Last week's visit by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has produced a keen sense of disappointment among Soviet leaders.
Public and private comments make it clear that Moscow views the outcome as a termination of a "special relationship" it had maintained with Bonn for more than a decade. There is little doubt that this means a further weakening of Soviet positions in Europe.
First, Kohl's talks with President Yuri Andropov failed to produce any understanding on deployment of new U.S. nuclear missiles in Western Europe. NEWS ANALYSIS
In contrast to his Social Democratic predecessors, Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt, the Christian Democratic chancellor had no authentic German contribution to offer because he had already aligned himself without reservation with the Reagan administration's position.
This was anticipated, however, and Andropov canceled his scheduled meetings with the chancellor last Monday in a way calculated to express disapproval.
But while Moscow had anticipated disappointment, it was nevertheless surprised by the firmness of intent displayed by the chancellor.
Moreover, there is a feeling here that Kohl's smooth performance gave him a tactical advantage.
Despite the absence of any progress, Kohl's long discussion with Andropov and other Soviet leaders can be interpreted as a demonstration that he made all the effort necessary to promote a compromise on the question of the scheduled deployment of 572 Pershing II and cruise missiles in Western Europe beginning in December.
West German diplomats said that was a significant achievement for the chancellor, who faces domestic opposition to the deployment. According to this view, Kohl now cannot be accused of having missed an opportunity to work for a compromise.
But what the Soviets found particularly irksome was Kohl's talk of the ultimate goal of German unity. The Soviets regard his raising of the issue at this time as inappropriate and menacing.
From Moscow's point of view, the talk about German unity was a tactical move to cause trouble between the Soviet Union and East Germany. It was preceded by the Kohl government's extension of a 1 billion mark ($388 million) credit to East Germany two weeks ago. The credit is to be provided at a nominal rate of interest and is not linked to any specific projects or purchases.
Subsequently, Franz Jozef Strauss, one of the key conservative politicians in West Germany, proposed that he visit East Germany and call on the East German leader, Erich Honecker.
The Soviets see all this as a West German attempt to influence the East Germans.
Given the geopolitical realities, it is not likely that such a ploy could work. But Moscow cannot afford to be negligent on this issue.
In this context, both sides have revived the memories of World War II and the bitterness of their feelings. As a result, Bonn's ostpolitik, or opening to the east, developed by Brandt and Schmidt is now under severe strain.
The Communist Party newspaper Pravda, commenting today on the visit, focused exclusively on Kohl's support of the missile deployment, but hinted at the broader question of Soviet-West German relations.
"Is it really possible to go along a one-way road in opposite directions--to strive for the development of good relations with the Soviet Union and at the same time to place nuclear offensive weapons against it on one's territory?" the newspaper commentary asked.
"Good prospects were clouded by the oncoming threat of a new twist in the arms race in Europe whose consequences are difficult to predict. The chancellor acted as if he had never heard about the inevitably negative consequences that the deployment of rockets would have on the relations between our countries."