Declassified KGB Reports on Eve of Margaret Thatcher 1990 Visit to the USSR

In 1990, the Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse. Just a year and some change from the failed coup attempt, and the sounds of Eastern Europe’s ideological fetters and chains (and the very real remains of the Berlin Wall) falling to the ground as a hint of things to come, 1990 was still a time when the thought of the end of the USSR was little more than fantasy. Western leaders still came to call on Mikhail Gorbachev, perestroika’s architect, seeing political and business opportunities like never before.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was scheduled to visit Moscow and Kyiv in early June, and the very much still-in-operation KGB did their best to keep Soviet leadership apprised of what their sources felt the Iron Lady would be most likely happy to discuss, as well as her probable attitudes toward the unfolding events across Eastern Europe.

The following is a translation of two declassified reports from the 1st Directorate of the Ukrainian SSR’s KGB office, days before the Kyiv leg of her journey. One of the reports cover her foreign policy approaches, while the other was written for trade and economic affairs.


Copy No. 1

On the visit of M. Thatcher to Kyiv

               According to information from British diplomatic circles, the Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher considers her next visit to the USSR as an important foreign policy event which, in the event it is carried off successfully, will help her restore her recent dramatically “eroded” authority, the result of the implementation of an unpopular domestic policy. Accordingly, on the eve of her trip to Moscow, she provided instructions to employees of the British Foreign Office and the British Embassy in the USSR, during which she gave detailed recommendations in what key her discussions should be covered with M. S. Gorbachev and the Ukrainian leadership. During the briefing, the Prime Minister emphasized that any misleading interpretation of the results of her meetings with the leadership of the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR could have “far-reaching negative consequences” for the reputation of the head of the British Cabinet.

               During her visit to Kyiv, as British diplomats noted in conversations, Thatcher will be interested most notably in discussing the Baltic problem, the German question, and prospects for legal free egress from the USSR, and specifically for those of Jewish nationality.  She would also be interested in how “Ukraine’s dignitaries” regard the events in Lithuania, as well as in Latvia and Estonia.

               There is a good chance that the Prime Minister will touch on the issue of opening a British Consulate General in Kyiv. The interest of the English in opening a mission in the Ukrainian capital is associated with the feeling in London that the Western allies are overtaking Great Britain in this regard, especially the Federal Republic of Germany. For this reason, the British Foreign Office is closely monitoring the progress of provisional agreements on the opening of consulate generals of the US, France, and Canada in Kyiv.

I Directorate of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR

8.06.90 No. 22/122


Copy No. 1

On the visit of M. Thatcher to Kyiv

               According to information from British business circles, during her visit to the USSR, the Prime Minister of Great Britain does not plan to “deeply or exhaustively” discuss issues of bilateral trade and economic cooperation and, accordingly, will strive to concentrate her primary focus on discussions of a political nature.

               The Prime Minister’s “cautious” approach to rendering real assistance to the Soviet leadership in leading the country out of its economic decline is due to the fact that she is still “not fully decided” which line she should stick to on this issue. The main factor that acts as a “sticking point” for Thatcher is the deterioration of interethnic problems in the USSR. British leadership is sensitive to the fact that the growing separatist leanings in the Baltics and instability in a number of other republics could force Moscow to take “severe measures” in order to restore law and order in the country’s volatile regions. This will inevitably evoke a response from the West, and specifically from Great Britain, which could manifest itself through the removal of trade and economic ties with the USSR.

               As British businessmen believe, if the domestic situation in the Soviet Union deteriorates further (because of Lithuania or another republic), Thatcher will make the case for introducing a number of restrictions in British trade and economic relations with the USSR. At the same time, the British Prime Minister will be coordinating all of her actions with Bush and refrain from carrying out any unilateral initiatives.

               Members of England’s business world estimate that a “politically-motivated removal” of economic ties with Russia, if the West decides to take such measures, on the whole will not inflict serious damage to British business interests, since it is not intent, in the context of today’s unclear and unstable situation, to enter any “great risks” and make large investments in the Soviet economy.

               In the foreseeable future, taking these circumstances into consideration and refraining from any significant transactions, British business will continue to “methodically” study the market of the Soviet Union while simultaneously establishing direct ties with the constituent republics, primarily the largest – the RSFSR, Ukraine, and Belarus.

               Britain’s business and finance circles have overall “rather calmly” reacted to the signing of a trade and economic agreement between the USSR and the US during the recent Soviet-American high-level meeting. London feels that the conclusion of this agreement will not lead to a sharp strengthening of the US’s positions in the Soviet market. By British estimates, the Western Europeans and Japanese will be able to successfully compete in the future with Washington in the matter of establishing  mutually advantageous ties with the Soviet Union, since they operate far more flexibly than the Americans, specifically seeking opportunities to balance mutual trade, which is extremely significant for the USSR in the current situation, as [the Soviets] are experiencing a currency shortage.

I Directorate of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR

8.06.90 No. 22/123

Published by misterestes

Professional RU-EN translator with a love for books and movies, old and new, and a passion for translating declassified documents. Call me Doc. Nobody else does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: