140. Message From the Soviet Leadership to President Nixon 1
The Soviet leaders consider it necessary to draw in the most urgent way the attention of the President to the defiant, to put it straight, [Page 566] gangster-type actions of Israel, which, if they are not stopped from the very beginning, can still more complicate the situation in the Middle East and around it, which is dangerous even without such actions.
The matter is, first of all, about the barbaric bombings by the Israeli aviation of peaceful population centers in Syria and Egypt, Damascus including, as a result of which there are numerous casualties among civilian population.
There are also Soviet citizens among those killed and wounded. The damage was also caused to the Soviet office buildings.
We have the information, and we want the President also to know it, that the other side has a capability to deliver retaliatory strikes against Israeli cities, the action from which it has refrained up till now, if the bombings of the Arab cities by Israel are not immediately stopped.
Further. During the night from the 11th to the 12th of October in the Syrian port of Tartus torpedo boats attacked a Soviet merchant ship “Ilya Mechnikov” which delivered a peaceful cargo there. The ship caught fire and sank.
There is hardly a need to explain what can be the consequences of such provocative actions against the Soviet ships on their way to the ports of Arab countries. Tel-Aviv in this case also should realize absolutely clearly that it cannot expect that everything will go off all right for it. The Soviet Union will of course take measures which it will deem necessary to defend its ships and other means of transportation.
However we believe that such developments do not correspond to the interests of implementing our understanding with you to direct the events towards a cease-fire in the Middle East and towards activization of efforts on reaching a political settlement there. We expect therefore that the United States will exert an appropriate sobering influence on the Israeli leadership.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry A. Kissinger, 1973–1977, Lot 91 D 414, Box 1, Nodis Miscellaneous Docs., Tels., Etc., 1973–1977. Secret; Nodis. A note at the top of the page reads: “Handed to HAK by D 7:45 pm 10/12/73.”↩