WASHINGTON -- Russia's release of America's U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers is not expected to have any major effect on the temperature of the East-West "cold war."
The Soviet Union's action may or may not have been designed to "improve relations," as Moscow put it. But American officials are inclined to believe the Kremlin was inspired principally by propaganda motives.
Officials here were emphatic in rejecting any suggestion that the deal in which Powers was exchanged for convicted Russian master spy Rudolf Abel and an unfortunate U.S. student was part of some broad plan to lower tensions.
They contended the dramatic swap was an isolated matter concluding months of negotiations during which there emerged a deal in which both sides saw some advantage.
White House and State Department authorities acknowledged that the release of Powers, coming at a time when both Moscow and Washington were talking "about easing tensions, might well appear to be part of the general "thaw."
But they said this was not true.
Whether or not the affair would lead other countries to believe Russia and the United States were moving toward more cordial relations was something which could not be assessed at once.
U.S. officials said they considered it logical that the Kremlin should try to persuade the Russian people in particular and the rest of the world in general that it acted out of humane and peace-loving motives.
The Soviet government could scarcely acknowledge that it made a direct trade for a man -- Abel -- whom it does not concede exists. The Russians have never acknowledged him and are not expected to do so now. Their Powers announcement Saturday contained no mention of him.