72. Note From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1

Dear Mr. President:

I would like to express some further considerations in continuation of our correspondence, having in mind your letter of last February 152 and the conversation with our Ambassador in Washington on March 17.3

I and my colleagues likewise closely follow the course of preparation for the May meeting in Moscow as well as all the events attendant to that preparation.

Now, when the range of questions to be discussed at the meeting has, in the main, taken shape and we have agreed on the manner of their preparation, the principal thing is to elicit, through preliminary exchange of views on the substance of the questions, actual possibilities for reaching agreement on them. Such exchange of views on a number of questions is already under way.

Both in public statements and confidentially we repeatedly outlined our views and put forward certain specific proposals on problems concerning Europe. We understand the readiness expressed by you to a confidential exchange of opinion on this score, in such a way that in the course of the preparation for the meeting appropriate specific considerations will be expressed by the American side as well.

You, Mr. President, noted on a number of occasions the great significance of the quadripartite agreement on West Berlin. Such is our appraisal of that agreement, too. Its entry into force will indeed make a major step on the way to strengthening the détente and ensuring security in Europe. It is clear at the same time that the agreement on West Berlin is inseparable from other European problems and, above all, from the entry into force of the treaties of the Soviet Union and Poland with the FRG. We therefore believe it very important for all the participants of the quadripartite agreement on West Berlin, including the United States, to actively facilitate, with all the means at [Page 232]their disposal, completion of the ratification of the above treaties with West Germany.

I want to use this occasion to emphasize anew the positive significance of the fact that both the Soviet Union and the United States have worked hard enough to make their contribution to the attainment of the above agreement on West Berlin.

I and my colleagues attach special significance as you do, Mr. President, to the forthcoming discussion in Moscow on the questions of strategic arms limitation. We would like to hope that the discussion on those questions will be constructive and yield concrete positive results. Of course, this will require maximum joint efforts to be applied in the remaining period so as to find a mutually acceptable solution based on the principle of equal security for both sides.

I think it is quite realistic. Let us take a question on which a proximity of positions has already emerged—that of cessation, beginning from July 1, 1972, of new construction of silo launchers for land–based ICBMs. This would mean that for a specified period the sides would not increase the number of such launchers which each of them would have as of the date of the beginning of the “freeze”. The time–period to be established could be lengthier, namely—three years, while in the meantime, as agreed, further active negotiations would be pursued on strategic arms limitation. An agreement on such a “freeze” should not, of course, involve the possibility for modernization and replacement of appropriate weapons on which there already exists agreement between the two sides.

Conclusion of such an agreement on “freeze”, along with a treaty on limitation of anti–ballistic missile systems—and here our positions have drawn nearer as well—would be such an important step in the relations between our countries, that its significance can hardly be overestimated. That fact would undoubtedly make a profound favorable impact both in our countries and in the whole world.

As for the considerations transmitted by you with regard to fixing, on a temporary basis, appropriate levels concerning submarines with ballistic missiles, we are carefully studying those considerations with due account of all related factors, whose complexity, it seems, you also recognize, and we shall inform you of our opinion.

We hope to be able soon to let you know our more detailed considerations on the Middle East settlement elaborating on the basic scheme that was talked over with you last fall. We consider this problem very important both internationally and from the point of view of its impact on the relations directly between our countries. In the absence of its radical, and also without any delay, solution the danger in that area will not only persist but will increase. And with that danger there, our relations will, for understandable reasons, be subject to risk [Page 233]with insuing unpredictable consequences. It is clear that such a prospect would not be in the interests of either the United States, or the Soviet Union and would constantly overshadow the relations between them.

On the other hand, a speedy settlement of the Middle East conflict with active support by our two countries, would bring about a long–awaited peace to the peoples of that region, would remove a source of dangerous tension. Such a turn of affairs would have very favorable consequences for the Soviet–American relations as well.

In conclusion I would like to emphasize again the importance of a situation in which our talks are prepared and will be held in Moscow. On that, of course, in many respects will depend the results of the negotiations themselves. Making conditions most suitable for our meeting should in an equal degree be a concern of both sides. Therefore, I would like to tell you frankly, Mr. President, that continued bombings of the DRV—which, as I wrote to you in my previous letter, push the developments in Vietnam in a direction opposite to peaceful settlement—can only complicate the situation. We hope that you will weigh all aspects of this question.

Sincerely,

L. Brezhnev 4
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 493, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 10. No classification marking. A notation on the note reads: “Handed to K by D at 12:45 p.m., 3/28/72.” According to his schedule, Kissinger met with Dobrynin in the Map Room at the White House from 12:55 to 1:20 p.m. (Library of Congress, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule) No record of the meeting has been found.
  2. See Document 51.
  3. See Document 62.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.