A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 70: Speech by Grechko at the
First Meeting of the Warsaw Pact Committee of
Ministers of Defense, December 22, 1969

Soviet Defense Minister Grechko's speech at the first meeting of the recently created Committee of Ministers of Defense can be regarded as representative of Soviet mili- tary thinking during the early period of superpower détente. Clearly uncomfortable with the new approach, Grechko believed (as his hard-line counterparts in the United States did about the Soviet Union) that the West was using the cover of a relaxation of tensions to build up its military capabilities for limited wars and subversion, primari- ly in the Third World, but possibly in Europe as well. At the same time, Grechko seems to contradict himself on the threat to peace. Notwithstanding his warnings, he acknowl- edges that both the superpowers are in a position to deliver crippling nuclear strikes against each other, which means that neither side is likely to initiate a nuclear exchange. He also admits that a conventional surprise attack by NATO is improbable because of the Western alliance's significant weaknesses. Nonetheless, his message is clear— there should be no reduction of vigilance.

"…"

Marshal of the Soviet Union "Andrei" Grechko started with a description of the present military–political situation, which he assessed to be still complicated.

In order to counter the decline of its influence in the world, imperialism has been increasing its aggressiveness against the national and social liberation movements developing in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, which have been further restricting its base.

Since it is getting harder for imperialism to reach its military–political goals, it has been forced to modify its strategy in the direction of preparing and conducting limited wars as well as in the direction of political diversion. Yet imperialism's main goals are not achievable with the help of a so-called indirect strategy. Imperialism thus is still trying hard to boost, modernize, and further develop its military forces.

"…" Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union possess a substantial potential of strategic nuclear weapons, which enables both sides to inflict devastating strikes upon each other, regardless of who might use these weapons first.

The fear of the existing military superiority of the socialist states, both in the field of nuclear armaments and in conventional warfare, has forced the U.S. to the negotiating table in Helsinki. The negotiations on limiting strategic armaments have been characterized as a mutual feeling-out, in which no side is willing to put its cards on the table.

Marshal Grechko affirmed that there is presently no immediate danger of an outbreak of war against the socialist states, although the danger of a world war may emerge at any time given the expansion of conflicts in the Middle East, U.S. aggression in Vietnam, and other sources of danger.

-356-

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