Category Archives: Eastern Europe

National Security Global Roundup

The Drone Dilemma: Iran has the real thing. Now what?

High level defense sources confirm that the drone the Iranians have displayed on TV is, in fact, an intact RQ-170 Sentinel. The capture—however it was done—is a severe blow to America’s super-secret surveillance program, leaving advanced, highly sensitive technology in the hands of an arch-enemy.

The sources also confirm that the beige-colored drone is a CIA adaptation of the craft. It is programmed to automatically return to its base of operation should it lose communication with its control central. No one is sure why it apparently “landed itself” safely in Iran, over which it was probably conducting surveillance. The Iranians claim they penetrated the drone’s internal communications and brought it down. This is highly doubtful, even should the Iranians have had Chinese or Russian “assistance”, which is also unlikely.

Why the Sentinel did not have a self-destruct mechanism is not known. It may have and the drone simply “thought” it was returning to its base of operations. Whatever, the Iranians have a golden opportunity to sell the drone intact or in pieces to certain adversaries. U.S. officials are concerned that others may be able to reverse engineer the chemical composition of the drone’s radar-detecting paint or the craft’s sophisticated optics technology that enables operators to make positive identifications of terror suspects from tens of thousands of feet high. The sensors would be very important for countries like China to exploit.

In Russia, voters, despite a fraudulent election, hand Putin a major defeat

Vladimir Putin’s “United Russia” party suffered a major setback at the polls, potentially losing its parliamentary majority just months before Putin seeks to return to the Presidency. The results will likely force the Party to form a coalition with opposition parties. United Russia garnered at best 47% of the vote, compared to its 64% in the previous election four years ago, and probably would have been much less if the authorities hadn’t resorted to ballot stuffing and illegal voting.

The election has emboldened the opposition, which has staged huge rallies and parades in Moscow, this time with the grudging permission of the authorities. Putin himself has been booed when he has made public appearances, something that he claims—as only a former KGB officer could suggest—was the result of American “meddling” in Russia (specifically Secretary of State Clinton).

Before anyone starts rejoicing, keep in mind that the major beneficiaries of United Russia’s fall have been the Communist Party, and the strongly nationalist Liberal Democratic Party led by the erratic Vladimir Zhirinovsky. So far those reaping the fruits of Putin and Medvedev’s downturn have not been the forces advocating for greater democracy and liberalization, although corruption and nepotism have been a focus. So far this is not a “Russian Spring”, perhaps more a “Russian revanchism” (return to the days of a “strong leader”?), but hold on—this shift is far from over.

Europe avoids a collapse—for now—but the debt crisis is far from solved

The 27-nation European Union summit ended with a band-aid being placed on the continent’s economic crisis, enough to get by for now but far less than what is necessary to seriously address Europe’s burgeoning debt crisis. While some breathed a sigh of relief that a global economic meltdown was averted, in fact the EU tried—and failed—to come up with a grand plan to fix the underlying fundamental challenge. At best they kicked the can down the road for a few months. That’s all.

The only “concrete” result of the Summit was a pledge—nothing more—to work towards a new treaty binding them together in an effort to save the Euro. Leaders have tried, and repeatedly have failed, to come up with a solution to the debt crisis, especially among the southern “PIGS”—Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy. The pact that emanated from this meeting is very complicated, may require national referendums to pass, must be accomplished in a matter of months when it has taken years in the past to achieve even modest changes, and must overcome powerful employee unions’ opposition to any austerity measures.

The big winner, if there was one, from the meeting was Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the session signaled the growing clout of Germany. At the same time it marked a further distancing of the United Kingdom from the Continent and the increasing isolation of Britain from Europe—much of that due to PM David Cameron’s refusal to join in the commitment to a new treaty. Cameron himself sought a face-saving compromise, one that would allow him to satisfy the intense anti-Europe sensitivities of his Conservative Party. Cameron had incurred the wrath of his own party back home by suggesting the UK should be helpful in assisting its neighbors save the Euro. Ironically, Cameron is very much in synch with Germany and France as a leading advocate of austerity that Merkel and Sarkozy are pushing.

Both Merkel and Sarkozy said they had no interest in trying to placate Cameron and the UK. As a result, Britain is even further isolated in Europe.

The net result of the Summit is that the crisis has once again been delayed, Germany—and to a lesser extent France—has solidified its leadership and dominant position in European economic issues, Britain is even more isolated, and the countries on the southern rim must take domestically impossible austerity measures to reduce spending and rein in government employee compensation. Hmm—sound familiar?

JCS Chairman Dempsey reiterates that the most critical security issue is the Economy

Former Chairman of the JCS Admiral Mike Mullen raised some eyebrows when he stated explicitly that the biggest threat facing the U.S. was the national debt. This week the current Chairman, Army General Marty Dempsey, extended that worry further by saying that today “We are extraordinarily concerned about the health and viability of the euro….because of the potential for civil unrest and the breakup of the European Union”. Wow—very unusual for a CJCS, to say the least.

The comments illustrate two points. First, one would expect the country’s top military man to comment on global terrorism threats, the military challenges in the Mideast, or what rogue nations like North Korea or Iran do. Here the Chairman is again saying that the economy and particularly the debt crisis, are at the top of the challenges we face. Second, his focus illustrates that the European economic crisis is also an unexpected concern and focus of our military commanders—the health of the economies of our key allies.

The national budget has also fixated the top military and civilian leadership at the Pentagon. Not surprisingly, since the failure of the so-called “Super Committee” means that the stipulations proscribed in the Budget Control Act passed by Congress now come into play. This “sequestration” means that government spending will be automatically cut by $1.2 trillion in 2013, with the axe falling primarily on the Defense Department. In addition to the $350 billion of cuts already agreed on, DOD could lose up to another trillion dollars—nearly a fifth of the total—from its projected spending plans through 2023. If that happens, according to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, America would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the fewest ships since 1915, and the smallest air force in its history.

Well, it’s doubtful that sequestration will actually happen, but given the paralysis that now encompasses the nation’s capital, who knows?

NRC Chairman Jaczko is causing the nation serious damage his colleagues charge? So why has he not been removed?

Even though he has been the subject of an extremely scathing report by the Inspector General of his own agency. Even though now all four of his fellow commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission say that they have “grave concerns” that the NRC Chairman, Greg Jaczko, is causing “serious damage” to the Commission and has created a horrible work environment marked by “bullying” and a total “lack of understanding”, he has not been removed.

How could this be? This is the Chairman who overrode a Technical Panel review that concluded that closing the Yucca nuclear waste repository was illegal. But he brushed aside that conclusion and ordered the Repository to be shuttered anyway. Congressman Darrell Issa says that the letter of complaint from Jaczko’s fellow commissioners shows a serious breach of trust. Commissioners and staff have complained about the Chairman’s “brusque” style, that the Commission’s staff operates in an atmosphere of intimidation, and that his behavior is “absolutely unacceptable”.

So why has he not been replaced? President Obama has the authority and has been urged to do so by Congressional representatives? How is that such incompetence, corrosive behavior, widely condemned unilateral decisions, and having created a “chilled work environment”, could permit him to stay on, you might ask. How could it be that a Chairman of a key agency who has been lambasted by his own Inspector General could stay on?

Oh, silly us. We forget that Jaczko formerly worked for SEN Harry Reid, the Majority Leader and key ally for the President’s legislative agenda, whose opposition to the Yucca repository is well known. It appears that Reid will not permit his one time lackey, or staffer, to be replaced. In fact, just today, SEN Reid labeled the charges against Jaczko as nothing but “a politically-motivated witch hunt”. Did he forget that two of the four Commissioners are Democrats appointed by President Obama?

It also appears that Nevada’s senior leadership, including SEN Dean Heller, GOV Brian Sandoval, and former SEN Dick Bryan, who heads up the state Committee on Nuclear Projects, are content to not raise any concerns and leave this corrosive individual in charge of the very important NRC, despite his demonstrated incompetence and lack of trust and support. And that’s a shame, isn’t it?

Tyrus W. Cobb

Minister of Enlightenment, the NSF

December 11, 2011

The Nuclear Posture Review; Poland’s Tragic Losses and Anatoly Dobrynin

Three rather disparate articles today for your perusal. The first examines the just announced U.S. Nuclear Posture Review and the new START Treaty signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev, and discusses the “Nuclear Summit” to be held in Washington this week. The interview, with a Council on Foreign relations expert, concludes that : “There are three principal new points: The first is a change in U.S. declaratory policy. The new posture review says that the United States will only use nuclear weapons against states that either have nuclear weapons, or which are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or that are signatories but who are violating their nonproliferation obligations.  The second is the priority given to preventing nuclear terrorism and preventing proliferation. This is certainly a first for a posture review and reflects a much broader sense of how nuclear weapons and U.S. nuclear policy fits into U.S. strategy.  And the third point is that the administration is going to “reinvigorate” as it sees it, the U.S nuclear complex, but it will not pursue any steps that come even close, right now, to producing new nuclear weapons. The 2nd piece is a poignant commentary by Andrew Nagorski on the deep loss felt by Poland with the deaths of so many of its key national security leadership in a plane crash near–of all places–the Katyn Forest. Nagorski also discusses the importance of the massacre of the Polish politico-military leadership that Stalin ordered at Katyn in 1940 to the Polish people. The 3rd is a WSJ obituary on Anatoly Dobrinin, long time Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. and a key figure in U.S.-Soviet “Cold War” negotiations. Enjoy! Ty U.S. Nuclear Posture’s New Priorities

Interviewee: Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, CFR
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor,

April 6, 2010

The main emphasis in the latest Nuclear Posture Review is in the declaratory changes —that the United States will only use nuclear weapons against nuclear states or states that are not in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or not in compliance with it, like North Korea or Iran, says Michael A. Levi, a CFR expert on arms control. He says another important new emphasis is on preventing nuclear terrorism and preventing proliferation. Also significantly he says, the administration is going to “reinvigorate” the U.S nuclear complex, but not pursue steps on producing new nuclear weapons.

What are the main points of this Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the first done by the United States since 2001?

There are three principal new points: The first is a change in U.S. declaratory policy. The new posture review says that the United States will only use nuclear weapons against states that either have nuclear weapons, or which are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or that are signatories but who are violating their nonproliferation obligations.  The second is the priority given to preventing nuclear terrorism and preventing proliferation. This is certainly a first for a posture review and reflects a much broader sense of how nuclear weapons and U.S. nuclear policy fits into U.S. strategy.  And the third point is that the administration is going to “reinvigorate” as it sees it, the U.S nuclear complex, but it will not pursue any steps that come even close, right now, to producing new nuclear weapons.

The United States wants only to modernize the current ones?

President Obama’s idea is to make sure that the current weapons work, and perhaps consolidate design, but not to develop new weapons. The headline in the Bush administration’s Nuclear Posture Review of 2001, was the idea of new nuclear weapons and it was something that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (who was Bush’s defense secretary at the end) emphasized the importance of pretty soon before this administration came into office. So, that certainly reflects the president’s preference over that of the Defense Department.

In the past the United States held out the right to use nuclear weapons in case of an overwhelming conventional weapons attack.  But now the United States seems to be suggesting that the main countries that have to worry about a nuclear attack would be North Korea, which has nuclear weapons and is not a party to the NPT anymore, and Iran, which while a signatory to the NPT, the U.S. says is threatening to build nuclear weapons. Is that correct?

The posture review singles out states that are either not in the NPT or that are not in compliance with it, and that’s Iran in particular, and maybe Syria.

It’s a bit more complex than that, and it’s slightly confusing.  I suspect the administration is going to have to clarify a bit. There are a series of paragraphs in the report that seem to move back and forth between different approaches, trying to find a happy medium.  But what the administration has said is that it’s still maintaining the same approach to states that have nuclear weapons, and in particular that means that if a state that has nuclear weapons launches an attack using conventional or chemical or biological weapons, the United States can respond using nuclear arms. The posture review singles out states that are either not in the NPT or that are not in compliance with it, and that’s Iran in particular, and maybe Syria. The posture review goes to great pains to say that none of this means that there is an increased likelihood of the use of U.S. nuclear weapons, against any of these states, and quite the contrary. But what it’s trying to do is establish a very clear connection between being a member in good standing of the NPT, and the specific benefit of his negative security assurance. That symbolic connection may come at some slight expense to strategic clarity, because there is no circumstance I can imagine in which the United States is going to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear Iran.

When Obama when he was in Prague last spring he gave a major speech saying he wanted to end the use of nuclear weapons.  How far along are we, really? The NPR still says we will have nuclear weapons, on the ground, in the air, and underwater.

The president also said in his Prague speech that we probably wouldn’t see this in his lifetime, and he was accurate in that observation. But the reality is that essentially all the steps in this posture review, can be embraced by someone who does not think that we should ultimately eliminate nuclear weapons. We are very far from that. The idea is to move steadily in that direction. And the NPR takes real, but modest steps toward that end. There is this overall philosophical step of actually putting this objective in the NPR, which is a big difference in how people have thought before. But in terms of actual substance, a comprehensive test-ban treaty, strategic arms negotiations with Russia, reduced force levels, increased security of nuclear weapons and materials, all of those things can make perfect sense to someone who does not believe in the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

He’s going to sign this second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the Russians later this week, and the NPR takes note of this.  What is the significance of that treaty? Note–this article appeared before the signing of the Treaty in Prague).

The significance of that treaty is that it reflects an attitude in the administration that arms control negotiations can be a means of building confidence with countries, and that tracks with the historical record of arms control. Arms control negotiations have rarely actually limited arms, but they have provided a forum and a setting in which to understand each other’s strategic thinking and strategic abilities better, and that’s what this START agreement delivers. In terms of actual numbers, it’s extremely modest, and the posture review acknowledges that and says that the United States is going to study further options. And interestingly, it’s very explicit that future U.S. reductions will be closely related to what Russia does. This is a very different level of clarity on this matter from what we’ve seen in the past.  In the past, there’s been a peculiar attempt to pretend that our forces aren’t actually linked to any particular other country.

Do you think the START treaty will be readily ratified? It will require sixty-seven votes in the Senate.  Or do you think that the Republicans will delay it until after the November elections?

Congress is very busy, and I don’t think it has much to do with the Republicans, but it will, I suspect, be pushed back until after the elections. Senator Richard Lugar, the minority leader in the Foreign Relations Committee, has enthusiastically supported the treaty. The posture review is written in a cautious way to make sure that people can’t link it to the treaty as a way of objecting to that.  I expect it to be eventually ratified. It’s certainly going to be trickier than people assume to get approval.

[E]ssentially all the steps in this posture review can be embraced by someone who does not think that we should ultimately eliminate nuclear weapons…The idea is to move steadily in that direction. And the NPR takes real, but modest steps toward that end.

After the president gets back from Prague, he has a nuclear security conference, with some forty heads of state showing up. What is this about?

The idea there is to focus on the security of nuclear materials around the world, and to essentially develop a plan and the momentum to maximize security for fissile materials by 2012. And we all know that you can’t actually physically lock down all these materials, but there are a lot of opportunities to strengthen security, and he’ll want to use this to maintain momentum. I hope that rather than this just being a bunch of press conferences, that participants be required to develop a specific plan coming out of this.  I would have actually liked to see them require the countries to show up with plans to deal with the problem, but certainly that should be an outcome.

Are there any countries we need to really worry about?

Pakistan is still up at the top of the list, not just for worries about proliferation and leakage, but frankly because of worries of instability in South Asia. And so Pakistan’s a concern on a wide range of fronts. It doesn’t appear that there is currently an effort like A.Q. Khan’s underway, but we have a very non-transparent system. We have a system that can change rapidly, so it reminds us that nuclear security, in particular for fissile materials, isn’t just about locks and isn’t just about guards.  It’s about systems, and it’s about politics, and it’s about the intentions of countries. The administration in the posture review reiterates the Bush administration’s statement that a state will be held accountable for any transfers to terrorist groups.

What does that mean?

That is the big question. And the Bush administration when it was in office never clarified it. There is this Cold War tendency that if you can’t figure out your policy you use ambiguity and it will somehow give you the best of both worlds. I’d actually like to see greater clarity on what that means, and on the circumstances in which the United States would take particular responses, because that is a very complicated issue in modern deterrence that has been under-thought.

The NPR as well as presidential statements have talked about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which most countries have signed but the Senate rejected it when President Clinton brought it up in 1999. That may come up again this summer.  Is there any chance of getting passed?

This isn’t coming up this year.  Firstly, China hasn’t ratified, and India and Pakistan aren’t on board. There is broad hesitance on this. I expect that China would ratify it if the United States did, but this is a very charged issue. It’s one that may be winnable for the administration, but it requires a lot of education, a lot of effort. The lesson of 1999 and the defeat of the CTBT, is that you don’t go into battle unless you already know that you’re going to win. And the administration rushed in in 1999 without sufficiently working with the Senate, without knowing exactly where it stood, and it suffered a very problematic defeat. They’re going to be more careful this time.


President Kaczynski’s visit to Russia was supposed to help heal an historic rift between the two countries. But as Newsweek’s former Warsaw bureau chief explains, that won’t be easy. Especially now.

By Andrew Nagorski | Newsweek Web Exclusive

Apr 10, 2010

In the United States, all you have to do is say “Pearl Harbor,” and everyone knows what you are talking about. In Poland—a country that was invaded countless times by Russians from the East and Germans from the West—there are far more names of places that everyone instantly recognizes because of their tragic symbolism. But one stands out above all others: Katyn. The fact that the plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, including a who’s who of the Polish political and military elite, crashed as it was attempting to land in the Western Russian city of Smolensk near the Katyn forest, makes this national tragedy overwhelming in its emotional impact.

Kaczynski and the others on the ill-fated flight were supposed to go to the Katyn forest to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the execution of 21, 857 Polish POWs and civilians on the direct orders of Joseph Stalin and his Politburo. When I was growing up in our family’s new home in the United States, my father—who had served in the Polish Army in 1939 and then fled to the West, joining Polish forces under British command—made sure that his children knew the full meaning of Katyn. Poland hadn’t only been invaded by Hitler, he reminded us; it had also been invaded by Stalin’s armies, and then they had attempted to wipe out any future source of opposition by executing so many of its top officers and men.

The fact that Stalin and subsequent Soviet and Polish communist regimes insisted on blaming this crime on the Nazis, who only invaded Russia much later, only magnified Katyn’s potency as a symbol. When I started visiting Poland as a student and then as a journalist in communist times, people only had to whisper the word “Katyn” to signal their opposition to the government and its wholesale falsification of history. You could only openly talk about the truth about Katyn in the West, where Polish exiles like my father and grandfather, who served in the Polish government-in-exile in London during World War II, kept insisting that the cover-up was as bad as the original crime.

But things began to change after the fall of communism in 1989, triggered by Solidarity’s successful battle for freedom in Poland, which included the freedom to tell the full truth about Katyn. In a goodwill gesture to Poland in 1992, Russia’s new President Boris Yeltsin finally released the order from Stalin’s Politburo that confirmed Soviet responsibility for the murders. While this briefly improved Polish-Russian relations, Yeltsin’s successor Vladimir Putin took a harder line on history, initially encouraging a more positive view of Stalin (“the most successful Soviet leader ever,” proclaimed a Russian teacher’s manual in 2007) and renewed equivocation about his record of mass murder. That included new efforts by some Russians to deny the truth about Katyn.

The irony is that this year, on the 70th anniversary of those murders, there was renewed hope that the truth would really set both countries free.  Four days before the fatal crash, Putin had accompanied Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to Katyn and admitted Stalin’s responsibility for what happened—although he also tossed in a pseudo-justification by claiming the Soviet leader was avenging earlier mistreatment of Russian POWs by Poles in the two countries’ war of 1920.

That was precisely the kind of statement that still infuriated Poles, and particularly someone like President Kaczynski, 61, whose experience as a Solidarity activist in the 1980s made him instinctively distrustful of Russian leaders who weren’t willing to come completely clean about their history. When I interviewed Kaczynski shortly after Russia’s brief war with Georgia in August 2008, he was uncompromising in his language. “There was a test of strength, and Russia showed the face it wanted to show—an imperial face,” he told me. He also blasted the West for its passive response.

Yet even Kaczynski, as tough as he was on the Russians, could imagine a better day—so long, as he put it, the world would “convince Russia that the imperial era is over.” And the very fact that such high-level Polish delegations, representing so much of recent Polish history, were flying often to commemorate the Katyn massacre demonstrated how times have changed. Among those who died today was Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last Polish president-in-exile in London, who officially gave up his post when former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was elected president of a newly free Poland in 1990. Kaczorowski’s government was a largely symbolic continuation of the first Polish government-in-exile during World War II, the government my grandfather was a part of. To Poles, all these connections feel personal.

And then there was a whole new generation of parliamentarians and government officials who died today as well. Among them was Undersecretary of Defense Stanislaw Komorowski, a gifted former scientist who then embarked on a diplomatic career. I met him at a small dinner party in Warsaw in October. As he juggled urgent calls on his cell about Vice President Biden’s visit to Poland to discuss missile defense plans, he was both witty and highly knowledgeable, covering a broad range of issues in a coolly analytical way that was quite different from the more impassioned style of slightly older ex-opposition activists like President Kaczynski.

But nothing can be coolly analytical about the way Poles are thinking about Katyn. Now it’s not only a name that connotes a past tragedy with continuing political overtones; it will also live in the memories of today’s Poles as a symbol of the loss of so many of their countrymen who experienced the full range of the country’s recent history—and its battles over the meaning of the place where they, too, came to die.

Newsweek’s Former Warsaw bureau chief Andrew Nagorski is now vice president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute. He is the author of “The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II“.


What’s Next For Poland

WSJ: Anatoly Dobrynin 1919-2010


Anatoly Dobrynin helped to negotiate peaceful coexistence between the world’s two superpowers during some of the darkest days of the Cold War, and became the doyen of the international diplomatic corps in Washington.

Mr. Dobrynin, who died Tuesday at age 90, was the U.S.S.R.’s chief diplomat to the U.S. for a quarter century. His posting almost literally started with a bang when, just months after his appointment in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis flared.

When the Soviets were discovered constructing nuclear launchpads in Cuba, President Kennedy imposed a blockade and it seemed that war threatened.

Hostilities were averted after Mr. Dobrynin agreed to a deal by which NATO missiles based in Turkey were removed as a quid pro quo for the Cuban missiles and a U.S. promise not to invade the island nation.

By then, Mr. Dobrynin had set up the “back channel” communications with the White House that included entering the State Department through the garage and using the secretary of state’s private elevator. Starting in the détente-minded Nixon administration, he enjoyed a dedicated hotline to Henry Kissinger.

Former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman once called him “my favorite Bolshevik.”Mr. Dobrynin’s extraordinary diplomatic privileges were suspended under President Reagan, but Mr. Dobrynin eventually won over even the architect of the 1980s military buildup. When the urbane Mr. Dobrynin was recalled to Moscow to become a high Communist Party official in 1986, an astonished Reagan is said to have asked, “Is he a Communist?”

The first U.S.S.R. ambassador to the U.S. born after the Bolshevik Revolution, Anatoly Fyodorovich Dobrynin was the son of a plumber and a theater usher. Trained as an aviation engineer, he was working in a fighter-plane factory in 1944 when he was recruited for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on orders from Stalin, who wanted technicians and not intellectuals as diplomats.

During the 1950s, Mr. Dobrynin served in the Soviet Embassy in Washington and then at the United Nations. He accompanied Soviet leader Khrushchev on a 1959 visit to the U.S.

After helping to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis, Mr. Dobrynin was part of all the superpower diplomatic milestones, including summits, the development of détente, as well as treaties that limited nuclear weapons. Part of his skill was communicating the ways of America to his masters in Moscow.

Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state now at the Brookings Institution, said in a statement, “He was a very insightful intermediary with a wry sense of humor, including in moments of great stress.”

In his 1995 memoir “In Confidence,” Mr. Dobrynin wrote that during a 1972 meeting at Camp David, Soviet leader Brezhnev thought President Nixon had presented him an inexpensive gift, a Steuben glass eagle. Brezhnev gave it to Mr. Dobrynin, saying “I don’t need it. You take it.”

Mr. Dobrynin informed the premier that it was valued at $30,000 or more.

“Really?” Brezhnev said. “Give it back.”

Cold-War Envoy