any rate, the question of how lo deal with some of the Issues under debatehas been sellled in Khrushchev's favor. The stale of Soviet agriculture, however,ontinuing liability, and problems affecting allocation of economic resources are still open. Nevertheless, we believe

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that on the whole Khrushchev's general position now seems strong enough so that internal politicking will not affect foreign policyajor way over the next year or so.

Developments in the West. Khrushchev may also believe that he has grounds for confidence because of thc signs of disunity in theAlliance. The Soviets probably believe the current frictions in the West, which are limited during periods of tension, will develop into more significant differences if the Sovietsore amiable countenance. The divisions between the US and France are widening. At the same time, Uie Sovietsew set of leaders in Europe and the US, and they are of course aware that further changes may be forthcoming after elections in the US and UK and next year in West Germany. Theparlies of Western Europe have moved toward the "popular front" tactic, and the Soviets arencouraged to believe that important changes in the atmosphere of European politics may take place that would further undermine the solidarity of the Western

The increasing strains in the Western Alliance comeime when the Soviets are already keenly awareenewal of pressure tactics offers little promise for immediate gains and perhaps higher risks in the aftermath of the Cuban crisis. The current more moderate approach therefore recommends itself on grounds both of prudence and of opportunity. Even if Khrushchev expects no early success by moving along this way, he probably believes that existing differences in the West can be greatly aggravated and perhapsew and rewarding opening created for the USSR Specifically, Khrushchev is likely to concentrate on the UK lo break the front on Western credits and to effectively oppose the MLF. The opening lo the left in Italy and thc prospectabor Governmeni In Britain may persuade Khrushchev that the MLF can be checked and perhaps even lhat some progress can be made toward Soviet Objectives in Germany. De Gaulle, however,reat question mark, since the Soviets are obviously pleased by the difficulties he causes in NATO but at the same time concerned that his nuclear capability should eventually become available toIn any case, Khrushchev looks forwarderiod tn which Soviet diplomacy can operate more effectively against the unity of the western Alliance.

he Underdeveloped Areas. The Soviets seem to have made some new assessments of their policies in these areas. In thes, the decline of Western influence in traditional areas of predominance such as thc Middle East and Africa encouraged thc Soviets to believe lhat they could not only rapidly replace the West but lay the groundwork for Communist control.. however, they had run into repeated troubles. They suffered setbacks and lost influence, and their earlier

7

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efforts showed only limited political gains Iteccnt events in Latin America. Asia, and Africa, however, have probably revived theirthat new opportunities are emerging. Moreover, it has always been their viewelaxation of Bast-West tensions was not intended to curb Soviet exploitation of such opportunities. Indeed, one of the arguments that Khrushchev has made for the policy of peacefulwas precisely that it would Increase the number of unstablewhich the Soviets could turn to their advantage.

II. GENERAL STRATEGY

The basic factors which led the Soviets toeduction in cold war tensions make it likely that this more moderate approach will continue for some time. Khrushchev probably considers this the most promising way to obtain economic concessions, to gain time toon internal problems, and to foster Westernerious deterioration in East-West relations would undercut internal policies, particularly any retrenchment in military spending, and wouldthe carefully buUt up case against the Chinese.

Accordingly. Soviet diplomacy will be activeroad range of issues which hold some promise of agreement with the West. Partly in order to sustain the present atmosphere, the Soviets will probably move for completion this spring of the bilateral negotiations with the US on cultural relations, on civil aviation, and on consular matters. They probably regard the period between now and the US elections, however,ifficult one In which to reach any important political agreements The Soviets have already evidenced some concern over the recent change in the US leadership, and their view of US politics is greatly influencedelief lhat proponents of accommodation are in constant conflict with advocates of bellicosity At the present time, theyubstantial propaganda and prestige investment In the proposition lhat new and favorable trends emerged under President Kennedy.

his more cautious approach applies mainly lo situations over which the Soviets have firm control. To some degree it also influences their responses to new situations not of their own making. But wc believe that the Soviets do not consider that the current mood ofwith the West is Incompatibleore forward and thrusting policy in the underdeveloped world. Ihey hope this mood may evenWestern responses. They have lately involved themselves inin Cyprus and East Africa while at thc same time soliciting credits in London. In the underdeveloped world generally the Soviets will continue to exploit trouble spots against Western Interests, and to build up Iheir own pecutions of Influence. Nevertheless, in exploiting such situations, we believe that lhe Soviets will seek to avoid direct confrontations wiih the Weslern powers.

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Cuba. Such contradictory tendencies In Soviet policy are notably apparent In Cuba. Over the past year the Soviets have worked to defuse thc Cuban situation by withdrawing Soviet troop contingents. They have also urged Castro to takeore conciliatory attitude and have paid for this by enlarging their economic support. They appearto take the risk of turning over the SAM system to Castro, in the expectation that it will noterious crisis with the US.much of their calculation has rested on Khrushchev's estimate of the late President's intentions and personal statements and the Soviets are probably now concerned that the US may bring new pressures on Castro's regime.

The hope of placing some inhibition on US actions against Castro gives the Soviets another strong reason for keeping down East-West tensions. We think that Khrushchev will make an effort to restrain Castro from direct clashes with the US. But the Soviets will be under Intermittent pressure from Castro toore active policy inand exploiting revolutionary situations in Latin America,In view of new tensions in the Caribbean. Castro isosition to embroil the Soviets with the US, and Khrushchev would find itembarrassing to abandonharp crisis, therefore, woulderious dilemma for Khrushchev. We believe that In this event the Soviets would feel obliged lo sacrifice improved relations with the US in order to provide support for Castro, although they would not go so far as to renew the kind of confrontation produced by2 missile crisis.

The Succession. Another key uncertainty surrounding futurepolicy stems from the succession to Khrushchev. Even In thesystem, the style, skill and conceptions of the top leadersajor role in thc determination of choices and in the effectiveness with which policies are prosecuted. The Soviet party appears to be little better equipped tolear successor than when Stalin died, and another power struggle is likely. We know little of the individual policy views of the potential successors, and it would not beto assume that they diverge from Khrushchev in some respects. It is possibleuccession struggle could begin to affect the conduct of policy even before Khrushchev's departure, should he become Inco-pacitated or his mental and physical powers deteriorate.'

he Longeronger term estimate Is more difficult and uncertain, not only because of the succession question but also because of the way the Soviet leaders are likely to view the factors conditioning their policies. There is some evidence that they regard the presentransitional period during which the struggle with the West is being

ore detailed discussion ot the succession question setMain Trends In Soviet Forelim2ECRET1

carried forward mainly by the internal strengthening of thc USSR. Khrushchev has repeatedly stressed over the past year that economic problems now take priority over political affairs, and most recentlyspokesmen have suggested that the USSR's present position istos when Lenin introduced his New Economic Policy. It is doubtful, therefore, that the Soviet leaders regard their setbacks as more than temporary. It would be quite characteristic of Khrushchev to be optimistic and assume that he can solve his problems relatively soon and then return to the political offensive. Even if the USSRlo be plagued by significant sources of economic weakness and an erosion of Its authority in the International Communist movement, Khrushchev is likely to rationalize these trends and only defer hisof regaining the momentum of the. Largelyof this attitude, the Soviet leaders probably will not feel under any pressure toajor accommodation with the West, with all the great concessions this would entail. We think that it is possible, however, lhat lhe present tactical phase will be stretched out beyond the period which Khrushchev probably envisages.

III. TACTICS IN THE NEAR TERM

Dliormdmenf.esult of the test ban. we think the chances for further limited agreements have improved. Economic pressures alonetrong incentive for Khrushchev to take further steps to stabilize the arms race. The revival of partial measures rather than emphasis on general disarmamentore realistic approach However, the program outlined by Khrushchev in the past monthson agreements of symbolic political significance without offering Important concessions on basic issues The Soviets probably do not see much chance for any very broad or significant agreements in the near term, not only because of the US elections but mainlymost of their own proposals still lead back to the Ocrmanor cut across NATO's military planning. Including prugrnms for nuclear sharing.

Rcgnrdless of thc progress made toward formalew approach has been gaining ground In Soviet pronouncements,by Khrushchev's statement onolicy of mutual example in the curtailment of the armsnder this formula, the Soviets apparenUy hope Uiat overt steps by one side wUl ease thc way forsteps by the other ThU approach has Uie obviousof maintaining control over Uie pace and scope of such steps and of avoiding formal commitments and verification procedures.thc Soviets can apply this approach to areas where the US would find It politically difficult or undesirable to take reciprocal measures, especially in Central Europe.

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Berlin and Germany. Any relaxation of tensions Implies, aboveoviet willingness to forego heavy pressures and threats to the Western position In Berlin. Currently, the Sovicls have in fact not only relaxed their pressures, but have taken new steps to bring their Berlin and Oerman policies into line with the broader effort lo rely more or. negotiations. Throughout lasl year the Soviets undertook various approachesolicy of experimentation and probing toew direction along which Soviet policy could work. The establish merit of contacts and negotiations between West Berlin and East Germany represents the first concrete result, and probablythe way the Soviets hope lo play thc Berlin question for the near term.

We do notajor crisis over Berlin this year. Instead. It ls likely that thc Soviets and East Germans will try to work foragreements, preferably by dealing directly with Bonn or the West Berlin authorities. They apparently now see some new opportunity to advance their alms of creating an independent political entity in West Berlin andeasure of acceptance for Ulbricht's regime. Even if noclflc agreements are forthcoming, the Soviets probably hope that with elections next year in West Germany, the Socialists and Christian Democrats can be encouraged to compete Inew and more flexible approach to Eastern policy. Soviet overtures to Lhe new Chancellor In Bonn are also to be expected.s also possible that thc Soviets might revive direct talks with the US; If so, they will probably further modify their proposalsonaggiession pact to provided some guarantees for West Berlin and its access.

espite the new flexibility in the Soviet approach and theof tensions surrounding the Berlin issue, there Ls as yet no evidence that the Soviets have made any fundamental changes ot position.il is doubtlul that the Soviet leaders would consider that their economic difficulties ar troubles with China require them to make the concessions which would be necessaryroad Ocrinan settlement. This does notemporary stabilization of the Berlin problem, though the SovieU need not enter into agreements to keep thequiet. As long as Ihere is no settlement, however. Incidents are inevitable, and the SovieU will not hesitate lo chip away at the allied position by trying to exact small concessions as lhe price for continued restraint. For Ihese reasons, it is unlikelyore serious search for an East-West settlement in Europe will develop

he Underdeveloped Areas. Soviet policy toward thecountries will continue to be markedigh degree ofThe SovieU probably count on an Increase In recentof tension and Instability In various parU of the world, developments which though often not of Communist [nuking arc almost

Invariably unfavorable to the Western powers They have already made It clear thai thc limited rapprochement with the West does not apply lo the underdeveloped areas. They will noi wish to forego opportunities there which the Chinese might seize upon. On the olher hand, they will try to avoid the more direct and obvious forms of Intervention in order not to compromise the general line of their policy toward the Western powers. They probablyong period of ferment which can be turned to Soviet advantageinimum of Involvement on their partow risk of direct clashes with the US.

A foreign aid program will continue toajor instrument of Soviet policy for the developing countries Economic assistance,has been reduced from lhe previous high levels of the late IMO's and stricter criteria have been appbed ln the choice of recipients. The limited political gains derived from this program and lhe psychological atmosphere created by economic difficulties at home probably contributeeluctance to undertake major new commitments In unprovenMilitary aid, however, which sometimes promises quickerwill conUnue to loom large in Soviet calculations, and we expect the circle of clients to expand.

Efforts at subversion continue, as evidenced by recent revelations of Soviet involvement in the Congo and Communist activity in East Africa. The Soviets almost certainly icallie Uiat Ln many of thestates the fabric of authority Is extremely thin, sometimes offering opportunities for even small Communist groups without mass backing to achieve power by sudden coups. In most cases, however, lhe Soviets will continue to see their objectives as better served bynon-Communist nationalist leaders Thus, despite Uie pressures of Chinese compeUUon, we do noteneral shiftilitantpolicy loward the underdeveloped world.

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