149. Message From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1

Acting in the spirit of an understanding reached with the President on this matter we were consulting during the last several days with the leaders of Egypt and Syria on the question of termination of hostilities which renewed in the Middle East.

Frankly speaking, the conversations with the Arabs were protracted and not easy ones. But nevertheless we are now able to say to the President that the Soviet Union is ready not to block adoption of a cease-fire resolution in the Security Council.

The President of course, understands that in the present situation the Soviet Union cannot vote in the Security Council in favour of a cease-fire resolution, but the main thing is that we will not vote against it; our representative will abstain during the vote.

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It was not easy for us to come to this decision. The determinant factor was that we are being guided in this matter by broad interests of the maintenance of peace, by the interests of maintaining and developing of all the positive which has taken place in the recent years in the Soviet-American relations and in the international situation as a whole.

We would like to draw the attention of the President to one more thing. It is necessary, of course, to limit the task at this moment to adoption of a cease-fire decision. If one begins to broaden this task, to attach to it all kinds of conditions—like withdrawal of the troops to the initial lines, creation of some fact-finding commission and so on,—then it will in advance doom to failure the good thing for the sake of which we have agreed to act jointly.

We mention this because the hints of such an approach were contained in the speech of the US representative in the Security Council. If such proposals were put forward, this would place us in a position where our representative will be forced to object and to vote against.

We hope that this will not be the case and that coordinated actions of the USSR and the US will facilitate the cease-fire in the Middle East and the immediate renewal of active efforts towards getting a political settlement there on the basis of liberation of all Arab lands occupied by Israel.

This would be really a one more major step in improvement of the whole international situation, toward which goal we have already put together with the President so much effort.

The Soviet representative in the Security Council is getting from us appropriate instruction.

We expect that the President will also instruct the US representative in the Security Council to act accordingly. We hope to see positive results of our joint efforts.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 19, [July 13, 1973–Oct. 11, 1973]. Top Secret. The message is attached to an October 10 note from Vorontsov to Scowcroft. A handwritten notation on Vorontsov’s note reads: “Delivered to Gen. S. from Min. Vorontsov, 11:15 a.m., 10/10/73.” Dobrynin telephoned Kissinger at 8:13 a.m. that morning and read to him Brezhnev’s message. Kissinger responded that the United States needed a few hours to consider it and that he would contact him later that day. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Anatoli[y] Dobrynin File, Box 28) Printed in Kissinger, Crisis, pp. 162–163.
  2. At 8:39 a.m., Kissinger called Dobrynin and said they would not have a chance for a systematic examination of the Soviet proposal until after 11:30 a.m. He added that the United States had noticed that there was a very substantial airlift of Soviet supplies going into Egypt and Syria and warned that this was going to force the United States to do at least as much. Dobrynin said that he would “flash” to Moscow on this. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Anatoli[y] Dobrynin File, Box 28) At 11:45 a.m., Kissinger telephoned Dobrynin and told him that a major domestic problem concerning Vice President Agnew was coming to a head that afternoon, which would further postpone a decision. He promised that Dobrynin would have a formal answer by the end of the day. (Ibid.) When Dobrynin called him at 9:45 p.m. that evening, however, Kissinger said that because of all of that day’s events, he would not be able to give him an answer until the next day. (Ibid.) All transcripts are printed in Kissinger, Crisis, pp. 163–169.