191. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • BrezhnevKissinger Conversation at Vnukovo Airport, July 1


  • USSR
  • L. I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
  • D. F. Ustinov, Member, Politburo
  • A. A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • V. V. Kuznetsov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • A. M. Aleksandrov, Assistant to General Secretary Brezhnev
  • G. M. Korniyenko, Director, USA Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Krokhalev, Interpreter
  • US
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Ambassador
  • Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department of State

As the group came in, Brezhnev shouted for tea to be brought and then pounded on the table to repeat the request. Kuznetsov told him the tea was coming, but Brezhnev, in a joking way, said: “All right, but it is necessary to show one’s power!”

Kissinger: (To Brezhnev, who was flanked by Sonnenfeldt and Scowcroft) If you take the advice of the people next to you, then everything will be OK.

Brezhnev: I thought before that Scowcroft would be big and fat like an ordinary General, but he turned out to be quite normal.

Kissinger: And he is a Mormon, also. He has many wives!

Brezhnev: That’s a good idea. (He hands the Secretary a box of chocolates for Mrs. Kissinger.)

Kissinger: Thank you very much. My wife is very unhappy not to be with me, but she was just released from the hospital.

Brezhnev: Well, you are known to be an exploiter.

Kissinger: Actually, I am glad I didn’t bring her. I don’t know what you would have given her.

[Page 948]

Brezhnev: Well, I would pay court to her. I saw how you looked at the girls on the beach!

Kissinger: You steered me in that direction!

Brezhnev: Now, Stoessel is a very modest man. I am sure he would look at the ocean and not the girls.

Kissinger: Stoessel worked all day in Moscow.

Brezhnev: Yesterday was a very hard day. We had some serious negotiations. How do you remember all of those figures?

Kissinger: I wanted to see what your figures would be to see if they were correct. I wondered how you arrived at the figure of 16,000. By counting every airplane we have and making unrealistic assumptions—which might theoretically be true—then it might be possible to arrive at this figure.

Brezhnev: Well, I wouldn’t want to count the toys of my granddaughter.

Kissinger: I repeat that it would be theoretically possible, but not realistic. You could count up to 12 or 13 thousand realistically.

Brezhnev: You know that not a single time during our May meetings (Note: He presumably meant March.) did I deceive you.

Kissinger: Right. I suppose that, if I were a Soviet military man, I would make the same calculation, but it shows the problem. Our military people count in the same way.

Brezhnev: President Nixon told me yesterday,2 and he repeated today, that even if you (Note: the Soviets) made concessions, ours would want even more. I speak seriously and with due respect for the difficulties.

Kissinger: I am serious, too. I repeat that the figures I gave you yesterday will produce an explosion in the United States. We probably could win the argument narrowly, but it wouldn’t mean very much.

Brezhnev: Well, if the United States blows up, then I’d be sorry.

Why don’t we go to Zavidovo? We could shoot something there. It is a good place.

Kissinger: It’s a very peaceful place.

Brezhnev: We fixed up the house especially for you there. It has 6 missiles under it.

Kissinger: I knew you were doing something there. Do the missiles have 3 or 6 warheads?

Brezhnev: Twenty! They are for the wild boars.

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(To Gromyko) How should we plan for our meeting this afternoon?

Gromyko: Well, I need to go to the dentist.

Brezhnev: How about 4 o’clock?

Gromyko: I could do that.

Brezhnev: (To the Secretary) The Crimea is a very good place. I don’t understand why you go to Acapulco.

Gromyko: Yes, and there are no sharks in the Crimea.

Brezhnev then talked privately to Gromyko and said there should be a short meeting in the Ministry of Defense at 2:30. Kosygin, Podgorny, Grechko, Andropov, Ustinov and Gromyko should be there. Then at 3 o’clock there would be a Politburo meeting.

The group left the room at 1:45 p.m.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 77, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Memcons, Moscow Summit, June 27–July 3, 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Stoessel. The meeting was held in the VIP Lounge at the Vnukovo Airport outside of Moscow.
  2. See Document 190.