Politburo meeting. Rusakov’s report on his visit to the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary to discuss the situation in Poland. Politburo concern over Jaruzelski‘s failure to act. [R 29 October 1981, Politburo, para 2].
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MEETING OF CPSU POLITBURO
29 October 1981
Comrade L.I. BREZHNEV
Comrades in attendance:
Yu.V. Andropov, M.S. Gorbachev, A.A.Gromyko,
A.P. Kirilenko, A.L. Pelshe, M.A. Suslov,
D.F. Ustinov, K.U. Chernenko, P.N. Demichev,
V.V. Kuznetsov, B.N. Ponomaryov, I.V. Kapitonov,
M.V. Zimyanin, K.B. Rusakov
2. Findings of Comrade Rusakov’s visit to the German Democratic Republic, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the Bulgarian People’s Republic and the People’s Republic of Hungary
During the negotiations, the leaders of the fraternal countries also raised economic issues. Chief among these was the reduction in supplies of energy sources, above all oil. Comrades Kadar, Gusak, and Zhivkov said that this would be difficult for them, but all of them reacted with understanding to our proposal and our request.
They said they will find a way to cope with the situation and go along with what we proposed. To make it all quite clear, I asked each of the comrades the following question: Can I inform the Politburo that you agree with the point of view I expressed? The comrades replied, Yes, I could say that.
The conversation with Comrade Honecker turned out differently. He immediately said that such a reduction in the oil supply was unacceptable for the GDR. It would cause serious damage to the country’s economy and to the GDR as a whole. It would strike a heavy blow at the GDR’s economy, and they would find it very difficult to cope. He even declared that they could not accept it and requested a written response from Comrade Brezhnev to two letters they had sent. The issue proved to be very complex and essentially it was left unresolved. Comrade Honecker again referred to the fact that they are supplying us with bismuth and uranium, providing upkeep for the Group of [Soviet] Forces, and that matters are especially complicated for them because the Polish People’s Republic is not supplying the coal that we [East Germans] need. As a result, Honecker suggested, this would lead to a sharp decline in the living standards of the German population, and we [East Germans] don’t know how we should explain it. They will have to reconsider all their plans.
BREZHNEV. […] As you know, we decided to reduce the supply of oil to our friends. All of them took it hard and Comrade Honecker, for example, as you can see, is awaiting a response to the letters he sent us. The others are not expecting a reply, but deep down, of course, they are hoping that we will somehow change our decision.
Perhaps at the next meeting with our friends it would be worthwhile to comment in some way on this issue and say we will be taking all measures needed to fulfil and over-fulfil the plan for oil, and hope to be successful. In that way we could make adjustments in the planned deliveries of energy sources without letting them think, of course, that we are backing away from our decision. …
GROMYKO. With regard to Poland. I have just had a conversation with our ambassador, Comrade Aristov. He informed me that the one-hour strike was extremely impressive. At many enterprises Solidarity has essentially taken over. Even those who want to work are unable to do so, because the Solidarity extremists are preventing them from working, threatening them in all possible ways, etc.
Concerning the plenum, Comrade Aristov reported that it proceeded normally and that they chose two additional Secretaries. At the Sejm, which opens on 30 October, they will be considering limitations on strikes. What comes of this law is still difficult to say. In any event attempts are being made, at least, to limit strikes by law. Comrade Jaruzelski’s speech at the plenum, I’d say, wasn’t bad.
BREZHNEV. I don’t believe Comrade Jaruzelski has done anything constructive. He’s not brave enough, it seems to me.
In one of our conversations [German Chancellor] Schmidt even blurted out that a very dangerous situation is emerging in Poland. This situation might become complicated, he said: it could affect my visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, which might have to be called off.
ANDROPOV. The Polish leaders are talking about military assistance from the fraternal countries. We need to adhere firmly to our approach, however: our troops will not be sent to Poland.
USTINOV. […] our troops must not be sent to Poland. The Poles are not ready to receive our troops.
At present their own conscripts who have served their term are being demobilized in Poland. They are sent home to get their civilian clothes, and then come back and serve another two months on public works. But during this time they come under the influence of “Solidarity.” Jaruzelski, as we know, has organized a number of undercover groups of approximately three people each. But these groups so far haven’t done anything. Obviously we need a meeting with the leadership of Poland, in particular with Jaruzelski. But who will attend such a meeting is open to question.
RUSAKOV. Tomorrow the Sejm opens, at which the issue of granting the government extraordinary powers to decide a number of matters will be raised. Jaruzelski would like to come to Moscow.
BREZHNEV. Did we send to Poland the meat we decided on, and did we tell Jaruzelski about it?
RUSAKOV. We told Jaruzelski and he named a figure of 30,000 tons.
ARKHIPOV. We shall be sending the meat to Poland from our State reserves.
BREZHNEV. Have there been any improvements in meat supplies to the Union fund from the republics since my telegram?
ARKHIPOV. So far, Leonid Ilych, there have been no improvements in the supplies of meat. Not enough time has passed yet, it is true. I’ve discussed the matter with all the republics, however, and can report that measures are being taken everywhere to permit fulfilment of the planned deliveries of meat to the State. In particular, such measures have been drawn up in Estonia, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan. So far the Ukrainians have not issued instructions to the regions.
CHERNENKO. But we distributed our telegram to all the regions in Ukraine.
ARKHIPOV. We’ll have further data on Monday, and then we’ll report where matters stand.
GORBACHEV. Leonid Ilych, your telegram played a big role. Above all, the republics and provinces are all now seriously considering measures to ensure that the plan is fulfilled. In any event, according to information we have, as a result of telephone conversations with the regional committees, and the Central Committee s of the republican Communist Parties, this issue is being discussed everywhere. On 1 January , we’ll provide a report on supplies of meat [to the State reserves].
BREZHNEV. Although we gave 30,000 tons of meat to Poland, I still think our meat will scarcely be of help to the Poles. In any event, it is still not clear what will happen with Poland in the future.
ARKHIPOV. We have further difficulties with fuel. Our miners will deliver 30 million fewer tons of coal. How can we make up that shortfall? The oil industry is not going to exceed its plan, which means we’ll have to make up for these 30 million tons in some other way. Moreover, we have a shortfall of 1.5 million tons of sugar and will have to buy it, and we also need to buy 800,000 tons of vegetable oil, which we cannot do without for the time being.
As concerns the response to Comrade Honecker, I think the recommendation offered by Comrade Rusakov is correct. We must confirm that we cannot change the decision that was conveyed to Comrade Honecker. Regarding the deliveries of uranium to which Comrade Honecker referred, it does not solve the problem because it makes up only 20 percent of the total quantity we use. Comrade Honecker also neglects to take into account the nuclear power plants we are building for the GDR. This is a big undertaking.
RUSAKOV. I want to add that the Poles are requesting us to maintain the level of oil and gas supplies delivered this year.
ARKHIPOV. We are negotiating with the Poles about this, and we believe we should base our economic relations with them on the principle of balancing our plans. Of course that will lead to a significant reduction in the delivery of oil since they are not supplying us with coal and other goods. If everything goes well, however, we will set the deliveries at the same volume they are now.
BAIBAKOV. All the socialist countries are now trying to test us, and looking to the GDR, and watching to see how we treat the GDR. If Honecker succeeds in breaching our resolve, then they, too, will try the same. In any event no one has yet given a written response. I recently spoke with officials from the state planning agencies of all the socialist countries. All of them want to preserve the overall quantity of oil deliveries as planned for coming years. Some propose that other energy sources be substituted for oil.