Despite their persistent criticism of United States intransigence over arms control, the Soviets appear to be counting on a Reagan-Gorbachev summit this year. In a press conference here yesterday, Vladimir Petrovsky, a deputy foreign minister, said that preparatory work for a meeting between US Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze was in a ``practical phase.''
He declined to give details of the preparations for the meeting. In Washington, the White House said it was ready for such a meeting, but was awaiting word from the Kremlin on a date.
Despite the tentative moves toward a summit, Soviet political observers -- writers and analysts who say they speak only for themselves, but who often reflect policy debates within the Soviet establishment -- profess a gloomy view of US-Soviet relations.
President Reagan, says Rodomir Bogdanov, deputy director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies, is a ``senior citizen with very clear-cut ideas which cannot be changed very easily.'' Day-to-day policy in Washington is in the hands of ``dynamic anti-Soviet people,'' Mr. Bogdanov said in an interview with the Monitor. The President ``is OK with that,'' he added. Bogdanov's institute provides the Soviet leadership with analysis on foreign and domestic US policy.
The President and his advisers are looking beyond Reagan's second term, Bogdanov claims. They want, he says, ``to keep the Reagan revolution running even after 1988.''
One of the major elements of this revolution, he says, is a hard-line anti-Soviet attitude.
``I deeply believe that what they're doing to arms control now is a model for future administrations,'' said Bogdanov, referring to the lack of progress over arms control.
The US, Bogdanov said, is aiming for overall military superiority. ``This is a very pessimistic conclusion.''
US hard-liners want to push the Soviet Union into a new arms race, Bogdanov says, on the assumption that this would put more strain on the Soviet economy than on the US. ``I believe they feel that a weakened, exhausted Soviet Union is better than a developed one. This is a tragic mistake.''
If the US pushes ahead with development of new weaponry, Bogdanov said, ``in the final analysis we'll have to reciprocate. But perhaps not missile by missile.''
Bogdanov and another Soviet observer, Alexander Bovin of the government newspaper, Izvestia, say the United States is deep into a conservative political cycle that began in the late 1970s and shows no sign of waning. Bovin, however, is more scathing about the Reagan administration.
``D'etente requires intellect: The problem is that there is a lack of intellect in the present [US] administration,'' Mr. Bovin said recently. ``Take Reagan and [US Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger, for example.''
Reagan does not want war, Bovin says. ``He wants to get back to d'etente, but only on his terms.'' Bovin says there is also a fundamental difference in the US and Soviet approach to a summit meeting.
``The Americans think we can get acquainted'' at another summit meeting, Bovin says.
``We think we've already got acquainted. We need something else.''
At yesterday's press conference, Deputy Foreign Minister Petrovsky coupled his remarks with further criticism of US failure to respond to recent Soviet arms proposals.
These echoed the comments made by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Warsaw on Monday. In his speech to the congress of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party, Mr. Gorbachev said arms control had not moved ``one single millimeter'' because of ``the open obstructionism of the American administration.'' Other Soviet officials have said that a summit this year was unlikely without some hope of substantial progress in nuclear arms control.
In recent months the Soviet Union has made a series of proposals for reducing both nuclear and conventional weapons. The latest of these, in mid-June, included a modification of Soviet objections to the US Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as ``star wars,'' and cuts in the numbers of long-range missiles.
The proposal also called for an undertaking by both sides not to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty for at least 15 years. US officials described the June proposal as interesting and said they were studying it.
Soviet officials claim that Washington's failure to respond to any of their proposals -- together with Reagan's announcement on May 27 that he would no longer be bound by the provisions of the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) -- indicates a lack of US interest in arms control.