The Heritage Foundation

Backgrounder #651 on Russia

May 20, 1988

May 20, 1988 | Backgrounder on Russia

Checklist for the Moscow Summit Briefing


(Archived document, may contain errors)

65 1 May 20,1988 CHECKLIST FOR THE MOSCOW SUMMIT,BRIEFING From May 29 to June 2,1988, Ronald Reagan will be in Moscow for his fourth meeting with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev The first me eting, in Geneva in 1985 restored United States-Soviet summit dialogue after a six-year hiatus caused by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the terminal illness of three Soviet leaders. Reagan and Gorbachev met again in Reykjavik in 19

86. That meeting broke down over Soviet insistence that the U.S. abandon its Strategic Defense Initiative. The third summit at whichathe Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed, was held in Washington last December.

With this fourth Reagan-Gorbachev su mmit, Reagan will have met the Soviet leader more times than any American President has met any other Soviet leader. In an important sense, therefore, this summit is almost routine. Dramatic agreements should not be expected, nor are they desirable. In ke e ping with this the Moscow summit should be deliberately low-key. Reagan should downplay arms control issues, except to insist on full Soviet compliance with the INF Treaty and to insist that any strategic arms agreement must include provisions for strateg i c defense deployment Items of U.S. Concern. Reagan should emphasize agenda items reflecting U.S. concern over Soviet expansionism abroad and human rights abuses at home. He forcefully should express U.S. opposition to Soviet support for wars that anti-dem o cratic and anti-Western regimes wage against their own peoples. He should tell Gorbachev that the U.S. expects Moscow to end all involvement in Afghanistan; stop its military aid to Nicaragua and pull Soviet-bloc advisors out of that country; support inte r nationally supervised elections in Mozambique and Angola, along with a withdrawal of Soviet and Cuban troops from the latter country; refrain from encouraging the Philippine communist rebels; and end genocide being committed in Ethiopia by the Soviet clie nt regime of the dictator Mengistu Haile Maria.

Regarding human rights in the Soviet Union, Reagan should make it clear that the modest and easily reversible improvements made by Gorbachev thus far are not enough.

Such fundamental changes as freedom of po litical association, legalization of unofficial media, formation of independent trade unions, genuine and comprehensive freedom for believers, and unhindered travel and emigration are needed before the West will believe that the Soviet society has changed Seizing the Public Diplomacy Initiative Reagan also should advise Gorbachev that any long-term improvement in U.S.-Soviet economic ties hinges on Moscows addressing U.S. concerns about Soviet international behavior and the way it treats its own citizens. T he U.S. would view positively a Soviet decision to allow thousands of its studentst0 study in the U.S. as the Chinese comunists have done. Currently there are only a few scores of Soviet students in this country compared to nearly 20,000 from mainland Chi na.

At this summit, the U.S. must seize the public diplomacy initiative by securing maximum Presidential exposure to the Soviet people, by organizing impactful media events, providing unhindered access to the American Embassy by Soviet guests, and by condu cting extensive briefing of the media A CHECKLIST OF U.S. OBJECTrVES Reagan should use the summit for structuring U.S.-Soviet relations in ways conducive to the avowed goals of Gorbachevs reform: a measure of official tolerance for diversity, for politica l relaxation and economic decentralization. Reagan should make it clear that the U.S. will not bail out the Soviet economy, which would allow the Kremlin to avoid the painful choice between genuine political and economic reform and continuing stagnation. I f the U.S. delegation is well-briefed, realistic, and prepared for tough bargaining, the Moscow summit can be a small step toward a more stable, freer, and more prosperous world.

The U.S therefore, should prepare a strategy for the following important area s Public Diplomacy Send to Moscow a large public diplomacy advance team. To convey the U.S position to both Western and Soviet audiences, the U.S. should start extensive briefings in Moscow of the media long before the summit. This is what the Soviets did so effectively before Washingtons December summit Seek presidential access to Soviet television. Moscow should be pressed to allow Reagan the same access to television viewers that Gorbachev enjoyed during his visit to Washington. The U.S. should insist o n the same wide-ranging format that Gorbachev had in the NBC pre-summit interview. The presidential message to the Soviet people should be an 2 unhurried exposition of the American way of life including: unhindered foreign travel abundance of food and hous i ng; absence of domestic passports and residence restrictions freedom to criticize the government; freedom of the press; policy-making powers of Congress; freedom to read whatever one likes; access to photocopying equipment; and the standard of living of w o rking men and women Get rid of doublespeak. Statements by the members of the American delegation and official documents of the summit should be void of doublespeak, which spawns moral equivalence. For example, the U.S. should not use or agree to the use o f the phrase ''human rights problems Instead, the U.S. should speak of systematic violations by the Soviet Union of the human rights of its citizens in contravention of numerous agreements the Soviet Union signed, including the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. Sim i larly, there are no regional conflicts in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Angola there, are Soviet-armed and maintained aggressions against the people of these countries by self-proclaimed rulers Make the U.S. Embassy a non-stop media center. In add i tion to briefing of American media, the United States Information Agency officers speaking French, German and Italian should be on hand all the time to talk to West European journalists in their own languages Invite Soviet citizens to the U.S. Embassy. As the Soviets did in Washington during the last summit, the U.S. should use the summit to communicate its positions to official and unofficial Soviet opinion-makers: human rights activists, journalists, economists, creative intelligentsia Seeksummit accredi t ation for unofficial Soviet publications. There are at least 30 unofficial periodicals in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev's proclaimed glasnost policy should be tested by pressing the Soviets to accredit at least the three most prominent publications Glasnost , Referendum, and Ekspress Khronika Create "media events" for Reagan. Such events might include Reagan's meetings with the human rights champion Academician Andrei Sakharov, editors of leading unofficial publications Sergei Grigoryants, Lev Timofeev, Aleks a ndr Podrabinek, the dissident priest Father Gleb Yakunin, the representatives of "illegal" and repressed Ukrainian Catholic Church, Jewish "refuseniks" and Soviet spouses of Americans who are not allowed to emigrate Eastern Europe Denounce the Soviet domi n ation of Centramastern Europe. The U.S. continues to consider the region's status quo as an unacceptable violation of international law in general and the 1945 Yalta Accords in particular. Soviet denial of the right to national self-determination to the p e oples of Centramastern Europe is among the greatest obstacles to genuine and lasting reduction of tension between East and West 3 Warn Moscow against intervention. Whether it contemplates a direct intervention through invasion (as in Hungary in 1956 and i n Czechoslovakia in 1968) or indirect intervention by intimidation, military coups and imposition of martial law by Soviet quislings (as in Poland in 1981 the Kremlin must be told that the Western response would be severe and could include an immediate and total cessation of lending to the Soviet Union by West European and American banks and governments, a recall of Western ambassadors from the Soviet Union, an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council abrogation of economic and cultural agreements wit h the Soviet Union, and an appropriate degree of military alert of the NATO forces Urge dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Reagan again should note publicly that the Berlin Wall is repugnant to free people everywhere. Its destruction must be among the first c o nfidence-building measures envisioned by Gorbachev's "new political thinking Human Rights I Press the Soviet Union to release all political prisoners. Currently, there are 386 political prisoners in the Soviet Union counting only those whose names are kno wn in the West. The estimated total amount is somewhere between 2,000 and 10,0

00. Until all political prisoners are released, gZmnost will remain an empty word Press the Soviet Union to legalize unofficial publications. A true test ofgZmnost is the abilit y of the Soviet people to produce and disseminate uncensored publications freely.

The Soviet authorities consistently have refused to legalize independent periodicals and denied their requests for office space, supplies, and means of dissemination. The ed itors of such publications are harassed and detained by police, and their materials are confiscated.

As recently as this May 9, the editor of the leading independent magazine Glasnost, Sergei Grigoryants, was arrested and sentenced to a week in jaiL Press the Soviet Union for genuine political pluralism. For glasnost to be taken seriously by the West, th e Soviet authorities must allow independent political associations.

Yet an attempt early this month to create the Soviet Union's first opposition party, the Democratic Union, prompted a police crackdown, in which three organizers were arrested and fourteen others were detained overnight and expelled from Moscow Press for freedom of worship. Despite recent overtures to the officially approved Russian Orthodox Church, there has been very little improvement in the situation of independent religious groups tha t reject any government interference in their affairs. The decades-old policy of repression and harassment continues unabated: smear campaigns in the press, searches, confiscations of religious books, large fines for attending prayer meetings. The harshest repressions are meted out against the Ukrainian Catholic Church the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christian Baptists, the Pentecostals and Jehovah's Witness. At the moment, Soviet jails hold around 200 religious political prisoners, whose names are k n own in the West 4 Insist on legal guarantees for glasnost. Any Gorbachev reforms can be rolled back any time because they are not supported by changes in the Soviet legal system. Initial steps should include granting a measure of independence to judges, t r ial by jury, and elimination of Article 70 of the Russian Republic's Criminal Code, which mandates 7 years of jail and 5 years of exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda Press for freedom of emigration. Last year 8,155 Jews were allowed to emigrat e from the Soviet Union; this year the number could reach 12,0

00. While this represents progress compared with 914 exit visas in 1986, it is far short of 51,000 visas issued in 19

79. Soviet emigration policy continues to violate human rights. The 1987 e migration code excludes nearly 90 percent of Soviet Jews from even applying for emigration. To those who do qualify, Soviet authorities continue to arbitrarily apply the state secrets restrictions Jews in college admission and employment opportunities con t inues unabated lRefusenikstl demonstration are brutally broken up by the KGB operatives and their participants are beaten and detained. State publishing houses continue to churn out anti-Semitic tracts under a thin guise of the "struggle against Zionism I n sist on immediate elimination of official anti-Semitism. Discrimination against Soviet International Expansion Demand cessation of Soviet weapon shipments to Nicaragua. Since 1980, the Soviet Union has given the Sandinistas $2.4 billion in military aid, e n abling Nicaragua to build the largest army in Central America and to become a constant threat to its neighbors Demand removal from Nicaragua of all Soviet-bloc advisors and termination of Soviet-bloc training of the Nicaraguan military. The presence of ne a rly 3,000 Soviet bloc advisors in Nicaragua is a threat to the U.S. and its allies in the region. There can be no lasting relaxation in the U.S.-Soviet relations until all these advisors depart. Estimated several hundreds of Nicaraguans are receiving mili tary and counter-insurgency training in the Soviet-bloc countries, which includes piloting of advanced MIG fighter planes Warn Gorbachev not to send advanced fighter warplanes to the Sandinistas.

Gorbachev must be told that the U.S. will not tolerate advan ced fighter planes in Nicaragua. If such planes are supplied, the U.S. will consider action to remove them On Afghanistan, warn Moscow to comply fully with the Geneva Accords and bilateral understanding. Reagan should put Gorbachev on notice that failure t o comply with the letter and spirit of the agreements on Afghanistan will damage U.S.-Soviet relations. Compliance is particularly important regarding termination of Soviet military aid to the Kabul regime on May 15; withdrawal of half of the Soviet troop s by August 15,1988 withdrawal of all Soviet troops by February 15,19

89. Failure to carry out these agreements as well as attempts of de facto annexation of Northern Afghanistan by the Soviet Union or retention by the Kabul regime, of Soviet "advisors" wi ll be considered violations of the Geneva accords to which the U.S. will respond by appropriate diplomatic, economic, and military measures 5 Reaffirm U.S. commitment to the Afghan Freedom Fighters. If the Soviets continue arms shipments to the Kabul regi me the U.S.'will immediately resume arms shipments to the mujahidken Demand immediate termination of the Soviet terror campaign against Pakistan.

The terror campaign perpetrated by the KGB-controlled Afghan intelligence agency, the KHAD has resulted in dea ths of close to 1,000 Pakistani civilians. Terrorist acts intensified this year, culminating in the April 10 explosion at an arms depot in Islamabad that killed 98 and wounded over 1,000 people Press for a constructive Soviet role in Ethiopia. Since 1977, Moscow has given the Mengistu regime $3.5 billion in arms. If Gorbachev is serious about "new'political thinking he should join the U.S. in giving Ethiopia food rather than arms. And, as Ethiopia's largest arms supplier, the Soviet Union must exercise its influence in forcing Mengistu to allow food relief to reach the starving Press the Soviet Union for a negotiated settlement in Angola. Though the Soviet Union has given $5 billion worth of arms to the Communist regime in Angola, after 13 years of fighting the anti-Communist guerrillas with the help of 45,000 Cuban troops, the regime continues to control less than two-thirds of the Angolan countryside. The Soviet Union should press the Luanda regime to negotiate a political settlement, which would include w i thdrawal of the Cuban troops and internationally supervised free elections Press the Soviet Union to end Vietnam's occupation of Cambodia. Moscow's annual 2 billion worth of military and economic assistance allows Hanoi to maintain the world's fourth larg e st army and to occupy Cambodia. The Soviet Union must pressure Vietnam to negotiate a withdrawal with a coalition of Cambodian liberation forces Warn the Soviet Union not to promote instability in the Philippines. There is substantial evidence pointing to Soviet support for the Philippines' communist New People's Army. The U.S. should make it clear to Moscow that sponsorship of the anti-democratic communist insurgents will be countered by even stronger U.S. military assistance to Manila Urge the Soviet Uni o n to help maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.'As the Seoul Olympics approach, Communist North Korea has intensified attempts to disrupt the events by terrorist acts. As one of the North Korea's main arms suppliers, the Soviet Union should help pre v ent North Korea from doing this Press the Soviet Union to support an arms embargo against Iran. While the Soviet Union loudly proclaims its commitment to a "peaceful settlement of the Iran-Iraq conflict it continues to supply arms to Iran. The Soviet Unio n should demonstrate its "new political thinking" in action and join other nations in their arms embargo against Iran 6 Arms Control Do not rush to a partial Vladivostok-type "agreement in principle The U.S. should not agree to the kind of partial "agreeme nt in principle" that was arranged in 1974 in Vladivostok between the late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and President Gerald Ford.

The U.S. should not rush into any agreement until all the details have been first worked out by professional negotiators in Geneva. In Vladivostok, the U.S. hastily accepted terms which undermined U.S. strategic deterrence Press for explicit agreement on strategic defense deployment. At the last summit Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to disagree on the questions of testing and dep l oying systems developed by the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI At this Moscow summit, the U.S. should press the Soviets to agree to a negotiated timetable for strategicdefense deployments in phases over fifteen years. SDI must not be sacrificed for the S trategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START any U.S. agreement to continue adherence to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as written in 1972 for a specified period of time should entail explicit Soviet agreement to a negotiated deployment timetable Remove sea-l a unched cruise missiles from the bargaining table. Sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) armed with conventional and nuclear warheads are needed to defend U.S. warships. An agreement limiting SLCMs, as sought by Moscow, is less nuclear arms control than con v entional arms control, since most of the U.S. Navy's 4,000 cruise missiles will be zirmed with conventional warheads. Furthermore, verifying an agreement limiting such weapons would be impossible. The U.S. should press the Soviets to drop their demands fo r limiting SLCMs Urge the Soviets to accept short-notice, no-refusal on-site inspections. Verification procedures, including on-site inspections, for a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START will have to be more rigorous than those employed by the Intermed i ate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. START will affect the core of the U.S. deterrent force. Verifying Soviet compliance with the Treaty will be critical. Therefore, the U.S. should urge the Soviets to accept short-notice, no-refusal on-site inspections for all sites suspected of involving long-range nuclear weapons Economic, Cultural, and Scientific Cooperation Reaffirm commitment to the Jackson-Vanik and Stevenson Amendments. As a symbol of American commitment to human rights and as a useful tool for i n fluencing Soviet policies, these Amendments, which link granting the Soviet Union the Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff status with the Soviet emigration policy, continue to enjoy broad bi-partisan American support. Until the Soviet Union significantly imp roves its emigration record, the U.S. will allow no erosion of this linkage Reaffirm linkage between the Soviet behavior and the economic cooperation.

Gorbachev should be told that any increased economic cooperation between the U.S. and 7 the Soviet Union depends on and will be proportionate to changes in Soviet international and domestic.behavior which is carefully monitored by the U.S Eliminate asymmetries in access to periodicals. Any American can subscribe to any Soviet publication and only a handful o f high Soviet officials can subscribe to American periodicals. The Lenin library in Moscow keeps American newspapers in the spetswrm special holding to be released only to officially cleared individuals for a specifically approved state project. The Soviet authorities interfere even with the distribution of the only officially allowed American periodical, the monthly America lZZmtrated Every month the Soviet authorities return to the American Embassy 8,000 to 9,000 copies as unsold."

This is curious sinceAm erica Illustrated is one of the most sought after items in the Soviet Union, sold on the black market many times its nominal price Eliminate asymmetries in access to books. While Americans can mail order or borrow through interlibrary loan virtually any S o viet book, the Soviet citizens have access only to officially sanctioned translations of American books Eliminate asymmetries in access to mass media. While American media compete for Soviet propagandists to appear on TV or in the op-ed sections of newspa p ers, even the American Ambassador to the Soviet Union has to "exercise caution" in his Fourth of July address to the Soviet people so as not to have it cancelled by the Soviet authorities. The American side must have the same access to Soviet media that S oviets have to American television and periodicals Eliminate asymmetries in people-to-people exchanges. While 100,000 Americans visited the Soviet Union last year, only 10,000 Soviet citizens came to the United States.

The number of Soviet participants in such exchanges must increase, while Soviet government interference in the exchanges must decrease Eliminate asymmetries in people's access to resident journalists. While Americans can contact resident Soviet journalists in the U.S. without any impediment o r fear of reprisal, the Soviet authorities attempt to block most contacts between Soviet citizens and American journalists. American journalists in Moscow are forced to live in compounds surrounded by concrete walls and barbed wire, with sentries blocking the entrance around the clock. If Soviet citizens not authorized to speak to American journalists do so, they are often followed, harassed and invited to the KGB for "chats Demand the end of jamming of Radio Liberty. The jamming of this American radio sta t ion violates of the right to "impart and receive information" guaranteed by the number of international agreements signed by the Soviet Union, including the Helsinki Accords Demand immediate cessation of the anti-American propaganda and disinformation in t he Soviet press. GZusnost stops at the water's edge. Soviet coverage of the West, and particularly of the United States, remains as distorted as it was during the rule of Leonid 8 Brezhnev. In just one dozen instances, commenting recently on the 20th anni versary of the U.S. Civil Rights Act pravda (April 9,1988) characterized the Act's essence as "a legal foundation for the use of armed force against any hint of challenge to the existing order."

The same article informed its readers that during the 1968 ri ots "hundreds of people were executed by firing squad ra~streZlmy Eliminate asymmetries in scholarly exchanges. The topical character of scholarly exchanges between the Soviet Union and the U.S. is heavily imbalanced: the overwhelming majority of the Sovi e ts coming to U.S. specialize in natural sciences and computers, while most American exchange scholars are social scientists. This allows the Soviet Union's effort to bolster defense-related technologies and fundamental research. Furthermore, while Soviet scholars enjoy freedom of access to literature and colleagues, movement of American exchange scholars in the USSR is fully controlled by the state security organs.

Finally, all Soviet exchange scholars are employed by the government and most, in one way or another, help intelligence gathering. The U.S. should not conclude any new scholarly exchange agreements in this area until the existing imbalances have been corrected Do not agree to another Soviet consulate in the United States. The Soviet Union is pre s sing for an opening of consulate in New York, offering an American consulate in Kiev in exchange. This is a bad bargain: a Soviet consulate in the United States' largest city will only add to the huge Soviet spying contingent there, consisting of Soviet a nd Soviet-bloc employees of the United Nations.

Leon Aron, Ph.D Salvatori Fellow in Soviet Studies 9

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