Russia's Diplomatic Offensive

April 5, 1972

Report Outline
Moves for Accommodation with West
Militant Course of Kremlin Policies
Continued Ambiguity Over Soviet Goals

Moves for Accommodation with West

President Nixon has said that on his forthcoming trip to Moscow, beginning May 22, he wants to “establish a political framework for dealing with the issues still in dispute” and “examine with the Soviet leaders the further development of the U.S.-Soviet relationship in the years ahead.” Presumably these objectives are shared by the Kremlin. However, in a time of fluidity in the international alignment of powers, American suspicions of Soviet intentions will most likely be reciprocated by the President's hosts. Ever since Nixon announced last July 17 that he would visit Peking, the Russians have been attempting to shift their foreign policy to meet the threat they see in America's reconciliation with China.

While the containment of a hostile China has become the primary Soviet objective, the Russians are also said to believe that the revival of an isolationist spirit in the United States offers them new opportunities for the expansion of their influence in the Indian Ocean area, the Middle East and Europe. The Soviets apparently believe that the Atlantic alliance as they have known it since the end of World War II is on the verge of collapse. Britain's entry into the European Economic Community (Common Market) and Western Europe's economic quarrels with the United States reinforce this belief. But a reduction of tensions rather than expansionism seems to be the Kremlin's goal in Europe as long as its Asian borders seem insecure. Moscow has gradually but steadily mounted a diplomatic offensive to bring about a settlement of outstanding East-West differences in Europe.

Nevertheless, it is an axiom of international politics that neither Washington nor Moscow can be entirely sure of the other's true intentions. Soviet leaders are portrayed as being disturbed over what they consider Nixon's unpredictability in foreign affairs. His unexpected decisions to send military forces into Cambodia and Laos, and to seek an accommodation with China are cited as examples. Washington's uncertainty over Soviet aims was disclosed in the President's 1972 foreign-policy message to Congress on Feb. 9. Asserting that Russia “is continuing to create [military] strategic capabilities beyond a level which by any reasonable standard already seemed sufficient,” Nixon said that he and his advisers were puzzled “whether we are now witnessing a permanent change in Soviet policy or only a passing phase concerned more with tactics than with fundamental commitment to a stable international system.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S.-Soviet Relations
Sep. 14, 1990  The Western Alliance After the Cold War
Feb. 10, 1989  Soviet Trade: In America's Best Interest?
Nov. 01, 1985  U.S.-Soviet Summitry
Jul. 09, 1982  Controlling Scientific Information
May 25, 1973  Trends in U.S.-Soviet Relations
Apr. 05, 1972  Russia's Diplomatic Offensive
Feb. 09, 1972  Trading with Communist Nations
Mar. 10, 1971  Indian Ocean Policy
Apr. 21, 1965  Negotiations with Communists
Nov. 13, 1963  Scientific Cooperation with the Soviet Union
Oct. 03, 1963  Trade with the Communists
Sep. 11, 1963  Non-Aggression Pacts and Surprise Attack
Oct. 11, 1961  East-West Negotiations
Mar. 29, 1961  Russia and United Nations
Aug. 10, 1960  Challenged Monroe Doctrine
Sep. 02, 1959  American-Soviet Trade
Jul. 03, 1959  Cultural Exchanges with Soviet Russia
Aug. 11, 1958  Conference Diplomacy
Jul. 23, 1958  Limited War
May 14, 1958  Cold War Propaganda
Feb. 26, 1958  Military Disengagement
Feb. 20, 1957  Indirect Aggression
Jul. 25, 1956  Trading with Communists
Jan. 11, 1956  Economic Cold War
Nov. 26, 1954  Peaceful Coexistence
Dec. 01, 1953  Tests of Allied Unity
Sep. 18, 1953  Negotiating with the Reds
Jun. 17, 1953  East-West Trade
Apr. 12, 1951  Non-Military Weapons in Cold-War Offensive
Apr. 20, 1949  Mediterranean Pact and Near East Security
Apr. 28, 1948  Trade with Russia
Sep. 11, 1946  Loyalty in Government
Jul. 31, 1946  Arctic Defenses
Apr. 01, 1943  American and British Relations with Russia
Feb. 24, 1933  Soviet-American Political and Trade Relations
Nov. 03, 1931  Russian-American Relations
Feb. 14, 1924  Russian Trade with the United States
Diplomacy and Diplomats
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
U.S. at War: Cold War