75. Letter From Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I consider it necessary to draw your attention to the matter of publication in the USA of materials known to you regarding the exit from the Soviet Union of a certain category of Soviet citizens.

I must say directly that the cited materials, including the correspondence between you and Senator Jackson,2 create a distorted presentation of our position and of what was said by us to the American side of this question.

Clarifying the real situation, we stressed that in itself this question relates entirely to the internal competence of our state. We told you beforehand in this connection that we have acted and will act exclusively in accordance with our present legislation on this subject.

But it is precisely this that has not been mentioned. At the same time, there are attempts to give our clarifications the nature of some kind of assurances if not obligations on our part concerning the exit procedures for Soviet citizens from the USSR. Certain figures are even given concerning the supposed number of such citizens. There is talk of an expected increase in this number in comparison with previous years.

We decisively reject such an interpretation. What we said—and you know this very well, Mr. Secretary—concerned only the actual situation on this question. And if, in informing you of the actual situation, the conversation turned to figures, then it was only about the reverse observed tendency toward a reduction in the number of persons wishing to leave the USSR for permanent residence in other countries.

We consider it important that in this whole matter, in view of its importance of principle, that there should not remain any lack of clarity with regard to the position of the Soviet Union.

A. Gromyko3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Soviet Union, Oct. 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The original signed letter in Russian is attached to this English translation. In his memoirs, Kissinger recalled: “The other shoe dropped the next morning, October 27. On the way to the airport, Gromyko handed me a letter dated the previous day. It was a strange document, written not on Foreign Ministry stationery but on plain brownish paper, almost as if it were a personal letter.” (Kissinger, Years of Renewal, p. 284)
  2. Documents 60 and 61.
  3. The translation bears this typed signature and an indication that the letter in Russian was signed.