241. Message From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to Secretary of State Kissinger1

President Sadat has informed us that in the morning on the 23 of October Israeli forces in violation of the decision of the Security Council renewed firing on the West Coast of the Suez Canal and are moving into the southern direction. We would like to underline that Moscow has its own reliable information which proves that this is the fact and that the Israelis apparently decided to widen their bridgehead on the West Coast of the Canal. Thus Israel once again challenges the decision of the Security Council. This is absolutely unacceptable. All this looks like as a flagrant deceit on the part of the Israelis. We will express the confidence that the United States will use all the possibilities they have and its authority to bring the Israelis to order. It goes without saying that Israeli forces in this case should be withdrawn to the positions where they stayed during the acceptance of the ceasefire decision.2

President Sadat suggests that the Soviet Union and the United States agree among themselves about measures which would insure physical parting of Egyptian and Israeli forces with the help of the observers of the United Nations.

Sadat suggests in particular immediate use of the United Nations observers and first of all the personnel of the United Nations which was placed previously along side the Suez Canal and which is now in Cairo. [Page 677]That is our point of view, Brezhnev says, that it would be really wise to do so since the personnel of the United Nations, which is in Cairo now, need only appropriate orders and they could be immediately dispatched to the place of conflict.

We suggest that the Soviet Union and the United States urgently submit to the Security Council a draft of appropriate resolution to this effect. If the United States side agrees to that the draft could look like that and follows the text of the draft:

The Security Council referring to its resolution 338 of October 22, 1973,

(1) Confirms to its decision about immediate cessation of all fire and all military activity and demands that the forces of the sides should be withdrawn to the position where they were at the moment of the adoption of the decision on ceasefire.

(2) Suggests to the Secretary General of the United Nations to immediately take steps for immediate dispatch of the UN observers to supervise the observation of ceasefire between the forces of Israel and Egypt, using for that purpose first of all the personnel of the United Nations which is at present in Cairo.3

Mr. Brezhnev would like to underline to Secretary Kissinger the urgency of these matters.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 69, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 20, [October 12–November 21, 1973]. No classification marking. A note on the message states that it was read by Minister Vorontsov to Secretary Kissinger on the telephone at 10:40 a.m. on October 23. Vorontsov spoke to Kissinger on the telephone at 9:47 a.m. and gave him the substance of Brezhnev’s message. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23)
  2. On October 23, Ismail sent Kissinger a “very urgent” message that warned that Israel was exploiting the situation and developing its positions on the western side of the Suez Canal to create a new military situation. Therefore, the Egyptian Government requested that the U.S. Government formally and immediately intervene to bring an end to this development in accordance with its firm commitments and to restore the situation to what it was at the time of the cease-fire. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. VII, October 1–31, 1973)
  3. At 10:37 a.m., Kissinger and Vorontsov discussed the draft resolution. After Vorontsov asserted that the two sides agreed generally on the text, Kissinger countered that there were two things wrong with it. First, he had never been happy with the phrase “demands that the forces should be withdrawn to the position where they were at the moment.” The other problem was with the phrase “of the adoption of the decision on the cease-fire” since that meant moving further back than they were at the time the cease-fire went into effect. He stressed that the United States could not possibly go along with this since they had specifically said 12 hours after the decision. Vorontsov agreed that the Secretary had a point on the latter phrase, but not on the one calling for withdrawal to the positions where the forces had been when the first cease-fire went into effect. Kissinger pointed out that this would be impossible to enforce because no one would know where they were. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23)
  4. Following the reading of Brezhnev’s message, Kissinger suggested to Vorontsov that they delay the start of the Security Council meeting until 2 p.m., and repeated his suggestion that they delete the phrase “withdraw to the line they occupied” because it would lead to endless debate. He said he didn’t think anybody gained a hell of a lot. Vorontsov responded that obviously they had gained something or otherwise his side wouldn’t have raised this question. Kissinger noted that they would never agree on where the forces were the previous night so it didn’t make any difference. He said he would instruct Scali that the United States would agree to the resolution and that Vorontsov could inform Moscow. The United States would inform the Israelis and the Soviets would inform the Arabs. (Ibid., Anatoli[y] Dobrynin File, Box 28)