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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 140: Minutes of the Sofia Meeting of the
Committee of Ministers of Defense, December 17, 1988

At this Warsaw Pact defense ministers' meeting 10 days after Mikhail Gorbachev's U.N. speech (see Document no. 135), Iazov and Kulikov explain the Soviet rationale for making unilateral arms cuts. Although they do not say so below, they were them- selves deeply worried about the consequenses of such a move, as were many of their colleagues. Not coincidentally, more than 100 Soviet officers, including Kulikov, were fired within weeks of this meeting.

General Iazov: "…" During its meeting in July 1988, the Political Consultative Committee of the member-states of the Warsaw Pact passed a resolution on the development of recommendations to improve the organizational structure of the Unified Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact in order to give them a distinctly defensive character as well to achieve the possible reduction of military forces and armaments in Europe.

Commensurate with this resolution, the political and military leadership of the Soviet Union has been working to bring the organizational structure of the Soviet military into line with the defensive military doctrine of the Warsaw Pact. "…"

After a complex assessment of the military–political situation and the power ratio, in particular in Central Europe, the Soviet leadership has concluded that the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact could undertake several measures without waiting for a concrete agreement at the upcoming negotiations on mutual force reductions.

"…"

The grouping of our land forces in Europe as well as a significant portion of our weaponry have been moved forward to face the NATO forces on the FRG border with the GDR and Czechoslovakia. This came about in the wake of World War II. However, at the same time, it was also a conscious decision on our part in response to the continuous buildup of NATO forces in Europe and other actions by the U.S.

A significant reduction in tensions in Europe in recent years is noticeable. The current situation does not completely correspond to the Warsaw Pact's new military doctrine and will be used by the West to insinuate that we intend to attack.

Considering the West's (publicly) expressed uneasiness over the number of divisions and tanks in the Soviet armed forces, we have decided, in coordination with the leadership of all Warsaw Pact member-states, to withdraw six tank divisions (Group of Soviet Forces in Germany—4, Central Group—1, Southern Group—1) as well as an independent anti-aircraft missile contingent (Northern Group) from our military forces and to dissolve these divisions.

In addition, the aerial attack squadrons, the army's aerial attack battalions, as well as several transport units, all training and attack divisions and equipment will be withdrawn and transferred to the Soviet Union.

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