The Soviet Union is sounding fresh alarm bells over the situation in Poland, as the extraordinary Communist Party congress there approaches. But the Kremlin still seems to hope the Poles can sort out their crisis for themselves.
The optinum Soviet scenario for Poland, as a senior Soviet source summed it up privately, is that "Poles will get out of their difficulties with as small losses [to socialism] as possible."
This and other Soviet sources continue to stress the desirability of a "political" resolution to the Polish crisis, adding that in Moscow's view Western statements have only made a difficult situation worse.
With the approach of the Poles' July party congress, reports from Warsaw say there has been reformist pressure both from outside the Polish party and from within it.
Clearly with this in mind, the official Soviet news media have been firing off a series of toughly worded commentaries in recent days -- painting a portrait of a reformist assault on the very foundations of the socialist system, and of authorities thrown on the defensive.
Although still sharply critical of Poland's Solidarity labor union movement and its supporters, the Soviets seem increasingly to be focusing their concern on developments within Poland's battered Communist Party.
In the latest major Soviet commentary on the Polish crisis, the newspaper Pravda stated May 21 that the Polish party's "leadership ranks must not be decimated."
In an article three days earlier the Soviet government daily Izvestia had voiced strong concern over the erosion of Polish government power.
"solidarity, as a rule, makes demands and the local authorities are usually on the defensive," the newspaper said.
"Slowly people [in Poland] get the idea that such a thing is normal, that there is, on the one hand, a 'fighting' labor union which wants something 'better' [for the people], and then the authorities, who either will not or cannot provide it."
The series of recent Soviet statements on the situation in Poland is seen by diplomats here as a fresh attempt by Moscow to stem the reformist tide in that Soviet-bloc state, and particularly to curb the chipping away of Polish government and party power.
Soviet officials, whether publicly or privately, have avoided going into specific Kremlin policy options in the Polish crisis. But they leave no doubt as to the depth of Soviet concern over developments in Poland.
Diplomats here stress that Soviet policy on the crisis depends in large part on how the fluid Polish situation develops. They also emphasize that Soviet leaders, in public statements, have left all options open and have periodically delivered what are seen as reaffirmations of the so-called Brezhnev doctrine -- that a threat to "socialism" in any East-bloc state is a threat to the alliance as a whole, Moscow most definitely included.