President Reagan's assertion this week that he wants to talk about arms reductions rather than arms limitations was dismissed in Moscow today as a "cynical" ploy to obscure American attempts to gain strategic superiority over the Soviet Union.
The Communist Party newspaper Pravda said similar "demagogical statements advancing wishy-washy proposals for a 'broader end' and 'radical end' agreement" had been advanced by the Carter administration.
"Then and now the essence of the declarations such as the one made by President Reagan is to provide a camouflage for acquiring unilateral advantages, violating the principle of equality and equal security, disrupting the strategic balance that has been formed in the world and ensuring for the United States military superiority over the Soviet Union." ePravda said.
Commenting on Reagan's interview with The Washington Star, the paper described the Reagan administration as an "unreliable partner" and assailed what it termed Reagan's cynical way" to "wear out" the Soviet Union economically by embarking on a new round of the arms race.
Echoing suspicions about U.S. intentions, the Kremlin's top expert on American affairs, Georgy Arbatov, publicly raised doubts about Washington's approach to arms control by saying that the appointments of Eugene Rostow and Gen. Edward L. Rowny to the top posts at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency "certainly do not create much confidence" here about the administration's objectives.
Arbatov told a news conference that American statements about prospective negotiations with the Soviet Union on various arms control aspects were designed "to deceive" the public and even some leaders" about the likelihood of substantive talks.
Soviet officials maintain privately that there have been no substantive contacts between Moscow and Washington on limiting nuclear weapons in the European theater.
Asked about statements made by senior U.S. officials in Washington about contacts on this issue, one senior Foreign Ministry official snapped "Baloney, that's what it is, baloney."
However, senior American officials here maintain that contacts have been taking place. "Their problem is not a lack of dialogue," one U.S. diplomat said, "but that they don't like what they are hearing."
Apart from responding to the Americans, the Soviets seem to be equally interested in influencing Western Europe in their current propaganda drive against the deployment of medium-range U.S. nuclear missiles in Europe.