108. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1
3535. Subj: Soviet Protest re Bombing of Haiphong.
On half-hour notice I responded to summons of DepFonMin Kovalev to receive from him at 10:30 p.m. April 16 following protest:
As a result of the bombing and shelling of Haiphong in a raid by American aircraft on April 16, the Soviet merchant vessels Simferopol’, Boris Lavrenev, Samuil Marshak, and Selemdzha received damages, including numerous shell-holes, some of which were in the living quarters of the crews. The lives and safety of Soviet crewmen were threatened. There were dead and wounded among the workers of the port who were carrying out loading operations on the Soviet ships.
These gangster activities by American aircraft are flagrant violations of generally accepted norms of international law and of freedom of shipping. The US Government bears full responsibility for these provocative actions of the American armed forces and for the possible dangerous consequences of such activities.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR on instructions of the Soviet Government protests to the US Government this criminal act against Soviet merchant vessels in the port of Haiphong and insists that American authorities take strong measures to insure that similar provocations will not occur in the future. End text.
I replied I could not accept language of his message but I would transmit it to my government because of its important nature. He said statement corresponded to the facts.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 VIET S. Confidential; Niact; Immediate. Repeated to Saigon. Another copy is ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 493, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 10. Received at the White House at 2041Z (3:41 p.m., EST).↩