The Soviet Union confirmed yesterday that it is ready to discuss limiting nuclear weapons in Europe.

But both Pravada, the official Communist Party newspaper, and Sovyetskaya Rossiya made clear that Moscow will not allow itself to fall behind the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the area of nuclear strategic balance.

Referring to the statement made in May by the Warsaw Pact military alliance, Pravda said, "The declaration emphasizes the vital interest of the European peoples and the peoples of the whole world in the earliest beginning and successful holding of the talks on medium-range nuclear missiles, discontinuation of the nuclear arms race, opposition to the growth of the nuclear missile arsenals in the European continent."

But, Pravda added, "The NATO plan to deploy cruise and Pershing II missiles is aimed at disrupting the existing balance of forces in Europe and achieving military superiority for the United States and NATO. It is natural that the socialist countries will not allow this to happen."

After two days of talks this week with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt announced Thursday that the Soviets had softened their conditions for beginning talks on limiting medium-range nuclear arms with the United States.