246. Hotline Message From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1

Esteemed Mr. President:

Israel has flagrantly violated the Security Council decision on the cease fire in the Middle East. We in Moscow are shocked that the understanding which was reached only two days ago has in fact been ruptured by this action by the Israeli leaders. Why this treachery was allowed by Israel is more obvious to you.

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We see one possibility for correcting the situation and fulfilling the understanding . . . in forcing Israel to immediately obey the Security Council decision.2 We vouch for the Arabs, since the leaders of Egypt and Syria have stated that they will implicitly fulfill the Security Council decision.

We pledged with you, jointly as guarantor-countries, to ensure the fulfillment of the Security Council resolution. In this connection, we propose that the most decisive measures be taken without delay by the Soviet Union and the United States of America to stop the violations of the understanding reached and of the Security Council resolution based on [this understanding]. We would like to believe that on your part, on the part of the United States Government, everything will be done in order that the Security Council decision and our understanding with you will be implemented. Too much is at stake, not only as concerns the situation in the Middle East, but in our relations as well.

We will be grateful for a speedy response.3


L. Brezhnev4
  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]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Spec Cat; Eyes Only. A notation indicates that this is a translation of USSR 01, 231600Z October 1973. Brackets are in the original. In his memoirs, Kissinger wrote that he received this message at 12:36 p.m. (Years of Upheaval, p. 572)
  2. Kissinger recalled in his memoirs: “My assessment was that if a new cease-fire was all that was wanted, our task would be relatively easy; if an Israeli withdrawal was envisaged, we were in for a tempestuous time.” (Ibid., p. 572)
  3. At 1:10 p.m. on October 23, the President’s reply to Brezhnev was sent via the hotline. It reads: “I have just received your message regarding violations of the Security Council decision on the ceasefire in the Middle East. I want to assure you that we assume full responsibility to bring about a complete end of hostilities on the part of Israel. Our own information would indicate that the responsibility for the violation of the ceasefire belongs to the Egyptian side, but this is not the time to debate that particular issue. We have insisted with Israel that they take immediate steps to cease hostilities, and I urge that you take similar measures with respect to the Egyptian side. You and I have achieved an historic settlement over this past weekend and we will not permit it to be destroyed.” (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)
  4. The translation bears this typed signature.