Poland has been jolted by an ominous comment from the Soviet Union just when it thought it had gained some breathing space from Moscow. Until now Poland has tended to shrug off Western warnings of an East-bloc military buildup. But a Dec. 8 commentary by the soviet news agency Tass has caused evident dismay in official circles here because it charged that "counterrevolutionaries" were gaining the upper hand in Poland's new independent unions.
The commentary also prompted a bitter reaction from officials of Solidarity, the largest independent union, who have been trying to tone down members' reformist pitch in recent days.
Western diplomats point out that the latest allegations from Moscow have all the appearance of the kind of political preparation that might be expected to precede or accompany military action.
"It is necessary not to read too much into thi kind of thing," one diplomat remarks. "but if you are going to do something on the military side, you have got to explain why you are doing it."
In the past few days Poles have been drawing comfort from the reported outcome of last week's Warsaw Pact meeting. They have been encouraged, for instance, by the low profile maintained by their leaders despite outside speculation of possible military intervention. And they have been skeptical of Western government and press reports of military activity in neighboring countries.
But the terse Soviet commentary has reawakened worries here that the country might not be in the clear after all. The Tass statement alleged that:
* Some Solidarity branches and "counter-revolutionary" groups operating under the cover of Solicarity have been moving toward a confrontation with Communist Party organizations.
* Some activists who disagree with such developments have "disappeared." (It did not explain what "disappeared" meant.)
The Moscow broadcast returned to former Soviet charges about Solidarity's aid from Western unions, including the West German and the "reactionary" American AFL-CIO, alleging that Solidarity leader Lech Walesa had received $10 million from these sources.
It repeated its charges that some of the unions have been infiltrated with "links" to antisocialist centers in the West, commenting: "Such unions have nothing in common with the vital interests of the Polish workers."
There were also further attacks on Western radio stations and news media through which "antisocialist elements are being instigated to excerbate the situation and prolong the crisis which is exhausting Poland."
Though reacting angrily to the charges, Solidarity officials decided against any instant response. But they did deny another Tass allegation that Solidarity workers at a factory in the south Polish town of Kielce had disarmed the factory guards.
Solidarity officials point out that a number of factories have come out in support of the resolutions adopted by the Polish Central Committee last week. And these statements of support have been signed by both Communist Party and Solidarity committees in the plants.
The way the Poles see last Friday's Warsaw Pact meeting in Moscow was reflected in an editorial in Monday's Zycie Warszawy, the leading daily newspaper here.
"The destiny of Poland should be settled in dialogue and debate, both in its internal and international aspects. Without order in Poland peace is hard to imagine." Staff correspondent David K. Willis reports from Moscow:
The Kremlin is keeping strong pressure on Polish Communist PArty and Solidarity union officials to solve their crisis. Part of that pressure has been to move Soviet troops into position for a quick invasion. Another part is verbal warnings, which have been escalated.
But the final order to invade has not yet been given, and even Kremlin leaders themselves may not yet know whether they will give it.
That seemed to be the situation following the latest toughly worded Tass news agency report here on Polish "counterrevolutionary" groups.
Western diplomatic sources here seemed worried by the tone of the report, by its heightened rhetoric, by its suggestion that basic Communist Party rule was being threatened, and by the way it failed to cite the Polish press as the source of the report.