SOVIET TACTICS IN THE BERLIN CRISIS

Created: 8/24/1961

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SOVIET TACTICS IN THE BERLIN CRISIS

THE PROBLEM

To estimate Soviet tactics in the Berlin crisis over the next lew months, with particular reference to the effect on these tactics of possible developments within East Germany.

THE ESTIMATE

the action ofugust, thehaveong step toward their objectives ln Berlin and haveew political situation there. The border controls instituted on that date have met Eastmost pressing need by reducing the refugee flow to tolerable proportions. At the same time, the division of Berlin into two separate cities has been made virtuallywith the eastern portion all butinto the GDR. Thus the Soviets, induced by the rising tide of refugees, have taken unilateral action to achieve results which they had intended to accomplishater date, and by different means.

The refugee question, however, was only one aspect of the larger problem of stabilizing the GDR, and the closing of the Berlin escape route may worsen other aspects If .It leadsurther buildup of tensions within EastEven apart from this, the stemming of the refugee flow will not change the USSR's view of the necessity to bolster the GDR's claims to sovereigntyeace treaty and eventually to eject Western influence from Berlin altogether. We do not believe that the USSR has given up its intention to presseace treatyfreehe question is whether the Soviet leaders will accelerate their movement towards these objectives, or will moderate their pace after theirachievements ofugust.

The action in Berlin has initiated awhich the Soviets may wish toA wide variety of further unilateral measures is available to them. Theof military liaison missions wouldelatively low-keyed act which might appear to the Sovietseans of keeping events moving in theirnother option would be to deny Allied rights to enter East Berlin, thereby carrying to its conclusion the destruction of the four-power status of that part of the city. More drastically, the East Germans might disrupt or harass civil traffic between West Berlin and the Federalmost dangerous of all, interference with Allied access might begin. Politically, the USSR might choose to accelerate the timingeace conferenceeparate treaty with the GDR.

Another factor which could importantly affect the USSR's timing and tactics is the increasing involvement of Soviet prestige. Khrushchev in recent weeks has reacted to the stiffening US attitude by increasing his commitment to early action. He now asserts that the issue transcends the problems of Germany and Berlin, important as these re-

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and that the West's refusal toeace treaty represents an attempt tostrategic breakthrough" against the Bloc. Inhallenge to Soviet power and prestige, he wishes to convey to his opponents that the Soviet Union cannot be expected to draw back from crisis situations in whichand prudence would appear to dictateHe might decide to take new steps on Berlin which would strengthen the image of Inflexible resolve.

In our recent estimates of the USSR's policy toward Germany and Berlin, we have regularly attributed to the Sovietonfidence that they can move gradually toward their eventual objectives without incurringrisks. We_havc pointed to theirthat the West could probably "be induced to make negotiated concessions. And we have iurther estnriate3 that, if these Soviet expectations are not borne out, the USSR.will moveut_sUU-Intending- toinay as to avoid at any stage unduly high risks of war.1

We believe that Soviet actions in thephase of the Berlin crisis do notthat the USSR has departed from this general approach and method. Thus wethat the Soviets' present intention probably is not to take further drasticimmediately, though they may undertake measures of limited scope. For example, they will probably further restrict German civil and Allied access to East Berlin, and they may embarkrogram of gradual harass-mcnta of German civil traffic to West Berlin. But rather thanajor challenge to West Berlin Itself and the Allied position there, we believe that their present preference is to let the effects of the border closure sink in and see whether the Western Powers have become more inclined to accept Soviet terms of negotiations.

the absence of fairly definitethe West, we think lt unlikely thatwill take the initiative ina date and other specifics fornegotiations. He clearly wishes toas the champion of negotiations, andthrow out hints, in an effort toa Western proposal, that the USSRpersuaded to reduce its demands If awere arranged. If presentedWestern Invitation, he would respondbut would undoubtedly attempt totask of the conferenceashionSoviet interests. If thetrain toward the end of the year,probably postpone his deadline forIf negotiations do not materialize,that the next Soviet step will beInvitations to their own peaceprobably accompaniedeviseda treaty applicable to both Germanproviding for the declaration of astatus for West Berlin. We thinkcircumstances that the chances arebetter than even that thenot be signed before the Partyconvenes onctober.

Effect of Developments in EosI Germany

Soviet tactics will be affectedarge number of factors. Including the posture adopted by the West, the movement ofin the important uncommitted countries, and domestic developments in East Germany. We have recently examined the possibility that serious unrest might arise in East Germany and have concluded that, under mosta major eruption isere we consider how popular disturbances or an uprising might affect Soviet tactics.

The Soviet leaders evidently are confident of their capability for keeping discontent in check and repressing any outbreaks which might occur. If they came to feel that' the chanceseneral rising were becoming

, "Stability of East Germanycrlinated ISECRET.

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their main domestic efforts would probably be In the direction of menace and Intimidation. They would alert and deploy their own forces in East Germany, as well as those of the GDR, and the public would be warned of the regime's determination towith speed and vigor to hostileAdditionally, they would probably make available additional supplies ofgoods in order to relieve economic shortages.

Popular dissatisfaction with Internaland economic conditions would be the basic cause of mass unrest. However, the Communist efforts to consolidate the GDReparate German state by Isolating It from further contact with the West, combined with the International tension generated by Communist pressures against West Berlin, are adding to popular unrest. Thus, thereelationship between the degree of unrest In East Germany and Moscow's pursuit of Its policies aimed at neutralizing West Berlin and fixing the division of Germany, particularly since theugust action has deprived the East German regimeafety vnlve.

Even so. wc sec little chance that the USSR. If it believed that an East Germanwas likely, would respond by altering its principal aims or policies with respect toWhile it is possible that the Soviets might temporarily modify their tactics ortheir timing to reduce the likelihooderious German uprising, we think itthatoviet response would be either very significant or lasting. Moreover, we believe that it would be next to impossible to convince the USSR, the GDR, or the East German people that the West Intended or had the capability to support widespread anti-regime activities.

e believe that the Communists will act speedily and firmly In meeting evidences of public disorder. If these actually develop. Ln East Germany in the months ahead. If an uprising should occur, they would regard themselves as having no other choice than to put It down, despite the cost to their position and the danger of Western Involvement. In the wake ofepression, the Soviets might accelerate their moves toward apeace treaty, believing that it waslo spend further time ln cultivating world opinion or waiting for East-West talks, and that an early treaty would start theof rebuUding East German sovereignty and authority.

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