A Kennedy School specialist in military policy, reportedly under consideration for recently returned from what he described as an "illuminating and informative" unofficial ten-day visit to the Soviet Union.
Derek Leebaert, a research fellow in the Center for Science and International Affairs (CSIA), said Soviet officials he met with while in Moscow from April 12 to 23 voiced bewilderment at what they regard as confusion in Reagan administration foreign policy and concern over its anti Sovit rhetoric.
Leebaert, reportedly a candidate for deputy undersecretary of defense, is expected to pass his findings to middle-level administration foreign policy officials.
He said the Institute on the U.S.A. and Canada, headed by top Soviet Americanologist Georgi Arbatov, invited him to Moscow in March to participate in informal discussions at the official Soviet think-tank. Leebaert also met with Soviet Foreign Ministry officials, he said.
With official U.S. Soviet communications at a minimum recently as a result of strained relations between the two countries, the Soviets are "eager to talk with anybody they can simply to accumulate information" on the new administration. Leebaert said.
The Soviets, he said, reiterated a desire to resume arms negotiations with the U.S. currently at a standstill. "It's a very conscious Russian policy to say, 'Sure we'll talk with you but only about what's important to us.'" Leebaert added.
Leebaert, a defense policy consultant to the Republican party who worked on Reagan's national security transition team,-'escribed his visit as a low-key effort to keep channels of communication open and stressed that he was not officially representing the U.S. government on his trip and did not carry any official messages.
He said that while Poland was not discussed, the Soviet seemed particularly interested in the reasons behind conflicting statements coming from the administration, its staffing methods and general outlook.
"I really and truly don't think they know what's going on." Leebaert, managing editor of the CSIA journal. "International Security." and now at work on a book on Soviet military strategy, said. He planned to give a seminar today on his trip for other K-School faculty.
Leebaert said he also met with officials when he stopped in Paris and London enroute to and from Moscow