89. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Ford1

SUBJECT

  • Soviets Spread Dangerous Misinformation; Points to Make with Brezhnev

During the past few days, we have had reports that the Soviets are spreading false and potentially dangerous misinformation concerning the Middle East situation and Cyprus.

—They told Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy that they had independent information of Israeli mobilization in preparation for an attack on either Syria or Lebanon, beginning November 15;

Dobrynin falsely told me that Egypt had given the Soviets reports about the next stage of Israeli withdrawals from the Sinai and the Soviet Ambassador in Cairo told the Egyptians falsely that I had told the Soviets about the next stage of Israeli withdrawals.

—They told Cypriot leader Clerides that they had information of an impending Turkish commando attack on the South of the island;

—We have an intercept that indicates that Gromyko sent word to the Syrians that the Israelis were planning an attack.

Dobrynin gave the Greek Ambassador in Washington a distorted version of the US position on Cyprus, including an allegation that we clearly favor the Turkish position and would confine ourselves to merely making friendly suggestions to Turkey.

Soviet allegations of supposedly impending Israeli military actions are particularly mischievous since they could easily trigger a chain of hasty Arab and Israeli military actions. (The Arab-Israeli war of 1967 began in large measure because of Soviet rumor-mongering.) The alle[Page 319]gation of Turkish invasion plans against Cyprus can only hinder the delicate political and diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis. Soviet misinformation concerning our role on Cyprus and on the next stage of Middle East diplomacy is obviously designed to compromise our efforts at mediation on both situations.

All the instances cited above—and there may be additional ones which we have not heard about—are contrary to the letter and spirit of our understandings with the Soviets concerning consultations on issues of mutual concern. While they may to a certain degree reflect Moscow’s frustration over its exclusion from diplomatic efforts in the areas involved, they are nevertheless disturbing and potentially quite dangerous. I believe you should draw Brezhnev’s attention to these occurrences and would suggest that you consider making the following points to him:

1. The United States has sought to remain in close touch with the Soviets on both the Cyprus and the Middle East crises; we have scrupulously lived up to our joint commitments to consult on matters of common concern.

2. We believe that it is particularly important to consult about information indicating that there may be a danger of hostilities in these explosive areas. It is especially important that neither of us disseminate unverified rumors about possible military actions since what we as great powers say inevitably is given important weight.

3. We are consequently deeply disturbed by highly reliable reports we have received of Soviet representatives alleging that Israeli military action against Syria or Lebanon is imminent and that a Turkish move against Cyprus is imminent.

4. Soviet concerns in these instances were never communicated to us and no opportunity was provided to exchange assessments and to consult, as stipulated in agreements signed at the summits of 1972 and 1973.

5. Furthermore, we have noted with regret that Soviet representatives have misrepresented our position with respect to a Cyprus settlement and have also incorrectly attributed to us information concerning next steps in Middle East settlement efforts. We can only interpret this as intended to discredit our position with the parties to the Cyprus dispute and with the parties to the Middle East conflict. This, too, is not in the spirit of our agreements.

6. Mr. Brezhnev should consider these matters carefully and should be clear that mutual confidence can only be maintained if consultation is a two-way street and if no efforts are made to undermine the position and credibility of the other side. We had thought this sort of thing was a thing of the past and would hope that Brezhnev personally will ensure that actions such as those cited above do not recur.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 27, USSR, The “D” File. Secret; Sensitive. Scowcroft wrote on the memorandum: “Pres has seen.”