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162. Message From the Soviet Leadership to Secretary of State Kissinger1

It was received with surprise in Moscow what the Secretary of State said to the Soviet Ambassador concerning the reports about our messages to the leaders of some Arab states in connection with the renewal of hostilities in the Middle East.2

Whether we did not say on numerous occasions—both publically, including the statement of the Soviet Government of October 7,3 and in confidential contacts with the President—that we support the just struggle of the Arab peoples against Israeli aggression?

The President knows full well that we were not advocates of resumption of hostilities, but in the circumstances of a continuous occupation by Israel of the Arab lands it could have been expected at any moment, what we have also not once told the President.

And now, when it happened, when the war goes on, what shall we call for—may be for the support of the aggressor who seized and is keeping foreign lands during already six years, who ignores all the decisions of the United Nations and violates norms of the international law?

If Dr. Kissinger has touched upon this subject, then we can also ask—and with much more reason—isn’t there an abundance of the US statements—including those on the high level—in support of Israel who persists in its aggressive strivings?

Moreover, it is not only statements in political support of aggressor that we have in mind. How, for example, should we under[Page 452]stand the demonstrative movements of the US Sixth fleet these days in the eastern Mediterranean? And this is being done at a time when there is an exchange of views between the Soviet leadership and the President on the cessation of hostilities in the Middle East. But the US side itself did not say a word in contacts with us about the actions of its fleet.

We would like to reiterate that we have been and remain to be firm advocates of a political settlement in the Middle East, the main, basic condition of which is the liberation of all Arab territories occupied by Israel. Unfortunately despite all our efforts up to this moment there is no progress in this question. We have had a lot of talk on this subject between us, but as you know the whole thing did not progress beyond talking.

We continue to exert efforts to find common basis for effective steps in establishing a lasting and just peace in the Middle East.

We are of the opinion that with the degree of confidence which has been achieved between the Soviet leaders and the President, it is necessary to exercise a more weighed approach to the questions that arise.

As to the substance of our position on a cease-fire and on turning to active steps towards a political settlement in the Middle East, we have already informed the President on these aspects.4 We repeat that it would be very good if our countries acted jointly in this whole question until its complete solution.

  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. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed to HAK by D, 1:15 p.m., 10/12/73.”
  2. See footnote 6, Document 135. Kissinger raised the issue with Dobrynin on October 9 in telephone conversations at 11:29 a.m. and 12:32 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22) Telegram 12634 from Moscow, October 12, reported that during an October 10 meeting between Gromyko and five Arab Ambassadors, the Ambassadors had expressed Arab appreciation for Soviet support in the war. Gromyko had responded with two points: 1) the Middle East conflict was one that the Arab states had to prosecute themselves; and 2) it would be 2 to 3 days before any decisive turn would allow for meaningful UN action on the war. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 1174, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, 1973 Middle East War, 12 October 1973, File No. 7)
  3. The Soviet Government statement, issued on October 7, blamed Israeli expansionism for the conflict and asserted Soviet support for the Arab cause. See The New York Times, October 8, 1973.
  4. See Document 149.