Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko issued a warning today that Moscow had "legitimate interests" in Poland and that it was prepared to defend them.
The warning, in a speech before the Supreme Soviet (legislature), appeared to have been timed to coincide with Pope John Paul II's arrival in Poland.
Gromyko accused the West of seeking to weaken and devide the Soviet Bloc and of using subversive methods to do it. "This is especially clear in western policy toward the Polish People's Republic," he added. "Poland, as its leaders have emphasized repeatedly, and as its allies, the Warsaw Pact countries, have declared more than once, has been and will remain an indivisible part of the socialist community."
The Soviet Bloc nations have shown in the past that they are capable of dealing with "all those who interfere with its movement forward and all attempts to harm the legitimate interests of this community and test its firmness," he said.
"Let nobody doubt our common determination to defend the inviolability of our borders, to ensure the reliability of all links making up the community and to defend socialist gains."
Gromyko's reference to past crises in the Soviet Bloc appeared to be an oblique reminder of the use of Soviet forces to quash the 1956 Hungarian revolution and the "Prague spring" in 1968. They also suggested that Moscow continues to view the Polish situation with considerable concern.
On another theme, Gromyko renewed the Soviet call for a Middle East peace conference, saying current policy "has led to Lebanon being torn to pieces in the full view of all and being forced into a capitulationist agreement with Israel at gunpoint."