The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview
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DOCUMENT No. 78: Cables from the Czechoslovak Ambassadors
in London and Washington on U.S. Reactions to the Situation
in Czechoslovakia, August 10–12,1968

Source: Sb. KV, K—Archiv MZV, Dispatches No. 7501, 7529/1968; Vondrová & Navrátil,
vol. 2, pp. 167–169.

These two cables, the first from the Czechoslovak ambassador to London, Miloslav Ružek, and the
second from Ambassador Karel Duda in Washington, reflect the tepid U.S. response to the continuing
crisis. Ambassador Ružek reports on a meeting between Rusk and Dobrynin and on the U.S. and British
reaction to the Čierna and Bratislava conferences. Ambassador Duda reports that the Johnson adminis-
tration remains committed to a policy of "non-involvement in any form, "and analysts have concluded
that the Čierna and Bratislava meetings have produced favorable results for the Prague Spring, lessening
any possibility of outright military intervention.

Dispatch from London:

According to reliable information from American quarters in London, after Rusk heard about the discovery of American weapons near Sokolovo, he summoned Dobrynin and told him categorically that the Americans had absolutely nothing to do with the entire affair.23 He added that the anonymous insinuations as well as reports in the Soviet press had made it blatantly clear that this was a gross provocation. Rusk declared that if this or similar provocations were to lead to military intervention against the ČSSR, congress would refuse to approve the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Americans carefully assessed the outcome of the meetings in Čierna and Bratislava and have concluded that we achieved even more than had been expected. They did not understand what had caused the turnabout in the harsh position of the USSR, and they believe that we laid down the condition for the withdrawal of Soviet troops before the opening of negotiations. They believe that the results of Čierna are probably permanent, but that economic difficulties could be expected in our country which will cause discontent and could be exploited politically. They are now closely monitoring ČSSR-USSR economic relations to see whether there will be a curtailment and deterioration of Soviet deliveries. The British were surprised by the favorable outcome at Čierna; before the meeting they had thought we would retreat by restoring press censorship and consenting to at least the partial stationing of Soviet troops on our territory.

Dispatch from Washington:

All interested U.S. parties last week gave maximum attention to the outcome of negotiations at Čierna and Bratislava.

The only official reaction was a comment by the State Department spokesman, who reiterated the thesis about U.S. non-involvement in any form. He said the Bratislava formulation regarding U.S. subversive activities was regrettable and an unfounded accusation. Official circles look upon the results of the negotiations very favorably. They attach greatest significance to the victory of the moderate forces in the Soviet leadership, which might also help the further improvement of relations with the U.S.

Compared to last week, the press and other media have been paying less attention to Czechoslovak problems, but the major papers continue to devote front-page coverage to the

23 Dean Rusk was the U.S. secretary of state; Anatolii Dobrynin was the Soviet ambassador in Washington.


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