241. Message From the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the United States1


The Soviet leaders, already for a prolonged time and not once, have drawn the attention of the President to a dangerous situation developing in the Hindostan peninsula as a result of the actions of the Pakistani government against the population of East Pakistan. While applying efforts to prevent an armed conflict between Pakistan and India, we at the same time were firmly convinced—and so frankly stated to the President—that of crucial importance in this matter would be a political settlement in East Pakistan on the basis of respect for the will of its population as clearly expressed in the December 1970 elections.

Although the American side did not object in principle to the approach above, we, it must be said frankly, did not receive the impression that the United States acted actively enough and precisely in the same direction that we were acting, i.e. towards removing the main source of tension in relations between Pakistan and India.


In the situation that has now developed—and now it has flared up into the armed conflict between Pakistan and India—the Soviet Union, as was stated in the TASS statement published December 5, comes out for the speediest ending of the bloodshed and for a political settlement in East Pakistan on the basis of respect for the lawful rights and interests of its people.

In accordance with the above the Soviet representative in the Security Council has been instructed to seek such a solution that would closely combine two questions: a proposal for an immediate cease-fire between Pakistan and India and a demand that the Government of Pakistan immediately recognize the will of the East Pakistani population as expressed in the December 1970 elections. The Soviet leaders express the hope that the President will give instructions to the U.S. representative in the Security Council to act in the same direction.

In view of all the circumstances which led to the present conflict, to demand a cease-fire without demanding, as an organic connection with that question, that the people of East Pakistan in the name of its elected representatives be given an opportunity to decide its destiny for them-selves,—would be both unrealistic and unjust with respect to that people, and would not eliminate the causes which led to the conflict.


As for your remarks, Mr. Kissinger, regarding a possible sharply negative impact that the events in the Hindostan could have on Soviet-American relations, this kind of approach is completely without motivation and, in our view, is at variance with the approach to the Soviet-American relations which has been expressed not once to us by the President himself.

Differences in the appraisal of specific events in the world as well as in the views between us regarding ways of settling corresponding questions may arise, and there is nothing unnatural in that. However, if in such cases, instead of business-like search for realistic solutions, to start talking about a “critical stage” or “watershed” in Soviet-American relations, it would hardly help finding such solutions, and would make it still harder to envisage that it will facilitate improvement of Soviet-American relations and their stability.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 497, Presidentʼs Trip Files, Exchange of Notes Between Dobrynin and Kissinger, Vol. 2. No classification marking. A handwritten note on the message indicates it was handed to Kissinger by Soviet Chargé Vorontsov at 11 p.m. on December 6. The message is neither addressed nor signed.
  2. Kissinger called President Nixon shortly after the Soviet message was received and reported that the Soviet leadership had “twitched a little bit.” He said the Soviet message proposed a Security Council resolution which called for a cease-fire and a cessation of hostilities, but made no provision for the withdrawal of troops. Kissinger viewed the references in the message to East Pakistan rather than Bangladesh as a positive sign. He characterized the proposed resolution as unacceptable but “at least a move.” Nixon said: “Just tell them, sorry, no withdrawal; no deal.” (Transcript of a telephone conversation, December 6, 10:55 p.m.; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)