178. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

50197. Subject: (S) Soviet response to Feb. 24 US Demarche on Situation in Indochina. Ref: State 46398.2

1. (S-entire text)

2. Following is text of Soviet oral note on situation in Indochina, transmitted by Dobrynin on March 1, which responds to Acting Secretary’s demarche to Dobrynin of Feb. 24 (reftel).

Begin text.

Moscow has carefully studied the communication of the US side transmitted by the Acting Secretary of State Christopher to the Soviet Ambassador in Washington on February 24.

We note the concern expressed by the US side in the communication about the prevailing situation in Indochina and its intention to act “in such a way as to minimize the risk of heightened tensions.” At the same time we do not see how the practical line of the US Government with regard to Chinese actions against Vietnam conforms to these statements.

No less than puzzling is the persistent desire of the US side to avoid a clear characterization and condemnation of the direct aggression by China against Vietnam. Instead of demanding immediate cessation of the aggression and unconditional withdrawal of the Chinese troops from Vietnam the United States continues to link the actions of Peking to the events of a completely different nature. Such a policy, under whatever disguise, is in fact aimed at absolving the aggressor, at helping the Peking leaders to get out of the unseemly situation in which they found themselves, having committed the criminal attack on Vietnam.

References by the US side to the fact that it appeals to China as well for restraint, in particular through the US Treasury Secretary who is now in Peking, do not change the substance of the matter. One cannot see results of those appeals. It is clear to us, and not only to us, for what US Ministers visit China.

[Page 527]

Indeed, now it is another thing that matters. China expands the scope of its invasion, resorting to the most barbarous methods, killing civil population—women, old people, children—in the parts of Vietnamese territory seized by it.

The more irrelevant and unacceptable to us is the raising by the US side of questions which are within the exclusive competence of two sovereign states—the Soviet Union and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam which are bound by the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. It is only they themselves who can and will determine, with due regard for the development of the situation, the nature and the scope of the assistance rendered by the Soviet Union to Vietnam in repelling the Chinese aggression.

The Soviet Union acts in the prevailing situation with full responsibility. And we expect that all who are really concerned about the consequences of the present aggression by Peking for the cause of peace will also act with full and clear sense of their responsibility.

We would like to hope that the US side would weigh all the circumstances with regard to the continuation and escalation of the Chinese aggression against Vietnam and would draw right conclusions. Only immediate cessation of the aggression by Peking and withdrawal of the Chinese troops from the Vietnamese territories can lead to the restoration of peace in that region.

End text.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 81, USSR, 3–4/77. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Shulman; cleared by Leo Wollemberg (S/S–O) and for information in EA; approved by Shulman.
  2. Telegram 46398, to Moscow and the Liaison Office in Beijing, February 25, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140–2564. The text of the démarche on the situation in Indochina transmitted in telegram 46398 is printed as an attachment to Document 175.