[Page 769]

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

Dear Mr. President:

President Sadat has just informed us that he requested you to take categorical measures for an unconditional cessation of hostilities by Israel, who in violation of all the decisions adopted by the Security Council is waging fierce battles against the Egyptian Third Army.

I must tell you that such actions by Israel jeopardize the interests of universal peace and are detrimental to the prestige of the Soviet Union and the United States of America as powers which have assumed definite obligations to restore peace in the Middle East.

We also know that President Sadat, in addition to his appeal to you to seek to obtain a cessation of hostilities from Israel, also requested that Egyptian aircraft, helicopters or other means of transportation be granted an opportunity to deliver non-military cargo unimpeded—cargo such as food supplies, medications, and blood for the wounded in the Third Egyptian Army, located on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal.

President Sadat has also informed us that your answer to him was that you will need several hours to take appropriate measures. Now, when I appeal to you, several hours have already passed. Unfortunately, however, we have information that the Egyptian President’s request has still not met with a favorable decision.

I must tell you frankly, that if the next few hours do not bring news that necessary measures have been taken to resolve the question raised by President Sadat, then we will have the most serious doubts regarding the intentions of the American side, concerning the understanding recently reached by us on an immediate cease fire, and also concerning a confidential portion pertaining to the normalization of the situation and the restoration of peace in the Middle East.

We still hope that at this difficult hour our responsibility for the outcome of all events will be discharged in the next few hours. We [Page 770]hope, in particular, that on your part, effective and immediate influence will be brought to bear on Israel concerning President Sadat’s request.

Now I want to touch on another matter, Mr. President. For two days, we have not reacted to your unexpected decision to bring United States armed forces, including those in Europe, to combat readiness.2

I have just completed my address at the World Peace Congress. In my speech, I decided not to touch upon the issue of your decision, which as is well known has attracted widespread attention throughout the world. I did not mention this because I had in mind discussing this question directly with you in a calm atmosphere. However, Israel’s continuing non-compliance with the Security Council’s decisions combined with the above mentioned actions, undertaken by the U.S.A, unwittingly suggests the idea that the measures undertaken on the part of the United States to influence Israel to immediately fulfill the Security Council’s resolutions are not only inadequate and ineffective, but, as is evident, enable Israel to continue its adventuristic actions.

I repeat that we are surprised by your order to bring U.S. armed forces to combat readiness. However, this step unquestionably does not promote a relaxation of international tension, and was by no means the result of any kind of actions by the Soviet Union, which would represent even the slightest violation on our part of the understanding reached with you. But we are faced with the fact and cannot but take this into consideration.

It seems to us that the measures taken were carried out as a means of pressure on the Soviet Union. There have been open comments on this in the American press and even at press conferences. But you yourself understand, that such calculations cannot intimidate us or shake our resolve to act in the spirit of unconditional compliance with all portions of the Security Council’s decisions.

Returning to the situation in the Middle East, I would like to stress, that it is our profound conviction that the immediate responsibility is the task of influencing Israel to force it to immediately fulfill the Security Council’s decisions, based on our understanding with you.

I also hope that President Sadat’s request to you will meet with a favorable decision and that your personnel, as well as the observer personnel, as determined by the Security Council’s decision, will within [Page 771]the next day be dispatched to [their] designated places to fulfill their functions.3

Respectfully,

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; Specat. Received in the White House Situation Room at 11:35 p.m. In his memoirs, Kissinger noted that this message started to arrive shortly after 9 p.m. (Years of Upheaval, p. 607)
  2. See Document 269.
  3. Brackets in the original. Kissinger spoke with Dinitz on the telephone at 9:40 p.m. to inform him of the contents of Brezhnev’s hotline message. Kissinger stated: “We have received a message which gives us another day. They [the Soviets] claim Sadat requested us to send non-military supplies. This they [the Soviets] did not do but they say within a day if this isn’t done they will take appropriate measures. I will now have to take it up with the President. I tell you now you can’t expect a repeat of the performance of the other night.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 23) Printed in Crisis, p. 391.
  4. The original bears this typed signature.