Soviets alarmed at East-West German ties
Bonn — Now it's Moscow rather than Washington that is worried about the loyalty of ''its'' Germany. At the end of July Pravda went public (more or less) with an attack on West Germany that was actually a thinly veiled attack on East Germany.
In cozying up to East Berlin, charged Pravda, Bonn was trying to undermine East Germany's sovereignty and its communist system. Pravda further warned that (friendly) East-West German relations could not be divorced from overall (hostile) East-West relations.
The Communist Party newspaper's judgment was clear, if unstated, that East Berlin risks succumbing to Bonn's approach.
For several months Moscow has been hinting at unhappiness with the conspicuous East-West German bonhomie that survived the worsening of superpower relations after NATO missile deployments began in West Germany last December. But the Soviet Union had largely confined its complaints to cold-war-style warnings about West German ''revanchism.'' Only now has Moscow expressed its alarm about the impact on its East German client of Bonn's policy of dialogue between the two German states.
The public Soviet uneasiness follows announced progress in preparation for the maiden visit of East German party and state chief Erich Honecker to West Germany this September. It also follows a period in which East Berlin has let an unprecedented number of East Germans (more than 25,000) emigrate to West Germany (with a promise of some 5,000 more soon) and has agreed to modest liberalization of its restrictions on cross-border East-West German visits.
Many Western commentators, accustomed to decades of East German obedience to Moscow and worried by the erstwhile Soviet courting of Bonn, saw the striking East-West German rapprochement of the past year or so as a danger to Bonn's Western allegiance rather than to East Berlin's Eastern allegiance. They assumed East Germany would have no foreign policy except one made in Moscow - and they therefore regarded East Berlin's detente with Bonn as a coordinated Soviet strategy aimed at luring West Germany away from the West.
As is now clear, this view didn't correspond with either Moscow's or East Berlin's interpretation of the current state of affairs.
The one element in recent Soviet policy that would lend some credence to this view is the Soviet-East German attempt to weaken the exercise of Western allied powers' rights in West Berlin without encroaching on West German rights.
In the latest anomaly, the East Germans (rather than the Soviets, who are responsible under the legalities of the four-power occupation of Berlin) notified the West Berlin senate (and not the affected Americans, British, and French) that Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie would be temporarily closed for repairs. Checkpoint Charlie is the allied powers' guaranteed access point to East Berlin and is not open to West Germans or West Berliners.
After quiet allied protests, Checkpoint Charlie is to remain open to US, British, and French military traffic during the reconstruction.
In the triangular relations between East Berlin, Bonn, and Moscow the first sign of Soviet-East German differences came when East Berlin declined to join the Soviet, Czech, and Polish campaign against alleged West German ''revanchism, '' ''militarism,'' and ''expansionism.'' This restraint has essentially persisted; when East German Politburo member Egon Krenz finally took an obligatory swipe at ''imperialist'' West Germany, it was not reported in the East German news media.
East Germany this month also treated a historical event conspicuously differently from its Soviet mentor. On its 40th anniversary the Wehrmacht military officers' attempt on Hitler's life was scorned in Moscow - but recalled respectfully in both East and West Germany.
Soviet-East German differences have been surfacing in practical affairs as well. The Heerstrasse-Staaken transit route between West Berlin and West Germany - which East Berlin has just agreed to keep open through 1987 - runs through an area of major Soviet tank deployments. In May the Soviet Union declared this area off limits to members of the military commissions of the three Western allied powers, in connection with enlargement of closed zones of East German territory.
The most ominous of potential Soviet-East German divergences is the Soviet military exercise just staged in East Germany. The command maneuvers took place before harvesting had cleared fields. And they were a solo Soviet operation, with no Eastern European allies participating. The conspicuous implication is that the Soviet Army can invade Eastern Europe at will, without the assistance - or invitation - of any East European ally.