128. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

4299. State 169715.2 When I discussed ABM3 with Kosygin he said important thing in this area was confidence and frankly indicated that Soviets had lost confidence in our word. In context of our discussion of Vietnam I had strong impression he considered our bombing close to Hanoi and Haiphong and our more recent escalation as breach of what they wrongly or rightly thought was our policy in Vietnam affair. There have been many indications from Soviets that they would sit still for almost anything we might do in South Vietnam but our bombing in the North was humiliating them particularly when we hit northern part of North Vietnam not directly related to invasion routes. In a recent conversation Yuri Zhukov4 referred to Soviet restraint but hinted this could not go on much longer and mentioned specifically pressure to send Soviet volunteers.

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While I think Soviets will go to great lengths to avoid direct involvement, actions such as sending volunteers, stirring up Korean affair or other bits of unpleasantness are real possibilities if we go much farther. Moreover since they are in my opinion genuinely convinced that bombing alone will not bring war to an end, they wonder if our purpose is not chiefly to demonstrate their impotence to protect one of their allies with consequent effects on their general policy toward US.

Believe my views on specific target alternatives are already on record. If we must do more in the North I would hope escalation could be confined to southern part of North Vietnam.

Thompson
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET. Secret; Flash; Nodis. Passed to the White House at 4:25 p.m.
  2. Dated April 6. (Ibid., ORG 7 U)
  3. Reference is to discussions regarding antiballistic missile systems.
  4. The principal international correspondent for the Soviet newspaper Pravda.