281. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Ford1

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to express to you some thoughts in connection with the situation which is evolving in Soviet-US relations.

I do not mean to address now specific questions which are the subject of negotiations between our countries. As is known, we have stated to you our views on questions related to the completion of working out the agreement on strategic arms limitation and now we await your answer to them.

At the present moment, as we see it, there is a necessity to discuss the state of affairs in the relations between our countries in a broader political context.

The Soviet-US relations have become recently a subject of acute polemics in the United States. We note that in the course of that debate your speeches, Mr. President—and we appreciate it—contain statements that are in principle in favour of the policy which has shaped up in relations between our countries due to our joint efforts. Life has already shown that this policy is correct and productive both from the viewpoint of interests of the peoples of our two countries and of promoting in general the reduction of tension in the world.

At the same time, let us be frank, much is said and done by the US leadership at present that cannot be regarded otherwise than something that runs contrary to that line. In many statements one can find one or two phrases in support of relaxation of tension. However they are somehow getting lost because the main message of those statements is essentially of a different direction. How else can one judge, for example, statements which are being repeated day after day, concerning “peace through strength”, “negotiations from the position of strength” etc. Statements of such kind—and they become ever more numerous in the course of time and obviously outweigh the statements in favour of the relaxation of tension—of course, cannot but damage the relations between the US and USSR. I do not mention the fact that our people also ask, which line in the US policy is the true and functioning one.

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And it is not only the words that matter. Suffice it to say of the steps by the US Government aimed at a sharp increase of the country’s military budget with the policy of the Soviet Union being simultaneously presented in a distorted light and non-existing expansionist designs are attributed to it. Various inventions are being spread from time to time about an alleged danger of an attack by the Soviet Union. And such things are said by politicians and not by authors of detective stories.

You, Mr. President, have, of course, noticed that so far we have reacted and continue to react with restraint to all that, being aware of the complexities of the internal situation in the United States particularly in connection with the ongoing election campaign in your country.

However, we are firmly convinced that some or other temporary features of the domestic political situation cannot serve as justification for jeopardizing everything of importance and value that has been achieved with great effort in Soviet-US relations.

It is important that what is being done with intention to get a certain momentary benefit should not have an adverse impact on Soviet-American relations, should not hamper solution of actually important and real problems before us. It is due to the objective reasons that both the Soviet Union and the United States are equally interested in the settlement of fundamental issues, and we have already agreed with you about that long time ago. And one cannot escape it anyway. There is no reasonable alternative to the policy of relaxation of tensions, which was recorded in the Soviet-US basic documents.

In our view, an approach of principle is required especially in present circumstances in order not to find oneself in an overpowering grip of inertia of political infighting which is in many respects determined by temporary, attendant circumstances.

In other words, we understand the situation this way: consistency as well as a weighed approach are needed in carrying out the mutually agreed policy so that no deterioration in the USUSSR relations is allowed, and those constructive things accumulated in these relations are not wasted, thus providing for the basis for onward development of these relations possibly even on a wider scale.

As for the Soviet side—quite recently I have already had an opportunity to reaffirm it—we are decidedly for the further improvement and deepening of our relations with the United States. This is why we are not indifferent to the polemics going on in the US around the Soviet-American relations.

We shall, as far as we can, contribute as before to the consolidation of the policy which corresponds to the interests of world stability, to positive development of relations between the USSR and the US. And [Page 1042] we would like to hope that on your part, Mr. President, and on the part of your Government a similar concern would be displayed for the fate of the relations between our countries.


L. Brezhnev2
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 29, USSR, The “D” File. No classification marking. According to marginalia, the letter was “hand carried by Vorontsov to Scowcroft—8:00 p.m. 4/16/76.”
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.