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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 142: Summary of Statement by the Soviet Defense
Minister to Warsaw Pact Chiefs of Staff, April 28, 1989

Speaking to his alliance colleagues not long after Gorbachev's purge of hard-line mil- itary officers, Marshal Dmitrii Iazov defends Moscow's policy of going ahead with uni- lateral military reductions. He advocates opening the East's military secrets to Western scrutiny and inviting closer ties to the capitalist states—all based on a revised concep- tion of the international situation that no longer foresees the prospect of war. (Two years later, Iazov would take a dramatically different stand by playing a leading role in the August 1991 coup attempt to restore hard-line communists to power in the Soviet Union.)

"…"

The state of the Vienna talks24 is generally known. We have the initiative there and must keep it. It is also a matter of using this opportunity to mobilize world opinion for our politics of peace.

For the past 20 years, when we asked the question whether it could come to war, the answer was "yes." Today the situation is different. Today we can say that "tomorrow there will be no war."

"…"

Earlier, it was stated: We need defense and bread. Today, it is stated: We need bread; that means the economy.

A portion of the defense industry should be converted to civil production. Until now, the USSR produced 3,500 tanks yearly. T-72 tanks were also produced in the ČSSR and Poland. As a result of our defense doctrine, the production of tanks to this extent is no longer necessary.

"…"

Regarding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from member-states, Comrade "Defense" Minister Dmitrii Iazov explained that the withdrawal from Hungary was being well organized through the press, radio and Hungarian television, as well as through the population. It is correct that western mass media were also admitted on this occasion so that they could report on this within the NATO states. Thereby, we have documented that, in contrast to NATO, we are in keeping with word and deed. It was understood that western reporters could photograph everything and report on everything. They should have also received access to individual objects and facilities. We have nothing to fear from this.

"…"

As a whole, we must be open and not seek to keep everything secret.

Comrade Minister Iazov emphasized that the Warsaw Pact member-states should strengthen their contact with the capitalist states, including in the area of the military.

24 The parallel Negotiations on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (CSBM) and on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), both started on March 9, 1989.

-632-

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