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496 Document No. 92: Hotline Communication from Leonid Brezhnev to Ronald Reagan Regarding Martial Law in Poland December 25, 1981 Brezhnev’s letter is a reply to a message from Reagan of December 24, in which the U.S. president called the Soviets to task for their role in instigating the crackdown in Poland. Although some in the administration exaggerated Moscow’s part and there was a basic unawareness of the behind-the-scenes dynamics between the Soviets and the Polish authorities, the overall conclusion that Moscow had strongly favored suppressing the Polish opposition was of course accurate. Brezhnev’s attempts to label the United States as the offender therefore ring hollow, as do other remarks such as his objection to the implication that Soviet-led military exercises were designed to intimidate the Poles; internal Soviet records make clear this was precisely their purpose. Despite the harsh tone of most of the message, it ends with a sign that the Kremlin hopes to resume talks with Washington on other issues of mutual concern, notwithstanding recent Polish events. To His Excellency Mister Ronald Reagan President of the United States of America Dear Mister President! Your message sent by the hot line made it all the more pressing to appeal specifically to you, the U.S. government, to stop, at last, the intervention into the internal affairs of the sovereign state, the Polish People’s Republic. This intervention, in very different forms, covert as well as overt, has been continuing for a long time. By signing your recent message you essentially affixed your name to the fact that crude interference into the domestic affairs of Poland is indeed official U. S. policy. We condemned and still condemn this line, which is inadmissible to us. In an attempt to shield your line from criticism, you cite without any relevance the letter of the Central Committee of our party on June 5 addressed to the PUWP CC. Besides distorting its meaning, you stand out again on the platform of interference, this time into the relationship of two political parties—CPSU and PUWP—between whom, as between other parties of the socialist countries, exist special, absolutely equal and friendly norms and rules of interaction. These rules were not born yesterday or today. If somebody in the United States does not like the frank exchange of opinions between communist parties, judgments that they share with each other, we should answer firmly: this is the affair of these parties and only theirs. And they did not choose any referee who would impose norms on them. 497 It is important to emphasize the following moment of principle. Our party expressed and expresses today antipathy towards those in Poland who are the enemy of the existing regime, who violate laws and the legal order in the country, and plunge it into chaos. You as a leader of the state and government of the USA come out against the existing state regime in Poland, in other words for the overthrow of this regime. This is not an imagined, but a very real interference into the internal affairs of another sovereign state. And this is relevant not only to Poland. Such attempts are undertaken with regard to the Soviet Union. American officials and you personally have been continuously spreading slander about our social and state order , our internal rules. We want to rebuff this resolutely. What in the light of these and many other well-known facts remains of your reflections about our supposed involvement in internal Polish events? Nothing remains of them. In your address you cite a good clause from the Helsinki Final Act, which ends with my signature and the signature of the U.S. President. Yes, this clause, obligating [all] to refrain from any interference in affairs that fall under the category of the domestic competence of another state, reminds us in a very timely way that it is inadmissible for the U.S. to put forth all manner of demands with regard to the introduction of martial law in their country by Polish state organs, in accord with the State Constitution, and to attempt to dictate to the Poles what they should or should not do. Nobody should meddle with what the Poles and Polish authorities are doing and will do in their own house. You pretend to decide for the Poles, instead of them, how, and in what way Polish society should evolve. But only the Poles elected the social order in Poland , not Washington...


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