In 2012, at the end of the 30-year period of preservation of secrecy in the UK, 1980's documents relating to the war between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) were widely publicized. The new portion of the declassified documents of the British government sheds light, in particular, on the Foreign Office strategy during this war and reveals some of the usually well-disguised springs of London politics. In particular, as the documents show, British analysts conducted a thorough monitoring of the Soviet and foreign media in both London and the British embassy in Moscow, tracking the slightest nuances of materials published then and trying to develop a line that would allow the US to gain unconditional support and neutralize the influence of the USSR on the course of the conflict.
In addition, a large portion of the declassified documents of that period in 2015 was published by the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States. These documents also reveal some interesting points about relations within the US government under Reagan, in particular between the various elements of his power unit. Documents from the archives of the United States unequivocally show that the Reagan administration from the very beginning, without much hesitation, sided with the Thatcher government and provided all the help it needed.
LORD CARRINGTON: "TIGHTEN THE ROLE AS IT IS POSSIBLE LONGER ..."
After the sudden capture of the Falkland Islands by Argentinean troops 2 on April, the British government severed diplomatic relations with Argentina and secretly sent destroyers and frigates under the command of Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward from Gibraltar to Ascension Island, participating in the Ocean exercises "Sprint" Ahead of them sent the submarine "Spartan". According to some reports, another, but already missile, British submarine was sent to a position in the South Atlantic, where she was ready to launch a missile attack on Buenos Aires.
In any case, the TASS report from 31 March accused the UK of inflating tensions by sending a nuclear submarine to the region. The CIA's April 1 report also stated that on March 30, one or two British nuclear submarines were sent to the South Atlantic area. In the same report, by the way, it was reported that Argentina "obviously is planning an invasion of the disputed islands tomorrow, if its growing diplomatic pressure does not work." How does this coincide with Thatcher's memoirs, published in 1993, in which she claimed that “no one could predict the Argentine seizure of Falklands in more than a few hours”?
Was it really so? Especially since, in a letter to Thatcher Reagan published in the United States in March of 31, she wrote: “You know about disturbing intelligence reports from both your and our sources that the Argentine Navy may be ready to invade Falkland within the next 48 hours ... And we there are only 75 marines and one ice reconnaissance ship. ”
The CIA's April 1 report stated: "The UK is aware of a possible invasion and could send additional forces to the Falklands - there is a runway for receiving large transport aircraft, but refueling is required."
Some researchers believe that London fully used a well-developed strategy of "luring" the junta of the "hot" Argentine generals that ruled in Argentina at that time. A review of the US Embassy in Argentina, dated 16 in May 1979, sent to the US State Department, said that Argentina will eventually regain its political sovereignty over the Malvines, most likely subject to firm guarantees of preservation of the islanders ’property and bilateral relations. agreements with Great Britain on the joint economic and scientific development of this territory. The coming to power of the new Conservative government in England may slow down such a course of events, but it is clear that the continued decline and depopulation of the islands requires their adaptation to new conditions, while it is still possible. “However, the impatience of Argentines and their revanchist attitudes can upset the delicate and gradual approach to solving this problem. This will cause a tightening of British public opinion regarding the transfer of the islands under Argentine control and the further deterioration of British-Argentine relations. ”
According to the observations of the British diplomats, whom they shared with their American counterparts at the 1980 talks in May in Washington, the Argentine side expressed increasing impatience with the status of the islands. But the most "terrible" was that the Russians and Cubans "flooded" Argentina, while Moscow was developing cooperation with the Argentines in the field of nuclear energy! As one analyst wrote in the Foreign Office, “any relationship with the USSR should be alarming in and of itself”.
The 1980 – 1981 series of talks, in which British diplomats used British Foreign Secretary Peter Carrington’s directive to “pull the bagpipes as long as possible”, did not lead to any result, but caused increasing irritation from the Argentine leadership.
The next negotiations took place on 26 – 27 in February of 1982 in New York. The Argentine side proposed to create a mechanism of a permanent bilateral commission that would meet monthly and work to bring the parties together, that is, according to the Argentines, on how to transfer the Malvinas Islands easier and faster under the sovereignty of Argentina. The British side categorically rejected such an approach. 1 March 1982, the Argentine side issued a one-sided communique that ended with the words: “In the event that the issue is not resolved as soon as possible, Argentina reserves the right to put an end to this mechanism and choose the course of action most suited to its interests.”
Commentary from US Ambassador to Argentina Harry Shlodeman on 24 in March 1982: “There is a cynical point of view, especially among politicians, that the Argentine government dragged this old dispute into the center of universal attention in order to divert the attention of economic people. I'm not sure about that. Negotiations with the British, it seems, are quite naturally at a standstill, given the time spent and the inability of the British to negotiate sovereignty. In any case, the Argentine government found itself in such an internal political situation in which it has to do something if the proposal to establish a standing commission is not accepted. ”
As the water looked! But Schlodemann, intentionally or not, noted only the diplomatic side of the crisis that Argentina was going through. In fact, by the beginning of 1982, the military junta led by General Leopoldo Galtieri was on the eve of an economic collapse: industrial production ceased, foreign debt exceeded the budget many times, foreign loans stopped, inflation was 300% per year. The dictator hoped with the help of a small victorious war to raise the prestige of his military regime. He also believed that the US Reagan administration would take the side of Argentina, which helped the United States in its fight against the Sandinist leadership of Nicaragua. True, on April 1, Secretary of State Alexander Haig sent instructions to Ambassador Schlodeman to convey to Gulteri that any military action "would destroy promising relations between the USA and Argentina."
In the evening of April 1, Reagan phoned Galtieri and in an 40 minute conversation he tried to convince him not to invade the islands. He warned Haltiere that the invasion would cause serious damage to relations between the two countries, and offered his mediation, including the arrival in Buenos Aires of Vice President George W. Bush. Galtieri replied that Argentina had been waiting for 149 for years, did not intend to wait any longer, and rejected the mediation offer, saying that "the events themselves had already outstripped this proposal." He further said that Argentina uses all its resources to restore its sovereignty over the islands and is free to use force when it considers that the right moment has come.
It is interesting to note that Reagan had a peculiar idea of stories Falklands. Judging by the entries in his diary from April 2, talking to Galtieri, he was convinced that the islands belong to Great Britain "somewhere from 1540 of the year" (!).
And this is not to mention the Monroe Doctrine, which, being voiced by President James Monroe in the 1823 year, would have had to counteract the British seizure of the Malvinas Islands back in the 1833 year!
On the morning of April 1, the Argentine marines 500 were on their way. 2 April 1982, Argentine troops under the command of General Mario Menendos, operating Operation Sovereignty, landed on Falklands. A company of British Marines stationed in Stanley ceased resistance on orders from the English Governor Rex Hunt. The new governor, now in the Malvinas, was General Menendos. April 7 held a very solemn ceremony of his assumption of office.
From a military point of view, Galtéri hoped that his air force would dominate the archipelago, while Great Britain did not have combat-ready aircraft carriers at that time. The Argentine Navy Command notified its American partners (Admiral Thomas Hayward) that the Argentine action was undertaken to “counter the obvious Soviet threat in the region, taking into account roughly the 60 Soviet trawlers in the Malvinas Islands area”, but it was perceived by the Americans with undisguised sarcasm.
From the psychological point of view, British strategists precisely calculated that world public opinion, which had previously supported Argentina’s claims on the islands and condemned Britain, which “clung to the remnants of its past colonial grandeur”, would immediately side with the “islanders, staunch supporters of British citizenship,” which the Argentine junta wants to subjugate by military force.
It should be noted that the entire group of forces and assets of Great Britain, which participated in the exercises in the area of Gibraltar and sent to the Falklands, as CIA analysts concluded, was capable of attacking the Argentine Navy upon arrival, pushing them out of the suspension zone, then blocking the islands forces
The tactics of delaying the negotiations and the strategy of “luring” have borne fruit.
WAS THERE A THREAT OF SOVIET INTERVENTION
At the same time, British intelligence was tasked with strengthening the monitoring of the actions of the USSR. So, April 2 from the US military attache in Buenos Aires was received information about the presence of Soviet submarines in 50 miles from the Falkland Islands, while they were allegedly under Soviet fishing trawlers. The American attache also reported that three Argentine submarines had sailed.
On the eve, 1 of April, the CIA sent out an information telegram that the Argentine Navy had on 1 in April information about two Soviet submarines in the South Atlantic in the area between the Malvinas Islands and the islands of South Georgia.
In the future, such "alarming" messages periodically continued to come to London. 14 April from a stockbroker, associated, he said, with Argentines at the embassy in Paris, reported that four Soviet submarines are in the Falklands area and that the Russians allegedly told the Argentines that these submarines would help them if necessary.
In fact, the game was obviously played on a much larger scale. In 2012, the English Guardian, which published excerpts from declassified documents, and Radio Liberty reported that it was almost a nightmare for Washington to have a possible intervention in the conflict of the Soviet Union. However, this is not the case. A brief reference to assessing the situation around the Falklands, prepared by the CIA 2 on April 1982, stated that "The Soviets will try to exploit the crisis and provide political support to Argentina, but will not go to direct military intervention." 9 in April, the American intelligence community’s Crisis Around the Falkland Islands said: “It’s unlikely that the Soviets will be directly involved in this dispute, although they may be secretly providing information to the Argentines regarding British military movements.”
Finally, in a summary of the British Joint Intelligence Center from 15 April, it was also written: "We do not think that the USSR will be directly involved in military operations in the conflict zone."
The position of the Soviet leadership in that period became immediately very clear when Oleg Troyanovsky, representative of the USSR in the UN Security Council, unexpectedly abstained from voting for the resolution proposed by Great Britain.
The Russians did not represent any “nightmare” either for President Reagan, who was building his policy towards the USSR, as it became known recently, based on the spy novels of Tom Clancy. 7 April 1982 at a meeting of the National Security Council Planning Group in response to the words of Central Intelligence Deputy Director Admiral Bobby Inman that we do not know for sure if the Soviets are ready to intervene in the conflict, Reagan said: “If the Soviets conclude a secret deal with Argentina in absolutely illegal invasion, then I think we could just sink the whole island with a pair of B-52! ”
Of course, the actions of the USSR from the very beginning of the conflict became the object of close attention from outside, including the Foreign Office. On April 5 London demanded that the British embassy in Moscow evaluate:
- the general attitude of Moscow to the conflict,
- the actions of the USSR in the event of hostilities between Great Britain and Argentina,
- the actions of the USSR in the case of economic sanctions against Argentina.
On the same day, an answer was sent by the signature of the counselor of the embassy Alan Brook-Turner, that if Argentina could not get full support from the third world countries, in the event of hostilities, she would most likely lose, and the Russians would probably tacitly agree the return of the Falklands. 6 April analysts of the Foreign Office came to the conclusion that "it can be argued that the Russians will avoid military involvement in the conflict."
8 April during a meeting with Haig Thatcher directly stated that “we are now rejecting the triumphant march of socialism ... and have reached a point where there can be no compromise. The Soviets fear US intervention in the conflict, since they themselves are overwhelmed by their problems, and it would be surprising if they, too, decided to intervene. ” Haig agreed: yes, the USSR increasingly began to put itself at a disadvantage.
WASHINGTON'S CRAFTY POSITION
As a result of brief fighting from the Argentines on the Falklands, only the mountains remained weapons. Photos from www.iwm.org.uk
On the other hand, the British, apparently, immediately saw through the attempts of the Americans with the help of the “Soviet threat” (including with the help of the mythical “Soviet submarines hiding under fishing trawlers”) to soften the Thatcher government’s reaction to the capture of the Falklands by Argentina. British analysts believed that the observation and gathering of intelligence by Soviet satellites, marine intelligence aviation and surface ships, including Soviet fishing vessels in the Falkland area, will increase as the British task force moves south. At the same time, in response to the fears of US Under Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, expressed in a conversation with British Ambassador Neville Henderson on April 15 in Washington that the Russians might actually be involved in hostilities, they expressed firm conviction in London: “We have no evidence to support of this, and we do not believe that the USSR would risk being directly involved in military operations in the conflict zone. ” And they added: "It is not clear whether Eagleburger's remarks were based on real concerns or were aimed at softening Britain’s position with regard to Argentina."
Apparently, London was also alarmed by the statements of Haig in an interview with Thatcher on April 13 that he was not afraid that the United States would fully intervene in the conflict, but he foresees Soviet military intervention if Great Britain undertakes a military action on Falklands.
In London, the fluctuations of the US administration and its desire, if not neutralized, then at least mitigate the severity of the Anglo-Argentine conflict, were well understood. They immediately analyzed relations between the USSR and Argentina in all areas and noted their rapid development: agreements on the supply of grain and meat, the creation of joint fishing companies in the Falklands area, and the supply of enriched uranium for the Argentine nuclear program. It was particularly noted that the USSR received a third of its grain imports from Argentina and took 75% of Argentine grain exports. In London, it was believed that this was very important for the USSR, which, as expected, was supposed to import about 45 million tons of grain in 1982 a year to compensate for the poor harvest for the third year in a row. Argentine shipments helped the USSR overcome the US grain embargo announced by President Carter in response to the Soviet troops entering Afghanistan in 1979. In addition, they destroyed the widely publicized campaign in the West to discredit the Soviet economy, which “cannot feed itself”.
12 April Henderson was interviewed by the American company CBS. The American audience was impressed, but especially shocked by the British ambassador’s message that the Russian Bears (Tu-95 aircraft) with an 8 range of thousands of miles are based in Cuba and Angola and observe in the North and South Atlantic.
As a result, according to opinion polls in the United States, 50% of Americans in the event of an armed conflict spoke in support of the UK, 5% in support of Argentina and 30% in favor of neutrality.
But in general, by and large, Washington did not need to be persuaded. Judging by the published documents, the analysts of the US National Security Service already on April 1 came to a firm conclusion: "The cause of Britain is right, and it is more important and close ally for us." 3, April, the British embassy asked for US assistance to convince Zaire and Japan to vote in the UN Security Council for the British draft resolution, and received assurances from the State Department that "the United States will do everything possible to help the adoption of the UK resolution." The British resolution demanded "an immediate cessation of hostilities" and "the immediate withdrawal of all Argentine forces" from the islands and called on the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to "seek a diplomatic solution to existing differences." This resolution for number 502 was adopted on April 3. Against there was one Panama. The USSR abstained because, as some researchers believe, "the KGB promised good beatings for London from Buenos Aires." The Panama draft resolution was not put to a vote.
A very colorful process of making a decision on support for London is described in the memoirs of James Rentschler, a staff member of the National Security Service.
On the morning of April 7, 1982, the SNB Planning Group was assembled for a meeting at the White House. Reagan appeared at the meeting dressed in sportswear in a blazer and a blue shirt with an open collar - after the meeting he intended to immediately go to Barbados to visit an old Hollywood girlfriend, actress Claudette Colbert, with whom he was going to spend Easter holidays.
The main question is: should the United States intervene and why, when and how?
CIA (Admiral Inman): The UK has declared an 200 mile exclusion zone, and Argentina has withdrawn its ships outside this zone. The British continue to be loaded on ships, they are extremely serious and mobilize everything they have in the Navy.
MO (Weinberger): The British plan to bring their own submarines into action, cause maximum damage and then start landing. Argentina concentrates its forces on the coast, but the balance of forces is in favor of the British.
6 April, ABC reported that the US SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft overflew the Falklands (Malvin) before and after the Argentine invasion to gather information, which was later transmitted to the British.
Vice President Bush: "How accurate is this message from ABC, which says that the United States is allegedly supplying the UK with detailed photographs of the deployment of Argentine troops and ships from our reconnaissance aircraft?"
Weinberger: “Absolute untruth! A typical example of Soviet misinformation. In fact, the Soviets moved their companions and, perhaps, provide the Argentines with information about the movements of the British fleet».
After that, members of the planning team began to discuss the problems of airfields in the South Atlantic, technical problems of runway lengths, payload, refueling radii, etc., while Reagan sat and looked at the door, while he clearly read on his face: will I get out of here? ”
Secretary of State Haig: “Thatcher is extremely belligerent, because she understands that if the situation worsens, her government will fall. She is very much disturbed by the memories of the Suez crisis, she does not want to admit again the shame that the UK experienced then. On the other hand, Argentina is becoming more and more nervous and, perhaps, is looking for a way out. ”
After that, a dispute arose between Gene Kirkpatrick, the US representative to the UN, and Admiral Inman about who is more important to the United States: the United Kingdom or Argentina and whether the Rio Treaty (Inter-American Treaty of Mutual Assistance) should be respected.
Reagan: “I propose the following solution. It would be better for us to deal with Latin America if we were to maintain friendship with both sides in this crisis, but it’s more important for us that the UK not lose. ”
After that, according to Rentschler, Reagan and his assistants rushed to the helicopter, which was supposed to take him to Barbados. “He couldn’t postpone the beginning of his Caribbean idyll for a minute!” Haig barely managed to mutter in an undertone to the president: “Do not worry, Mr. President, we will cope with this task. I'll take Dick Walters with me, he will talk to the junta generals in Spanish military jargon and beat the crap out of them. ”
But Admiral Inman said: “We have no other alternative but to support our British allies until the very end. I am not talking now about blood ties, language, culture, union and traditions, which are also important. I want to remind you of the critical importance of our common interests in strategic terms, the depth and breadth of our cooperation in the field of intelligence, across the spectrum of threats during the Cold War, where we had close cooperation with Great Britain. And I want to remind you of the problems that we have with Argentina in terms of nuclear non-proliferation. If we give the Argentines the opportunity to go dry when they use conventional weapons, who can guarantee that in years 10 – 15 they will not try to do the same with nuclear weapons? ”
9 April The United States United Intelligence Agency concluded that "a clear British victory would have avoided the negative consequences for US-British relations."
13 of April, at the request of the British Embassy, Iglberger gave the go-ahead to transfer to the British information about the quantity and quality of weapons and military equipment, in particular EW equipment, supplied by the USA to Argentina. After that, the press passed information that the US could intercept all Argentine military communications, which led to a change in the Argentine military cipher. Admiral Inman 30 April at a meeting of the National Security Council announced this, expressing at the same time hope for “a speedy restoration of our ability in this area, although the damage from these leaks in the press was significant.”
28 April The British government has declared the 200-mile zone around the islands completely closed since 11.00 30 April. 29 April Thatcher, in her message to Reagan, pathetically wrote: “One of the stages in trying to resolve this crisis is over. It seems to me important that when we enter the next stage, the United States and Great Britain should definitely be on one side, firmly defending the values on which the Western way of life rests. ”
30 April Haig made a statement to the press, stating that since April 29 Argentina rejected US proposals to resolve the dispute, the US president imposed sanctions against Argentina: freezing all military supplies, denying Argentina the right to military procurement, freezing all loans and guarantees ...
The Anglo-Argentine conflict officially ended on June 20 on 1982, when British forces landed on the South Sandwich Islands. The victory was perceived as a new evidence of the power of Britain - the naval power. Patriotism in the metropolis was overwhelming - the Thatcher government received the very ratings that General Galtieri was counting on. The fact that the Argentine regime was an authoritarian, semi-fascist regime, in the eyes of many Englishmen, gave the Tory military action a shade of the “liberation mission”, the struggle of democracy against dictatorship. In London, with a huge gathering of people, the “Victory Parade” was held! In Buenos Aires, Galtéri resigned.
The answer to the question of possible Soviet intervention during the conflict period is still kept by the closed funds of the Russian archives. It is only known for certain that Soviet Tu-95 long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft monitored the British task force. In addition, the Soviet satellites Cosmos-1345 and Cosmos-1346, launched by 31 in March 1982, just on the eve of the Falklands War, allowed the command of the Soviet Navy to track the operational and tactical situation in the South Atlantic, accurately calculate the actions of the British fleet and even to determine the time and place of the landing on the Falklands of the English landing with an accuracy of a few hours.