Soviet Premier Nikolai Tikhonov held out hopes today that progress in the current Soviet-American nuclear talks in Geneva would lead to broader arms-control efforts, saying, "We are doing everything we can to direct the course of events into the channel of constructive dialogue" with the United States.
In the first statement by a senior Kremlin official since the Polish military takeover put a distinct chill in East-West relations, the Soviet premier asserted that "the Soviet Union is not seeking confrontation with any Western country, including the United States.
"In our opinion, the talks that have started in Geneva create an opportunity for taking a step, that is so important at this time, for solving the entire set of questions of arms limitation and disarmament. All that is needed for the successful conduct of talks is recognition by the United States of the principle of equality and equal security."
U.S. Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko were expected to use their meeting in Geneva next week to agree on the beginning of restructured strategic arms negotiations, but U.S. officials have indicated that the administration is reconsidering that move following the crackdown in Poland.
Tikhonov's remarks included a rebuke for the Reagan administration for exerting "crude pressure" against, and "arrogantly interfering" in the internal affairs of socialist countries, including Afghanistan and Poland.
"Those who prefer the language of threats and demonstrations of strength to a peaceful dialogue should understand that we will take all the necessary measures to ensure our security and the security of our allies and friends," he said.
Nevertheless, the overall tone of his statement was conciliatory and appeared designed to convey continued Soviet interest in a dialogue with Washington prior to the meeting between Haig and Gromyko.
Tikhonov made the remarks in a speech delivered during the Kremlin luncheon honoring a visiting Angolan government delegation. Portions of his speech were distributed by the Tass news agency.
In contrast to his nonpolemical tone, two senior officials of the Soviet Central Committee today attacked President Reagan's sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union as an attempt "to damage socialism" and subvert detente and arms-control negotiations.
Writing in the Communist Party newspaper Pravda, Valentin Falin, deputy spokesman for the Central Committee, and Vitaly Kobysh, a senior specialist on the United States, talked about muted U.S. threats "to withdraw from the Geneva talks."
"One gets the impression that the world public opinion is actually being prepared for such a move," they added.
Diplomatic observers here said the conflicting tones of today's pronouncements reflect a double-track Kremlin approach prior to the Haig-Gromyko meeting.
While the premier reaffirmed continued Soviet interest in detente and Soviet-American dialogue, the two senior Central Committee officials continued the basic propaganda line that cast doubt on U.S. intentions at Geneva while denouncing Reagan's alleged interference in Polish affairs.
The latter clearly aims to convey that Washington should not harbor any illusion about Soviet wavering following NATO condemnation of repression in Poland.
"The Soviet Union," Falin and Kobysh wrote, "does not press its friendship on anyone nor does it seek a quarrel with anyone. But those who itch for a fight with us should know that they will not gain anything from it. The history of international relations since the October revolution confirms this."
Despite its propaganda, observers here say Moscow believes that the Geneva talks represent the last chance for halting a slide toward a new cold war. The tough talk is in part designed, according to the observers, to convey a message of the Kremlin's unyielding determination to defend its strategic interests in Eastern Europe.
There is speculation in well-informed political circles that the Soviets may link Washington's political pressure on Poland to the general situation in the Middle East, where Moscow believes it has the capabilities to create difficulties for the United States.
Such a linkage, according to this thinking, may be advanced by Gromyko in his meeting with Haig.