146. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1

Mr. President:

I have received your letter in which you inform me that Israel ceased fighting.2 The facts, however, testify that Israel continues drastically to ignore the ceasefire decision of the Security Council. Thus, it is brazenly challenging both the Soviet Union and the United States since it is our agreement with you which consititutes the basis of the Security Council decision.3 In short, Israel simply embarked on the road to defeat.

It continues to seize new and new territory. As you know, the Israeli forces have already fought their way into Suez. It is impossible to allow such to continue. Let us together, the Soviet Union and the United States urgently dispatch to Egypt Soviet and American military contigents, with their mission the implementation of the decision of the Security Council of August [October] 22 and 23 concerning the cessation of fire and of all military activities and also of the understanding with you on the guarantee of the implementation of the decisions of the Security Council.

It is necessary to adhere without delay. I will say it straight that if you find it impossible to act jointly with us in this matter, we should be faced with the necessity urgently to consider the question of taking appropriate steps unilaterally. We cannot allow arbitrariness on the part of Israel.

We have an understanding with you which we value highly—that is to act jointly. Let us implement this understanding on a concrete case in this complex situation. It will be a good example of our agreed actions in the interest of peace. We have no doubt that all those who are in favor of détente, of peace, of good relations between the Soviet Union [Page 609] and the United States will only welcome such joint action of ours. I will appreciate immediate and clear reply from you.4


L. Brezhnev5
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 69, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 20. No classification marking. A note on the letter indicates that it was received at 10 p.m. on October 24.
  2. Nixon’s October 24 letter to Brezhnev is ibid.
  3. A reference to Resolution 339, introduced in the Security Council by the United States and the Soviet Union, and adopted on October 23. The resolution referred to Resolution 338, confirmed an immediate cease-fire, and requested that UN observers be dispatched to the Middle East to supervise the cease-fire. See Yearbook of the United Nations, 1973, p. 213.
  4. Kissinger wrote in his memoirs that, although the Soviet proposal had to be rejected, the Soviet threat of unilateral action had to be taken seriously. As a result, an NSCJCS meeting convened late that evening and the President subsequently ordered the U.S. military to go to DefCon III, the highest stage of preparedness when attack is not imminent. For Kissinger’s description of the events, see Years of Upheaval, pp. 584, 588. For Moorer’s memorandum for the record of the late night meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXV, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1973, Document 269.
  5. Printed from a copy with this typed signature.