The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 64: "On the Current Security Situation," Report
by Oldřich Černík for the CPCz CC Presidium, July 27,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, B—Archiv MV, F. IM.

This top-secret report provides Prime Minister Černík's assessment of likely attitudes in the West toward
an open Soviet-Czechoslovak conflict. His analysis addresses first the "hands-off" approach that the
major Western governments had adopted, and second, Western governments' views of the way the crisis
might be resolved, including the possibility of Soviet military intervention.

Černík confirms that Czechoslovakia could not count on outside assistance against a Soviet invasion.
The major "Western countries, especially the United States, regard the ČSSR to be in the Soviet 'sphere
of influence'," and the report observes that "respect for this sphere of influence is so entrenched that the
United States … has refused any concrete commitment even in the event of Soviet military intervention
in the ČSSR." The report notes, with some irony, that the strongest opposition to a possible Soviet invasion
of Czechoslovakia had come not from Western governments, but from several West European communist
parties.

Since July 20, however, the U.S. State Department, along with the French Foreign Ministry, had
concluded that a Soviet invasion was "most unlikely and virtually out of the question." Černik himself
takes no firm position on the likelihood of an invasion, but he suggests that with or without military action,
Soviet "pressure on the ČSSR, especially in the political and economic spheres," would continue. Černík
also notes that even if the Soviet and Czechoslovak governments eventually reached a compromise, such
an arrangement, according to the U.S. State Department, would likely provide for Soviet troops to be
permanently deployed on Czechoslovak territory, contrary to Prague's wishes.

On the Current Security Situation


1) The Position of the Capitalist Governments vis-a-vis the Situation in Czechoslovakia

In deciding what to do about a move against the ČSSR, there has been greater general restraint on the part of Western governments and political circles as a result of the latest developments, especially in connection with the letter from Warsaw from the five communist parties.

This restraint is so pronounced that, for example, the Austrian Socialist Party has refrained from issuing even a purely formal statement of intent, as had been proposed by the party leadership.

The U.S. State Department has explicitly instructed its diplomats abroad not to adopt any position on developments in Czechoslovakia, not even at the request of official quarters in the host countries. This restraint is motivated primarily by the need to maintain the current level of relations with the USSR.111Radio Free Europe has strict orders from the U.S. not to attack the USSR.

The French Foreign Ministry also refuses to express an official position because it, too, does not want to offend the Soviet Union.112

The Italian Christian Democratic Party, likewise, has a principle of not issuing public statements.

111 This passage, though somewhat overstated, is generally borne out by newly declassified documents. See, for
example, "Zapis' besedy s sovetnikom posol'stva SShA v NRB R. Dzhonsonom," July 17,1968 (SECRET), from A. V.
Sokolov, counselor at the Soviet embassy, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60. D. 278, LI. 48–50. See also Memorandum No.
2588-Ts (TOP SECRET) from S. Tsvigun, deputy chairman of the KGB, to the CPSU Secretariat, November 15,1968,
in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60, D. 311, LI. 178–181.

112 See "Zapis' besedy s sovetnikom posol'stva Frantsii v NR Bolgarii Gi Marten de la Bastidom," May 22, 1968
(SECRET), from A. V. Sokolov, counselor at the Soviet embassy, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60, D. 278, LI. 51–54.

-281-

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