Moscow still signals concern over Poland

"For fraternal Poland! For the Soviet motherland!" came the cry as Moscow's troops crossed the Polish border. Days earlier, the Communist Party organizer in the Soviet army unit had met with the troops. . . .

"What will Poland's fate be now? What are its relations with the Soviet Union?

He had to answer these, and other, questions.m

The account, in the March issue of the Soviet Military Review, is historical, a tribute to Soviet troops who marched into Poland at the end of World War II.

But the timing of this otherwise ordinary example of Soviet journalism is seen by some foreign analysts here as a timely reminder of Moscow's unabated concern over a more contemporary Polish crisis.

In some ways, diplomats here point out, the tension in Poland has eased in recent days.

Lech Walesa, the national leader of the independent union organization Solidarity, has met with the Polish prime minister. Reports from Warsaw at this writing indicated Mr. Walesa had prevailed on local union chiefs in the Polish city of Radom to put off a threatened strike pending talks with the government officials.

The Polish Communist Party newspaper Trybuna Ludu, in a report carried by the official Soviet news agency late March 16, sought to play down imminent Warsaw Pact military exercises in and around Poland.

Moscow had announced the "command and staff" exercises would take place in the second half of this month. The British Broadcasting Corporation reported they had begun early March 17.

The Trybuna Ludu report, some diplomats here felt, may also have been intended to answer US suggestions that the Soviets might have violated the 1975 Helsinki agreements by not giving official advance warning of the exercises. Such an alert is required only for maneuvers involving more than 25,000 troops.

The Soviets have also announced that West Germany's foreign minister will visit here April 2, at a time when they are publicly seeking fresh arms talks with the West.

Most diplomats suggest that escalated Soviet intervention in the Polish crisis is unlikely before then.

So why the worry, Soviet or diplomatic?

The surface easing of tension in recent days does not seem to have erased the root causes of the crisis in Poland -- or, as the Kremlin clearly views things -- the threat to Communist Party control there.

"Averting strikes through concessions, and symbolic gestures . . . can't be expected to allay Soviet concerns," commented one senior diplomat.

The Soviets made these concerns abudantly clear at a March 4 summit here with Polish communist leaders. Since then, the official Soviet news media have signaled that the Kremlin is squarely behind a toughened Polish line on political dissidents.

Meanwhile, the Soviet news agency, Tass, said in a dispatch from Warsaw March 13 that "some leaders" of Solidarity were agitating in support of the "anti-socialist" and "counterrevolutionary" dissidents.

Diplomats here suggest that the Polish communist leadership is under pressure to follow through on its crackdown against dissidents and deal firmly with any escalated labor unrest that might result.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.