The Soviet government news agency Tass dismissed President Reagan's stated readiness to seek "a positive change" in relations with Moscow and asserted that his "specific plans" offered no hope of change in U.S. policy.
In a preliminary assessment of the president's State of the Union message, Tass said "his speech showed that his administration has not drawn any lessons from the bitter experiences of the past two years and is bent on stubbornly pursuing the bankrupt course for an all-round buildup of military spending and simultaneous reductions in social programs."
Tass said "the specific plans of the administration set forth by the president give no ground for speaking of any changes for the better" in Washington's attitude toward Moscow.
The dispatch did not mention Reagan's tone, described in the American media as generally conciliatory compared to his earlier pronouncements. Instead, Tass emphasized his critical remarks, accusing him of "distorting" Soviet policies and "malicious lies" about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Soviet Union.
"There is no limit to the hypocrisy in Reagan's assertions about Washington's 'peace-making role' " in the Middle East, and Central and South America, Tass said.
The dispatch reflected a prevalent view in Moscow's public pronouncements that Reagan should not be expected to change his hard-line foreign policy at this stage and that his conciliatory tone was an attempt to ease fears in Western Europe about a possible escalation of East-West confrontation.
Western diplomats, however, pointed out that Tass's rejoinder also seemed to be directed at Western Europe and that its objective was to call into question the sincerity of Reagan's new tone.
Tass criticized Reagan's remarks about arms control, saying that "he made no accompanying constructive proposals which would be aimed at solving this vital problem." It said that he repeated his "pseudo zero option" proposal "which demands virtually unilateral disarmaments from the Soviet Union."