111. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union and the Mission to the United Nations1

65851. Ref: Moscow 2099 and 2114.2

1. Further direct involvement of Soviets with pilots flying operational missions for UAR injects new element into question of how we should proceed in bilateral talks on Middle East with Soviets. Following are relevant considerations as we see them:

(A) Soviets, as you point out, seem unwilling or unable to make any meaningful concessions on settlement proposals at this stage. As result of steps they have taken to strengthen UAR air defenses and cautious Israeli reaction to date, they probably feel they have bought some time in terms of their relations with Nasser and of stabilizing military situation. It would appear reasonable to assume that they now want to see whether this development will have any effect on US and Israeli positions and that they meanwhile feel under no immediate pressure on diplomatic front.

(B) Sisco’s discussions in Middle East3 make it increasingly clear that two power exercise in some ways plays into Soviet hands in Arab world, since Soviets benefit not only from taking inflexible positions as protector of Arab rights, but also from distorting and using against us positions we take in bilateral talks in order to maintain firm negotiating stance vis-à-vis USSR.

(C) Above considerations suggest it would be undesirable at this stage for us to appear eager to increase pace or visibility of bilaterals. Present publicity re Soviet pilots reenforces this conclusion,4 since we [Page 367] would not want to create impression either publicly or vis-à-vis Soviets that we feel under pressure as result of this development to consider negotiating changes in our position in absence of prior concrete responses from Soviets on peace and negotiations language which we have told them we expect.

(D) For above reasons as well as ones you cite, we agree it would not be desirable for Sisco to go to Moscow. Furthermore, we would not want to send NEA expert since this could signal to Soviets that we are prepared to enter new phase in bilateral talks. On other hand, we do not want to give impression we are breaking off or suspending bilaterals. We believe we should, however, make clear we continue to feel that next move is up to Soviets. We must also make clear that their increasing military involvement is new factor in situation which cannot help but influence our judgment re their intentions on diplomatic front.

2. In light of foregoing considerations, you should seek early appointment with Vinogradov to make following points:

(A) We remain prepared to continue bilateral talks. We do not think, however, that question of where they are conducted or by whom is main issue at this time. So long as Dobrynin is away from Washington, you are available in Moscow. We can also talk to Vorontsov as necessary.

(B) As we have repeatedly said, we consider position reflected in October 28 and December 18 documents represent fair middle ground and are not prepared to depart from principles contained therein.5 While precise language in those documents is not immutable, we need to know where Soviets agree with it and where they do not. We particularly need to know if they accept preambular language on negotiations plus language on peace commitments. If they do not, then we need from them alternative language which we could consider. Precise responses from Soviets on these points would help us decide how we might most usefully proceed in bilaterals. We do not rule out procedure Vinogradov suggests at appropriate stage. Sisco tried to get Dobrynin to in effect do this in last two meetings by asking Dobrynin whether there were any other points in October 28 document to which Soviets objected. Sisco said it important to know what remaining points of difference there might be. Dobrynin refused to be drawn out.6 We are becoming increasingly concerned over Dobrynin’s lack of authority to go beyond a narrow brief. Meanwhile, so far as identifying points of [Page 368] agreement and disagreement is concerned, four power deputies in New York are now doing precisely that, and position being taken by Soviets far from encouraging.

(C) You should also make clear we will not agree to go back to June 69 document as basis.7 October 28 document is composite of June 69 Soviet document and US July 69 document8 and intended to reflect common positions. For example, Soviets have teased us with saying “agree to total withdrawal including Gaza and Jerusalem, and we will consider more detailed language on peace.” We heard that several times before from Dobrynin without result. Now in four power talks Soviets, even for description purposes alone, are not willing to accept a British/French formulation9 which falls short of our present point 2 formulation in October 28 document. This causes us to view with great doubt Soviet willingness to move towards us in a serious way on points dealing with peace and negotiations. Either they accept present formulation in October 28 document or provide us with alternative language to consider.10

(D) At same time we must make clear to Soviet Government that their operational involvement in military role in UAR has injected new element into situation. Secretary already stressed this point to Ambassador Dobrynin following introduction of SA–3s and Soviet personnel.11 Introduction of Soviet pilots flying operational missions [Page 369] makes this development even more serious and potentially dangerous. We hope Soviets have not misinterpreted our restraint in deferring decision on more aircraft for Israel.12 We regret they have not matched our restraint. We want again to make clear that we will do what is necessary to see that the military balance is not tipped against Israel.

(E) We realize that Soviets say their military actions in UAR are purely defensive. In our view, however, it is not possible to draw so clear a distinction between defensive and offensive actions. Fact is that what Soviets are doing facilitates more offensive UAR military action. We consider recent Soviet steps as serious move constituting deeper involvement and in direct opposition to USG efforts to promote peace settlement through limitation on arms shipments to the area and through observance of ceasefire. Among other things, they raise question whether Soviets have now reached limit of their involvement. To avoid any miscalculation, we consider it important to have an indication of Soviet intentions in this regard.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 712, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. VIII. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted on April 29 by Atherton, cleared by Sisco and Richardson and in IO and EUR, and approved by Rogers.
  2. In telegram 2099 from Moscow, April 27, Beam reported his conversation with Vinogradov, whom he described as “amiable and non-polemic.” Analyzing Vinogradov’s comments, Beam wrote: “I am not sanguine that the Soviets are ready to make concessions at this time, since their propaganda indicates they feel situation has stabilized following US arms decision and SA–3 delivery. Nevertheless I think it worthwhile to push them to produce the flexibility they have hinted at on peace and negotiations.” (Ibid., Box 711, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. VII) Telegram 2114 from Moscow, April 27, reported the conversation in further detail; see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970, Document 154.
  3. See Document 109.
  4. The Israeli Government issued a statement on April 29 asserting the presence of Soviet pilots flying operational missions in Egypt, concluding: “Israel will continue to defend itself against all aggression which violates the ceasefire arrangements and which aims at renewal of war in the area. In all its struggles Israel drew strength from its unity and from the justice of its cause. Israel will continue in its firm stand and in its quest for true and lasting peace.” For the text of the statement, see Israel’s Foreign Policy: Historical Documents, volumes 1–2, 1947–1974, Chapter XII, The War of Attrition and the Cease Fire, Document 14. It was also published in the New York Times, April 30, 1970, p. 8.
  5. See Documents 58 and 78.
  6. See Document 107.
  7. See Document 34.
  8. See footnote 4, Document 39.
  9. The British-French approach, as reported in telegram 637 from USUN, April 8, involved the Four Power Deputy Representatives producing a memorandum for Jarring (see Document 98) that developed “concrete formulations, rather general in nature and designed to encompass existing positions, of ‘common denominators’ on maximum points of agreement reached to date with statement of points on which disagreement remains included in separate section or sections.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR) The Soviet problems with this approach were reported in telegram 677 from USUN, April 16. (Ibid.) As of May 26, the Four-Power deputies had met 13 times “pursuant to their mandate,” but had “not yet completed work,” and, as a result, the Department concluded that absent a “major change in Soviet attitude,” any report that the deputies produced would be unlikely contain “anything very useful to Jarring attainable in foreseeable future.” (Telegram 1050 from USUN, May 26, and telegram 80274 to USUN, May 25; both ibid.)
  10. Beam met with Vinogradov on May 5, as reported in telegram 2288 from Moscow, May 5, and made the points requested by the Department, “sticking closely to Dept’s language.” The Deputy Foreign Minister responded that Beam’s comments “reflected great misinterpretation of events in ME” and that the “warnings” in his statement were “unnecessary and not at all justified.” He added that the blame that the United States had placed on the Soviet Union and the Arab states for the “continuation of unfortunate events” in the Middle East should be directed at the “Israeli aggressor” which was “unwilling to withdraw troops, implement SC res, or listen to any proposal which would lead to peaceful settlement.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 712, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. VIII)
  11. Rogers made this point to Dobrynin during a meeting on March 25. See footnote 5, Document 105.
  12. See Document 105.