110. Note From the Soviet Leadership to President Nixon 1


President Nixon and the U.S. Government are well aware of the USSR principled position with regard to the war being conducted by the United States in Vietnam.

On a number of occasions we called the attention of the President, including through the confidential channel, to serious consequences that an expansion of the U.S. military actions in Vietnam and bombings of the DRV’s territory in particular could entail.

In L.I. Brezhnev’s letter to President Nixon of March 27,2 outlining considerations in connection with the Soviet-American summit meeting, our concern was expressed that bombings of the DRV push the developments in Vietnam in a direction opposite to peaceful settlement and can only complicate the situation.

But instead of stopping such bombings and other military actions against the DRV, the United States began to extend them—now to the areas of Hanoi and Haiphong.

This step by the United States seriously complicates the situation and not only in the South-East Asia.

We cannot qualify the motives, with which the American side tries to somehow justify further expansion of the bombings of the DRV’s territory and to preserve a “free hand” in their resuming at any moment, otherwise but as clearly artificial and completely unacceptable.

But what’s going on? The American side would like to dictate the DRV its schedule of holding private meetings and the whole procedure of Paris talks in general. If the DRV, being an equal participant of the talks, makes its own proposals on that matter, Washington responds to this by intensifying the bombings.

Thus, first come ultimatum demands and threats, and later—their implementation. Application of such a method against a people who steadfastly struggle for many years for their rights, does not promise anything good to those resorting to such methods. We would like to say that with all frankness to President Nixon.

There is also another serious aspect here. As a result of the American air raids against Haiphong a damage was also caused to some of [Page 350] the Soviet ships in that port. Moreover, there are casualties on the Soviet ships—several persons were killed from among the Vietnamese workers. It should be absolutely clear to the President what all this means in the present circumstances. It also goes without saying that we shall be faced with the necessity of taking all appropriate steps to protect Soviet ships wherever they would be.

Taking into consideration the importance of all the circumstances arising in connection with the new bombings of the DRV’s territory, we address President Nixon with an urgent appeal not only to suspend those bombings but to put an end to them. Depending on the President’s reaction to this our appeal we shall determine our further line with regard to all abovementioned questions.

Contents of what Dr. Kissinger said during last talk with the Ambassador on April 15 is being brought to the attention of the DRV leadership.3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 493, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 10. Top Secret. The note is handwritten. A notation on the first page indicates that Vorontsov handed the note to Kennedy at the Soviet Embassy at 9:30 p.m.
  2. Document 72.
  3. See Document 104.