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facilitated by Johnson's escalation of U.S. on only one communist patron. Rather, after and U.S. military contingents in Germany. involvement in Vietnam.

Moscow changed its attitude to the DRV, Why? Because, they explained, the Soviet From late 1964 on, Soviet policy with Hanoi took steps to secure maximum profit troops had allegedly been transferred to the respect to Vietnam pursued several goals. by exploiting its friendship with both of its Soviet-Chinese border, which provoked tenFirst and foremost, the USSR emphasized mighty allies—the PRC and the USSR-as sions there and diverted Beijing from North moral and political support to what it de- they competed for influence in Southeast Vietnamese military requirements, and the scribed as the Vietnamese people's war Asia. Precisely this policy was pursued by U.S. troops were immediately transferred to against American aggression. The Soviet the WPV Central Committee grouping which South Vietnam. 15 mass media now promptly and frequently was formed in late 1964-early 1965 and The Vietnamese side's egoism and its carried official statements by Soviet leaders included Le Duan, Pham Van Dong, and Vo desire (in the words of a Soviet Embassy denouncing U.S. aggressive actions in South- Nguyen Giap.13 This group sought to rid political letter) “to have a monopoly on the east Asia, no longer delaying as it had with North Vietnam of China's excessive correct assessment and methods of solution TASS's statement on the Tonkin Gulf inci- wardship, on the one hand, and, on the other, to the Vietnam conflict," often verged on dent. Steps were taken to expand contacts to avoid any kind of dependence on the cynicism. Indicative in this respect was a both with Hanoi and representatives of the Soviet Union. As a result, in that period complaint by the Soviet Ministry of ComSouth Vietnamese patriotic forces, and, ac- reports by Soviet representatives in Viet- mercial Shipping, dated 18 July 1966, sent cordingly, the CPSU CC now approved the nam, the USSR Defense Ministry, and the to the CPSU CC, in connection with the opening in Moscow (at the Soviet Afro- KGB regarding reduced Chinese influence actions by the Vietnamese in Haiphong, the Asian Solidarity Committee), on 24 Decem- in the DRV were accompanied by com- DRV's chief port. The port authorities, the ber 1964, of a permanent mission of the plaints of insincerity, egoism and ministry complained, had artificially delayed NFLSV.

unmanageability on the part of “the Viet- the unloading of Soviet vessels, evidently Second, Soviet material assistance (eco- namese friends."

believing that the longer they held the largenomic and, primarily, military) to the DRV For instance, back in 1966, in his analy- tonnage vessels flying the Soviet flag in the and NLF expanded. Soviet military supplies sis of the prospects of Soviet-Vietnamese port and its vicinity, the less risk of damage in the period from 1963 to 1967 (particularly relations, Soviet Ambassador in Hanoi Ilya they would run of U.S. bombing raids. Moreafter 1965) exceeded one billion rubles, ac- Shcherbakov pointed out: "Just as before, over, they usually placed those Soviet vescording to the data of the Soviet Embassy in the Embassy believes that the process of sels in close proximity to the most dangerHanoi.10 Prior to 1965, German models of promotion of our relations with the WPV ous areas (e.g., near anti-aircraft guns), in arms were sent to North Vietnam from the and the DRV will hardly be steady or rapid hopes of ensuring their safety during air Soviet Union, but from then on the Kremlin in view of the policy pursued by the Viet- raids. Moreover, during air raids Vietnamprovided only Soviet-made arms to the "Viet- namese comrades. This was, regrettably, ese military boats lurking behind Soviet namese friends," including the latest designs confirmed in the past few years. Even the vessels fired at the enemy, thus making the of surface-to-air missiles, jet planes, rock- manifestation of a more serious discord be- Soviet “shields” the targets of U.S. bombers ets, and field artillery, as well as a large array tween the WPV and the Communist Party of (and those vessels contained loads of carof especially sophisticated arms and combat China will not probably mean automatic or goes meant as assistance to “the embattled hardware for the DRV air defense system. proportionate Soviet-Vietnamese rapproche- Vietnamese people”). The clearly outraged And Soviet economic and military assis- ment. The year 1966 showed once more that ministry officials demanded that Soviet comtance to Vietnam kept on increasing. Ac- we are obliged constantly to display initia- mercial vessels be kept out of danger while cording to estimates of the Soviet Embassy tive and unilaterally, as it were, drag the discharging their noble mission.16 in Hanoi, by 1968 Soviet material assistance Vietnamese comrades to greater friendship No less complicated was the situation accounted for 50 percent of all aid to the and independence." The ambassador then concerning Soviet-North Vietnamese miliDRV, and as of 1 January 1968 the total stressed the “general positive nature" of the tary cooperation. The USSR Defense Minvalue of Soviet assistance over that period WPV's tendency for independence but istry and embassy in Hanoi repeatedly inwas in excess of 1.8 billion rubles, with pointed to its negative aspects, primarily to formed Moscow about “the Vietnamese military supplies accounting for 60 percent.12 indications that the Vietnamese conducted friends' insincere attitude” toward the So

Such a turnabout in Soviet policy with its foreign policy, including its relations viet Union, the Soviet people, and the Soviet respect to cooperation with Vietnam was with Moscow, from a narrow, nationalistic Defense Ministry. They pointed out that received with satisfaction by the Hanoi lead- viewpoint. Soviet aid was regarded by Hanoi they received slanted reports from the ers, who increasingly stressed the impor- exclusively from the standpoint of their ben

exclusively from the standpoint of their ben- People's Army of (North) Vietnam regardtance of Soviet moral, political, and material efit to Vietnam, rather than for the good of ing the situation in South Vietnam, belittling assistance in their conversations with the the international socialist cause. 14

the role and importance of Soviet military officials of the Soviet Embassy and those of This undercurrent of tension in Soviet- assistance to the DRV and discrediting the other socialist countries. However, the North North Vietnamese relations, produced by performance of Soviet arms and military Vietnamese leaders' appreciation for this what Moscow viewed as Hanoi's parochial hardware. They also reported that the North largesse by no means signified that they perspective, cropped up repeatedly. In 1966, Vietnamese had raised obstacles in the way would now take the USSR's side in the Sino- for example, the North Vietnamese expressed of Soviet military experts who wished to Soviet dispute, or otherwise rely exclusively indignation at the partial reduction of Soviet inspect U.S. military hardware, and displayed


other signs of distrust and suspiciousness pendently from China was not yet pro- nam would be hard put to do without Chitoward Soviet Defense Ministry representa- nounced, the DRV's trust in Beijing had nese assistance in its struggle and in future tives. The Soviet leadership was informed already been undermined. However, the peaceful construction. So it would be preabout violations of storage rules for Soviet report admitted that one could hardly hope mature to ask the Vietnamese now to state military hardware, wasteful use of missiles for the WPV leadership to display initiative their clear-cut position with respect to the and ammunition, and neglect of Soviet ex- to opt for one patron over the other, for “the USSR and China."21 And the following fact perts' advice on the rules of exploitation of comrades probably have not yet risen to the is quite indicative: Hanoi named Xuan Thuy, military hardware, which led to its spoilage. level of clear-cut choice." In view of this, the well-known for his pro-Chinese views and a All this coincided with Hanoi's requests for Soviet Embassy set itself the task “to render past president of the Vietnamese-Chinese more assistance, but the DRV leaders evi- all-round assistance to the Vietnam leader- Friendship Association, as the head of the dently saw no contradiction in this: It was ship in its adoption of an independent stand DRV delegation to the Paris talks. pointed out in the 1970 political report of the on the issues of home and foreign policy." The details of relations among the USSR, Soviet Embassy in Hanoi that, while “at- That “independent” policy naturally was DRV, and PRC also throw light on the Sotaching great importance to the Soviet mili- meant to be independent from China, for the viet Union's relations with the USA. Soviet tary assistance, the command of the People's report then underlined the need “to react leaders could hardly react indifferently or Army of Vietnam at the same time regarded more firmly to any action by Vietnamese simplistically to the Vietnam conflict and it exclusively as the obligatory discharge of comrades which may be directly or indi- the dramatic escalation of American miliits internationalist duty by the Soviet rectly damaging to Soviet-Vietnamese friend- tary activity in Southeast Asia. From a Union.”17

purely propaganda viewpoint, the conflict All the above-mentioned facts suggest Sino-Vietnamese contradictions tended played into Soviet hands. While U.S. suphow complicated and contradictory Soviet- to sharpen as the DRV leadership came to port for an unpopular neo-colonial regime in Vietnamese relations were, and demonstrate realize the need for a diplomatic settlement Saigon offered a ripe target for condemnathe great discrepancy between the scale of with the USA. The DRV's consent to hold tion and undermined Washington's internaSoviet assistance to Vietnam and the degree talks with Washington in 1968 profoundly tional stature, the USSR could simultaof Soviet influence on Hanoi's policy. As a irritated Beijing, which was dead-set against neously pose as a consistent fighter for the Vietnamese journalist in his conversation any compromise settlement leading to a ces- triumph of a just cause, acting in the spirit of with M. Ilyinsky, an Izvestia correspondentsation of hostilities. To advance its more proletarian internationalism—as evidenced put it: “Do you know," the Vietnamese militant policy, the Chinese leaders began to by its moral-political, economic, and milijournalist asked, “what is the Soviet Union's expand separate contacts (bypassing Hanoi) tary assistance to North Vietnam—and also share in total assistance, received by Viet- with the NLF, urging it to carry on protracted as a potential mediator in the forging of a nam, and what is the share of Soviet political warfare. Moreover, the PRC started to ob- peaceful settlement. Furthermore, the likely influence there (if the latter can be measured struct carriages of Soviet arms and ammuni- protracted nature of the conflict promised to in percent)? The respective figures are: 75- tion delivered by rail through Chinese terri- sap the strength of the Soviet Union's prin80 percent and 4-8 percent." The Soviet tory, with the express aim of undermining cipal rivals, distracting the United States and journalist noted: "If the Vietnamese jour- Soviet-Vietnamese relations. Although the China and thereby enhancing Soviet secunalist has exaggerated the former figures PRC leadership's approach to the talks issue rity interests in other regions (especially (by 15-20 percent), the share of Soviet influ- later softened, Sino-Vietnamese relations Europe and the Soviet Far East). ence is probably correct."18 remained strained.

Yet the Vietnam War also presented Sino-Vietnamese relations were no less Although discord between the Beijing long-term difficulties and dangers for Moscomplicated and contradictory. That Mos- and Hanoi leaderships affected Sino-Viet- cow, especially to the extent that there was a cow monitored their development closely is namese relations, no major conflict between real threat of its escalating from a local into testified to by the vast number of reports in the two countries threatened a complete rup- a world war, if (as was sometimes specuthe CPSU CC archives on this subject, sent ture during the course of the war. Vietnam lated) the USA were driven to desperation by the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi, the KGB, still needed Chinese assistance and support, and resorted to the use of nuclear weapons. and the Military Intelligence Agency (GRU) so it took steps to reduce or contain the level In that case, the USSR could hardly have of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed of tensions. The DRV's party and govern- kept neutral—and yet retaliating against the Forces. An early sign of the incipient dis- ment leaders, as before, regularly visited United States might have led to disastrous cord between the two countries seems to Beijing to discuss with the Chinese friends" consequences. All the same, even if no have appeared in a still-classified 21 Febru- important foreign policy issues. No matter nuclear conflict broke out, the risk of a direct ary 1966 KGB report to the CPSU CC how riled, Hanoi carefully avoided giving clash between the two superpowers arising stating that Chinese leaders were concerned categorical assessments of Chinese policy, from the Southeast Asian crisis was too great about the WPV's increasingly independent either regarding the world communist move- and this was precisely what the Soviet leadforeign policy, especially in relations with mentor Soviet-Chinese relations. “The WPV ership wished to avoid at all costs. Plus, to the PRC and the conduct of the war. 19 And leaders realize full well,” the Soviet Em- the extent Kremlin leaders genuinely dethe Soviet Embassy in Hanoi pointed out in bassy in Hanoi explained to Moscow, “that sired an improvement in relations with Washits 1966 report that, although the WPV China is situated quite close to Vietnam, ington, the war would inevitably serve as a tendency to settle the Vietnam issue inde- whereas the Soviet Union is far away. Viet- distraction and potential sticking point.

There were naturally other “pros” and transferred as a gift. Soviet assistance in promise of cooperation with the United “cons" which Moscow must have taken into 1969 was planned to remain on the same States; or, better still, 3) warned it that if account in determining its policy toward the level (525 million rubles), but with the open- Soviet cooperation were not forthcoming struggle: Military factors constituted one ing of peace talks and reduction of the scale the United States might resort to rapprochemajor positive incentive favoring a more of hostilities in Vietnam, part of the funds ment with China—or some optimal combiactive Soviet involvement, according to ar- originally assigned for military deliveries nation of all those approaches. When in chival documents. There were two princi- was reallocated for other purposes, so Soviet retirement, Johnson disclosed his calculapal, interconnected perceived opportunities: assistance to Vietnam in 1969 totaled 370 tions as president in a conversation at his Vietnam offered a live battlefield testing million rubles and in 1970, 316 million Texas ranch with Soviet citizens that was ground for Soviet military hardware, includ- rubles. 25

reported to the Kremlin leadership by the ing the latest models, and also a chance to One negative factor, from the Soviet KGB in December 1969. The USSR could obtain a windfall of hard information about leaders' viewpoint, in decision-making on be instrumental in helping the United States up-to-date U.S. weaponry, by inspecting the aid to the DRV was what they saw as the to bring the Vietnam War to a conclusion, war booty captured or obtained by the DRV Vietnamese allies' unmanageability and Johnson argued, for “if we take Soviet straforces. The North Vietnamese air defense unpredictability. Hanoi's independent course tegic, not tactical, interests, the end of the was fully equipped with modern Soviet hard- in relations with the USSR hardly inspired Vietnam War fully accords with the Soviet ware, whose effectiveness was shown by the Moscow to greater enthusiasm in its support Union's interests,” considering that, “after fact that even the Vietnamese personnel for the war, and as time went on, those all, it is the United States, not Vietnam, managed to operate it successfully, despite a Vietnamese properties might have led to which is the main partner of the USSR.” frequent lack of training or competence. undesirable consequences—perhaps an open And Johnson rejected the argument that the Those systems were being constantly im- break. So from that standpoint, at least, Soviet Union was not in a position to exert proved, taking into account the capabilities Moscow had every reason to favor an early pressure on the DRV as groundless from the of U.S. warplanes.22 Apart from the anti- cease-fire and political solution.

viewpoint of realpolitik. “It's highly doubtaircraft defense system, the archival docu- In fact, the hope for a peaceful settle- ful for a country supplying Vietnam with 75 ments note, the North Vietnamese used the ment was shared by both Soviet and Ameri- percent of [its] arms not to have real levers of Soviet-made Grad artillery shelling systems, can leaders, and their tactics on this issue, influence on it,” the ex-president was quoted which were highly effective in attacks on paradoxically enough, were surprisingly as saying.28 U.S. bases, airfields, ammunition depots, similar. However, the Soviet government Thus, the problem, from the U.S. peretc.,23 as well as MiG-21 jets.

backed a settlement on Hanoi's terms, spective, consisted only in discovering how The Soviet military also relished the whereas the U.S. sought to ensure the maxi- best to approach Moscow. The United States opportunity to pore over the latest U.S. mili- mum consideration of the Saigon might have acted through official channels, tary hardware. In accordance with a Soviet- government's interests. Moreover, of course,

government's interests. Moreover, of course, since although Soviet-American relations North Vietnamese agreement signed in the as a direct participant in the conflict, the were rather cool at that time, they were spring of 1965, the Vietnamese undertook to United States could not possibly play the maintained. And the United States certainly transfer to the USSR models of captured part of an arbiter, which remained a privi- probed what could be done in that direction. U.S. military hardware for inspection. All lege of the Soviet Union. For this reason, For instance, at an August 1966 meeting difficulties notwithstanding, according to with U.S. armed forces directly involved in between Colonel C.C. Fitzgerald, a military the data of the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi, a hostilities, the Johnson Administration was attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, total of 700 models were delivered to the obliged to rely on intermediaries in its at- with officers of the Department of External USSR between May 1965 and January 1967. tempts to convince Hanoi to sit down at the Relations of the Soviet Defense Ministry, The embassy pointed out that the work done negotiating table rather than pursue a purely the American stressed the important role the was very valuable: the CPSU CC adopted a military outcome. And in this respect Wash- USSR could play in the settlement of the decision to apply in Soviet industry of a ington pinned much of its hopes on the Vietnam conflict as the initiator of and acnumber of selected and studied models. 24 Soviet Union. 26

tive mediator in peace negotiations. Col. However, apart from obvious assets the U.S. leaders had every reason for such Fitzgerald drew the attention of his interUSSR gained in the course of the Vietnam hopes, for they believed that since the USSR locutors to the Johnson Administration's War, its expenditures were likewise enor- rendered massive and ever-growing mili- constant efforts to open talks, stating that the mous, primarily in the sphere of ever in- tary and economic assistance to Vietnam (of visit to Moscow of Senator Mike Mansfield creasing material assistance to Vietnam. (See which Washington was well aware),27 so the

which Washington was well aware),27 so the and Averell Harriman's appointment as a the figures cited above.) In 1966-1968 the Soviet Union could exert leverage on the special presidential advisor aimed at preSoviet Union undertook to render to the DRV leadership. Both Johnson and, after cisely this purpose.29 However, worried DRV economic assistance to the tune of January 1969, his successor Richard M. that a formal, top-level overture to Moscow 121.6 million rubles, but in fact the assis- Nixon were convinced that Moscow would might result in a rebuff or even denunciation tance was far greater in view of Hanoi's press Hanoi to agree to open negotiations, by the Kremlin leaders, the White House incessant requests for additional supplies. once Washington: 1) demonstrated to the opted not to run the risk, but to first sound out In 1968 Soviet assistance to the DRV totaled Soviet Union that the Vietnam War was Soviet officials in order to ascertain their 524 million rubles, with 361 million rubles hardly in its interests; 2) seduced it by the attitudes and try to reach agreement unofficially.

was largely produced in accordance with Boris Ponomarev, who was in charge of the Regrettably, we do not yet have access recommendations and draft decisions sent Party's international relations, submitted to to all the documents, including the still- by the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi—not by the the CPSU CC Secretariat a memorandum, classified “special dossiers” (osobaya papki) Politburo, the CC Secretariat, nor the For- entitled "On a Proposal to the Vietnamese at SCCD, as well as KGB, Foreign and eign Ministry—and only later were those Friends,” in which he raised the issue of Defense Ministry, and Presidential Archive recommendations and draft decisions rub- establishing and promoting relations between materials, that are necessary to reconstruct ber-stamped by the top Soviet leaders. This the CPSU and the communist parties of fully from Soviet sources all of the many conclusion, albeit preliminary, is based on several Southeast Asian countries by makconversations and probes connected to vari- ample documentary evidence, when, for in- ing use of the authority wielded by the WPV ous diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the stance, the Soviet Ambassador sets out a in the communist movement in the region. Vietnam conflict in 1965-67, including, per- number of ideas in his political letter to In other words, he suggested possible Soviet haps most importantly, the so-called MARI- Moscow about what should be done, and penetration of Thailand, Indonesia, MalayGOLD and SUNFLOWER initiatives (to later the same considerations were put for- sia, and the Philippines. After inconclusive use the secret U.S. government code names), ward as the official views of the CPSU and discussion of the proposal, Ponomarev, along in both of which the Soviet Union played an Soviet government in conversations with with CC secretaries Suslov, Kirilenko, important role.30 An initial survey of the Pham Van Dong or Nguyen Duy Trinh.32 So Demichev, Katushev, and Rakhmanin, deSCCD archives disclosed only cryptic traces Moscow obviously deemed it advisable to cided to consult the Soviet Ambassador in of Soviet contacts with potential intermedi- consult the Soviet Ambassador in Hanoi Hanoi on the matter. 35 aries. For instance, documents failed to before adopting decisions.

The new importance attached to the role clarify what was discussed in conversations Take the following two examples. The of ambassadors and embassies in the process with L. Mulkern (vice-president for interna- political letter33 of the Soviet Embassy in the of decision-making on foreign-policy issues tional relations of the Bank of America), DRV, entitled “Soviet-Vietnamese Relations reflected a general trend, typical of the who asked for assistance in establishing After the Talks Held in April 1968,” pre- Brezhnev era: the growing influence of the unofficial contacts between U.S. President pared for Moscow Center on 1 September bureaucratic apparatus, especially mediumJohnson and the Soviet government, or with 1968, assessed the results and significance of level officials, on policy-making. Since top Marshall D. Shulman (then an associate of the opening of the Paris peace talks. Regard- Soviet leaders had little idea of the reality in Harvard University's Russian Research ing the situation as favorable for achieving a Vietnam, they willingly entrusted decisionCenter), both of which were recorded by the settlement in the best interests of the Viet- making in the sphere of current policy to KGB (the latter with the recommendation namese people, the Ambassador, who signed experts, signing ready-made decisions or that Shulman be advised that his informa- the letter, believed that the prime task at the intervening only in extraordinary situation had to be confirmed by the U.S. Presi- moment was “to help the Vietnamese com- tions. 36 dent). While the documents encountered rades to put an end to the hostilities this year Thus, indirect evidence suggests that in during this early stage of research left these and switch over to a political settlement of defining its stand on the Vietnam War, Mosand many other questions unresolved, they the Vietnamese issue.” With this aim in cow largely drew on the opinion of its diplocertainly pointed at the high intensity of view, Shcherbakov believed, it would be matic representatives in the DRV. And in unofficial Soviet-U.S. contacts apparently advisable to invite a higher-level DRV gov- 1965-1966 the Soviet Embassy was far from related to the war (either directly or through ernment delegation to Moscow in October optimistic about the prospects for a peaceful mediators, as, for instance, through the ser- and “try once more to analyze jointly the settlement. Meetings and conversations bevices of Austrian Ambassador in the USSR situation and convince the DRV government tween the Soviet Embassy officials and Vodak) in the summer-autumn of 1965.31 to express its opinion on the whole package members of the diplomatic corps and jourMoscow's seeming reluctance to meet of the Vietnamese settlement."

nalists accredited in Hanoi revealed that Washington half-way in its diplomatic ef- Soon afterward, V. Chivilev, the Soviet North Vietnam's leaders were fully commitforts was probably at least partly attribut- charge d'affaires in the DRV, presented Pham ted to continuing the hostilities against the able to the fact that the Kremlin was acutely Van Dong with a letter of invitation from USA. Indicative in this respect was a conaware of its limited ability to exert influence Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin for a DRV versation at the WPV CC on 23 August 1966 on Hanoi's policy—an awareness due in party and government delegation to visit the between Soviet charge d'affaires P. Privalov large measure to the complete and objective Soviet Union. The date of the visit was later and Nguyen Van Vinh, Chairman of the information sent to Moscow by the Soviet settled and a decision was adopted on a visit Committee for the Unification of the CounEmbassy in the DRV, led by Ambassador to the USSR by a Vietnamese government try. Gen. Vinh firmly believed that the Shcherbakov. Perusing the great number of delegation led by Le Duan in November situation was hardly favorable for opening minutes of conversations between Soviet 1968. Though the materials on the visit North Vietnamese-U.S. talks. “Had we been Embassy officials and Vietnamese leaders, remain inaccessible, it seems highly likely defeated by the Americans,” Vinh said, “we WPV members, and Vietnamese citizens, that Soviet leaders followed the recommen- would have had no other choice than to agree as well as informational letters and reports dations of their man in Hanoi.34

to hold talks, but we are confidently dealing sent to the Soviet Foreign Ministry and the Another example of the importance of blows at the enemy and winning decisive CPSU CC, one gets the impression that the Soviet ambassador's advice in decision- victories. What would it mean for us to hold decision-making on the Vietnamese issue making dates to early 1974. CC Secretary talks now? That would mean losing every

thing...."37 This viewpoint was shared by information regarding the requests and of- and advising that the DRV leadership take the entire WPV top leadership.

fers of U.S. representatives, conveyed dur- steps to snatch the diplomatic initiative. In That is why the Soviet Embassy's re- ing meetings with Soviet diplomats, and order to convince Hanoi to change its intracport for 1966 included very cautious fore- delivered messages between the two sides. table stand on talks with Washington, the casts about possible changes in the DRV For instance, on 24 April 1967, “Vietnamese Soviet Embassy advised Moscow to inform stand. The embassy, in the belief that it was comrades” were informed about a request of the North Vietnamese at their next summit necessary to "exert and broaden, with the the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that the Soviet with Soviet leaders that the USSR could not support of all peace-loving forces and the government take the necessary steps for the afford to pursue a policy of brinkmanship socialist countries, strong political and dip- DRV government to give access to represen- with respect to the United States by getting lomatic efforts in order to bring the matter to tatives of the international commission of more deeply involved in the Vietnam conthe settlement of the conflict in the current the Red Cross to American POWs then held flict, and that therefore the best plan for both year,” suggested that the USSR might even- in North Vietnam. And on April 28, the the Soviet Union and Vietnam would be if tually have to elaborate and present its own DRV leaders learned that Johnson envoy the hostilities drew to a close in 1968.43 peace plan to the Vietnamese comrades. Averell Harriman had handed over a U.S. The fact that talks on the settlement of That supposition was made on the basis of statement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops the Vietnam issue in fact finally started in what the embassy viewed as a certain coin- from the demilitarized zone to the Soviet 1968 may be regarded as a matter of pure cidence of the CPSU and WPV “assessment charge d'affaires in the United States. 41 coincidence. At the same time, the Soviet of the situation and active promotion of There is no doubt that Hanoi also received Embassy in Hanoi was farsighted in its aspolitico-diplomatic struggle for Vietnam.”38 exhaustive information about the June 1967 sessments—what mattered was not that its

In that contest, the USSR sought to Glassboro summit between Kosygin and forecasts had proved correct but rather the evade the issue of acting as a formal media- Johnson.

factors on which those forecasts were based. tor at the U.S.-DRV talks (which was what In 1967, too, the Soviet Union failed to And in this respect, the Soviet Embassy had the USA sought). The only role the Soviet convince the Vietnamese leaders to hold every reason to hope that the pressure exUnion was then prepared to play was that of talks with the USA on a peaceful settlement. erted by Moscow on the Vietnamese leaders a “postman,” who would carry both sides' The Soviet Embassy in Hanoi believed that to accept a political rather than military messages, and that of “a night watchman" by the DRV leadership would accept the idea of solution, would finally bear fruit. offering an opportunity for unofficial meet- such a settlements only under the following Preliminary U.S.-North Vietnamese ings between U.S. and North Vietnamese conditions: a worsening of the military situ- talks opened on 13 May 1968, followed on embassy officials in Moscow.39 At the same ation; U.S. acceptance of North Vietnam's 18 January 1969 by the official quadripartite time, Moscow spared no effort to convince main demands; a change in China's attitude (U.S.-South Vietnam-North Vietnam-NLF) its “Vietnamese friends” of the need to switch to the Vietnam War; and finally, the socialist Paris negotiations. Soviet diplomats justififrom military to political-diplomatic meth- countries' clear declaration to the North ably regarded the event as their own success, ods to attain a settlement.

Vietnamese that they could not afford to at least in part. "Without acting as an official The USSR undertook the mission of “a bear the ever growing burden of that war for mediator," the Soviet Embassy in the DRV postman" and "a night watchman” very re- reasons of an international nature or for fear pointed out, “the Soviet Union rendered an luctantly, probably for fear of being turned of its protracted nature. So in assessing the important service for the two sides to sit into an official mediator. At least it did not results of the Soviet-Vietnamese talks in down at the negotiating table and open offiwish to perform those functions on a perma- April 1967 and the subsequent DRV policy, cial talks. The USSR spared no effort to nent basis. So the United States had to use the Soviet Embassy drew the conclusion that convince world opinion and national govthe services of other countries, in particular, at that juncture, “not a single (one) of the ernments to support an end to bombing raids Poland, Canada, India, etc. However, early above-mentioned situations makes the Viet- on the DRV, and exerted pressure on the in 1967 a new flurry of activity was observed namese comrades take the road of active USA. At the same time it emphasized to the in Moscow. In Jan.-Feb., DRV Foreign searching for ways to a peaceful settle- Vietnamese comrades that the year 1968 Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh received

was most favorable for a number of reasons Shcherbakov and familiarized him with the Nevertheless, summing up the results for launching the process of the political gist of President Johnson's letter to Ho Chi of 1967, Soviet diplomats in Hanoi reached settlement of the Vietnam issue."44 Minh, handed over at a regular meeting in the optimistic conclusion that the year 1968 The USSR did much to organize the Moscow of representatives of the DRV and would be the most favorable for starting the Paris meeting, including influencing the the US embassies. And Ho Chi Minh's process of settlement. They strongly de- choice of venue. The record of a conversareply, according to Trinh, was to be sent nounced Hanoi's rejection of Johnson's San tion between V. Chivilev, Soviet acting along the same channels.40 Those facts Antonio formula—so-named after a speech charge d'affaires, and Le Duan, First Secremake it possible for us to suppose that by in the Texas city on 29 September 1967 in tary of the WPV CC, held on 2 May 1968, 1967, meetings of diplomats of the two war- which LBJ declared that Washington would suggests that on the eve of the opening of ring parties were held in Moscow on a regu- stop bombing North Vietnam when assured U.S.-DRV peace talks, the Vietnamese side lar basis.

that this would “lead promptly to productive offered Paris as the venue with due regard As to its function of “a postman,” in discussions"-pointing out that that formula for the Soviet opinion. By that time Soviet 1967 Moscow regularly supplied Hanoi with could not be regarded as “insurmountable” diplomacy had already performed “a certain


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