Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

A quiet Kremlin keeps wary eye on events in Poland

The Soviet Union is keeping a close, coldly analytical eye on events in Poland but has formed no final assessment of the ongoing political tension there , senior officials suggest privately.

The officials would not be drawn out on specific Soviet policy options. And they see Western statements on Poland as aggravating the crisis for all concerned.

About these ads

The private assessment of a sort rarely available to Western reporters here came April 14 against a background of renewed criticism of Polish "antisocialists" by the official Soviet news media.

Diplomats and other foreign analysts increasingly suggest that, although the Soviets seem to be leaving options open, there remains no clear indication of how, when, or whether Moscow might ultimately act on the Polish crisis.

The private Soviet assessment to this reporter stressed that, the political crisis aside, Poland represented an enormous economic problem to the USSR and its East-bloc allies.

"It is necessary to take into account the question of economic aid, of supporting 35 million Polish people," it was noted.

The overall situation in Poland was described as "very difficult . . . but not hopeless."

Certain of the difficulties, it was said, were inside the ruling Polish Communist Party, itself. Remedying them would require "not only words, but concrete actions."

"Some party members, quite a lot, are in sympathy with [the Polish free trade union] Solidarity."

About these ads

"But," it was added, "one can't say at this point whether that is necessarily bad or good, or whatever," especially in view of what was termed "a process of discussion" going on both within the party and within Solidarity.

The private comments seemed to suggest that the immediate aim of renewed Soviet news media pressure was to try to influence the outcome of such a process and ultimately to stabilize Poland along lines Moscow could accept.

Soviet officials said they discerned a growing awareness inside Poland that trade union activity was aggravating an already deep economic crisis, and that it was against this background that the Polish Communist leadership was acting.

Foreign diplomats here argue that a key to Soviet policy on the Polish crisis in coming days and weeks will be precisely how the Polish leadership functions, particularly with the approach of avowedly free elections preceding an extraordinary Polish Communist Party congress.

The Soviet officials did not directly touch on that issue.

They did argue that a lessening of tension in Poland would be in everyone's interest, and that Western officials served precisely the opposite aim in various public statements on the Polish crisis.

"We have an objective, detached understanding and analysis of the events in Poland," one official said, and are "aware of the reasons and sources behi nd the process."

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.