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COLD WAR: Gathering of the Commissars

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Borodino is a name often heard in Moscow. It is a village about 70 miles westward, where Marshal Kutusov’s Russian army made a last-ditch stand against Napoleon in 1812, and where in World War II a hard-fought battle stopped the Germans. Red propagandists made a Soviet symbol of Borodino. When the Foreign Ministry planned its new skyscraper after the war, it chose a site overlooking the Borodino bridge by which the historic highway from the west enters Moscow. There last week top Soviet policymakers met to plot the strategy of a diplomatic Borodino.

It was a battle of deeper attrition than many in the West yet realized. The confusion in Russian leadership has weakened Communist ranks everywhere, given the opponents of Communism an opportunity for frontal attack. In East Germany the Red army is fully engaged in the task of suppressing rioting workers. Berlin newspapers were full of reports of violent uprisings in Poland, which many a U.S. newspaper headlined, though no responsible Allied source confirmed the reports. In Hungary an effort was being made to head off trouble by making sweeping changes in the regime (see below).

No one could judge how deep the unrest went into Soviet territory, but recent concessions to nationalist feeling in Georgia, Latvia and the Ukraine indicated a wavering of Soviet power in those theoretically monolithic states. It was becoming clearer every day that the recent conciliatory attitude of the Soviet towards the West is dictated by internal weakness.

The Soviet Foreign Ministry moved to meet the new situation by an ingathering of ambassadors. From Washington came Georgy N. Zarubin, from London Jacob A. Malik, from Paris Alexei P. Pavlov, from Berlin Vladimir S. Semenov. At week’s end they were in conference with Deputy Premier Molotov and other Soviet leaders. Whatever counteroffensive they worked out, it would be for the defense of Moscow, and the fighting as tough as the battles of Borodino.

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