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Blame it All on Moscow: Secret British Government Papers Revealed


Recently declassified British Cabinet Office papers have put paid to the long-standing myth of Moscow’s intransigence in dealing with the West, and exposed London’s duplicity in its relations with Russia.

In late 1983 there was elation in the UK Foreign and Cabinet offices at the outcome of the Madrid review conference of the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act on security and cooperation in Europe.

The Whitehall mandarins were so happy that they repeated the same sentiment from one briefing note to another.

“… we now have a provisional mandate for a CDE (Conference on Disarmament in Europe) which establishes four basic criteria, all of which have required concession on the part of the Soviet Union and her allies…”

“The CDE mandate … embodies the Western approach, superseding all other proposals.”

“The fourth [proposal-NG] is a significant breakthrough for the West. It represents recognition for the first time that the West has a legitimate security interest in the whole of the European part of the Soviet Union.”

There were no consolation prizes in the British Cabinet papers for the other side:

“Moreover, the Soviet Union’s attempt to gain a corresponding concession in the exercise of the droit de regard over Western military activities beyond Europe has been neutralized by the West’s insistence that air and sea activities will only be notified when they form a part of otherwise notifiable activities on land,” one memo reads.

Message from President Ronald Reagan to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Public Domain
Message from President Ronald Reagan to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

It is interesting to note how this “one-up” over Moscow has now come to haunt Western politicians who are crying foul over Russian air and sea activities.

As for the Confidence Building Measures [CBMs] between Moscow and NATO, the latter went out of the way to reject Soviet requests that since Russia was willing to discuss the extension of CBMs to European Russia, the West should agree to include the United States and Canada in the CBM umbrella. A memorandum by a US diplomat shared by President Reagan with Prime Minister Thatcher praised Western cunningness:

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