54. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

    • Soviet Note on Protective Reaction Raid2

Ambassador Dobrynin called on me Tuesday, November 243 to deliver a Soviet protest note on last weekend’s bombing of North Vietnam (copy attached at Tab A).4 Highlights of the note are as follows:

  • —The Soviets wish to state their attitude on the bombing raid in this confidential manner as well as condemning it publicly;
  • —No justification can change the “aggressive nature” of reconnaissance flights over a sovereign state, and bombing of that state when it lawfully tries to prevent such flights—such actions rather than bringing closely a peaceful settlement in Vietnam, “inevitably complicate the whole situation still further;”
  • —Aggressive U.S. actions against North Vietnam “entail more far-reaching consequences” in terms of their impact on the international situation generally and on Soviet-American relations; they are [Page 170] inconsistent with your words to Gromyko on the necessity “to do everything so that events in Vietnam may not cloud relations between our two countries;”5
  • —The Soviet leadership hopes you will view these considerations “with utmost seriousness.”

I told Dobrynin that I was sure that he did not expect a response from us to his note, and he confirmed this. Our very brief meeting adjourned without discussion of any other subjects.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. 3. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. Lord forwarded the memorandum to Kissinger on November 27 and noted: “This will also serve as a memcon of the meeting. In your memo to the President I did not include any comment on this note, which would seem to be routine.” (Ibid.)
  2. In the wake of the unsuccessful raid the previous day on Son Tay, the former North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp, the United States conducted an extensive air strike over North Vietnam on November 21 to protect American reconnaissance planes.
  3. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the meeting lasted from 12:20 to 12:35 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)
  4. Attached but not printed.
  5. See Document 23.