145. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

1003. Tonight at Kremlin reception Zhukov told me flatly Soviet troops had been ordered withdrawn from Budapest. In view importance his statement I give his exact words, “the order has already been given for Soviet forces to leave the city.” He then added with gesture of impatience as if to say let them deal with it themselves.

This statement arose from my query to Zhukov concerning his assertion yesterday (Embtel 992)2 that there had been no firing by Soviet troops for last forty-eight hours, mentioning that on every Western radio broadcast there was story Soviet artillery fire in city. Zhukov denied this completely and then added statement given above concerning withdrawal troops from city. He did not mention anything about withdrawal from country, which yesterday he said privately to me and publicly, was matter for Warsaw Pact consideration.

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Before I could question him as to whether his statement meant that there was sufficient calm in city for Nagy to take over or whether Soviets were acting in accordance with Nagy’s request despite situation there, Molotov came up and intervened in conversation with question concerning Middle East, which will be reported in subsequent message.3

Only events will show accuracy Zhukov’s statement, but I can only report it was absolutely without qualification and in contradiction to his statement yesterday on subject reported reftel.

Soviet leaders including Khrushchev, Bulganin, Molotov, Kaganovich were noticeably more glum than yesterday and it is possible Zhukov’s statement represented an overnight shift in position based on some events in Hungary unknown to us here.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 761.13/10–3056. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. Document 138.
  3. Telegram 1004 from Moscow, October 30, reported Molotov’s conviction that the United States had been in “cahoots” with England and France and could have prevented the Israeli attack on Egypt. (Department of State, Central Files, 684A. 86/10–3056)