The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 110: Cable from Czechoslovak Ambassador to
Washington Karel Duda, to Prague, August 21,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, K—Archiv MZV, Dispatches Received, No. 7765/1968; Vondrová &
Navrátil, vol. 2, pp. 228–229.

Ambassador Karel Duda sent this cable to Prague on August 21, 1968.. In it, he recounts a briefing
from John Leddy, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, who had been present when
Secretary of State Dean Rusk met Dobrynin after the August 20 NSC meeting. Leddy communicated Rusk's
muted challenge to the initial Soviet cable to Washington which described the invasion as a response to a
"request of the ČSSR Government."

On 21 August at 2.30 A.M. I was summoned to Leddy's office. … Leddy first showed me the text of a cable the Soviet government sent to Johnson. It stated that the Government of the USSR deems it necessary to inform Johnson personally about the gravely deteriorating situation in the ČSSR, which was the result of a conspiracy against the social order in our country by "domestic and foreign forces." In response to a request by the Czechoslovak government for all military aid, the government of the USSR has ordered its military units to enter Czechoslovak territory. They will be withdrawn the moment the situation permits. The dispatch concludes that the move by the USSR in no way affects U.S. state interests, and expresses the hope that there will not be a worsening of U.S.-USSR relations, adding that "the government of the USSR continues to attach great importance to the development of those relations."After receiving this information, Johnson convened the National Security Council and at 11:30 P.M. Rusk summoned Dobrynin to the State Department. The Americans at the meeting included Leddy and Ball. Rusk told them that a communiqué would have to be issued on developments in the ČSSR merely saying that after Dobrynin's talk with Johnson the National Security Council had met to assess the situation in the ČSSR; it instructed Rusk to have a meeting with Dobrynin. Rusk said off the record that the United States was concerned about the USSR's actions in the ČSSR and was particularly perplexed by the following points in the Soviet statement:
1. He did not understand the passage concerning "the request of the ČSSR Government," since, according to Prague Radio, the troops entered without the knowledge of the president, the prime minister, the CPCz CC 1st secretary, and the National Assembly.
2. It was not clear what was meant by the words "external forces" directed against the social order in the ČSSR. The US Administration "has no information to substantiate the allegation that non-socialist countries are involved in or are planning aggression against the ČSSR."
3. Under the circumstances, the State Department decided to postpone the talks about the currency and gold that were planned for today.

Duda 37

-449-

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