Primary Sources

The Possible Soviet Intervention in Romania


Romanian security forces' violent assault on demonstrators in Timisoara in mid-December 1989 sparked a wave of speculation as to whether this spelled the end of Nicolae Ceausescu, the region's sole remaining communist dictator. Among the rumors circulating was a possible military intervention by the Soviets and Warsaw Pact countries to overthrow Romania's hardliner government. Adopting an increasingly paranoid view of the outside world, the Ceausescu regime took this rumor seriously, as seen in this summary of the December 21 meeting between Romanian ambassador to Moscow Ion Bucur and Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister I.P. Aboimov. Although the Soviets officially adopted a policy of non-intervention towards their East European satellites, there was no love lost between the Soviet and Romanian leaders. The decades-long estrangement between Bucharest and Moscow had been exacerbated in the late 1980s by Ceausescu's public rejection of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reformist policies. The tension between the two governments is illustrated by the concerns raised by Bucur about Soviet intervention in Romania. While Aboimov denied the accusations, his careful reply suggests the atmosphere of mistrust and confusion surrounding Romanian-Soviet relations in this critical period.


Ion Bucur to Ion Stoica, 21 December 1989, trans. Mircea Munteanu, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt


1. On 21 December 1989, at 12:00 pm, I paid a visit to Deputy Foreign Minister I. P. Aboimov to whom I presented a copy of the speech given by Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu, General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party [PCR] and President of the Socialist Republic of Romania [SRR], on the 20 December 1989 over radio and television. I. P. Aboimov made no comments with regard to the speech. He requested that the Soviet side receive information as to whether, during the events taking place in Timisoara, any deaths had occurred and what the current situation in the city was.

2. Aboimov said that during the 19 December discussions between the Soviet ambassador in Bucharest and Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu, the latter expressed his disapproval with the official declarations made by Soviet officials concerning the events in Timisoara. He [Ceausescu] said that those [actions taking place in Timisoara] are the result of strategies developed beforehand by [member nations of] the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO). [Ceausescu] suggested that certain officials in Bucharest told ambassadors from socialist countries that they have information with respect to the intention of the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Romania.

As for the so-called official declarations [Aboimov added], they probably refer to a reply made by Cde. E[dward] Shevardnadze, [Soviet] Minister of Foreign Affairs to a question from a Western journalist during his trip to Brussels. [The question] referred to the events in Timisoara and [the question of] whether force was used there. Cde. Shevardnadze answered that "I do not have any knowledge [of this], but if there are casualties, I am distressed." Aboimov said that, if indeed there are casualties, he considered [Shevardnadze's] answer justified. He stressed that E. Shevardnadze made no other specific announcement in Brussels [with regards to the events in Timisoara]. Concerning the accusations that the actions [in Timisoara] were planned by the Warsaw Pact, and specifically the declarations with regard to the intentions of the USSR, Aboimov said that, personally, and in a preliminary fashion, he qualifies the declarations as "without any base, not resembling reality and apt to give rise to suspicion. It is impossible that anybody will believe such accusations. Such accusations"--Aboimov went on to say--"have such grave repercussions that they necessitate close investigation."

He stressed that the basis of interaction between the USSR and other governments rested on the principles of complete equality among states, mutual respect, and non-intervention in internal affairs.


How to Cite this Source

Ambassador Ion Bucur, "The Possible Soviet Intervention in Romania," Making the History of 1989, Item #204, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:27 pm).

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