228. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Carter1

Dear Mr. President,

I and my colleagues have familiarized ourselves with your appeal.2

First of all, we must frankly inform you that we are extremely surprised at the active participation of the administration in the openly [Page 677] hostile campaign which is developing in the United States against the Soviet Union, for which the United States has absolutely no actual pretense and no legal basis. It occurs to us that the single result of the exaggeration of this artificially created campaign could turn out to cause appreciable damage to the relations between our countries and the cause of strengthening peace, the importance of which we talked about in Vienna. We regret that you still support the contrived version about the Soviet combat unit which is allegedly located in Cuba.

We advise you: give up this version. We have a military training center in Cuba, which has been there more than 17 years. It is fulfilling its training functions by an agreement with the Cuban government. It is doing that and can do nothing more. You can be completely assured in this matter.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in a conversation with A.A. Gromyko,3 himself declared that the Soviet Union did nothing contradictory to the 1962 agreement, and that the Soviet military personnel located in Cuba do not present any threat to the United States.

I repeat, there is a military training center in Cuba. It will exist. We do not intend to change its status as such a center, now or in the future. We are informing you about it in order to show good will, since this whole question is entirely a matter between two sovereign states—the Soviet Union and Cuba.

But if that which is occuring in the United States now concerning this question is an endeavor which is dictated by some other understandings, we can only express our regrets regarding this matter.

It seems to us that any other understandings should retreat before the importance of Soviet-American relations in which the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT–II)4 now holds a significant place.

Let us, Mr. President, proceed from the results of the exchange of opinions, which we had in Vienna and which I greatly value, on fundamental questions of Soviet-American relations and of peaceful policies.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 32, MOLINK: 10/78–1/80. Forwarded to Carter under letterhead of the White House Communications Agency, which classified the letter as Top Secret; Sensitive; Specat. Sent via the Moscow/Washington Emergency Communications Link (MOLINK). Printed from a version that does not bear Brezhnev’s signature.
  2. See Documents 226 and 227.
  3. Ibid.
  4. See footnote 4, Document 200.
  5. On October 1, Carter addressed the nation on the topics of the Soviet Brigade in Cuba and SALT. For the text of his speech, see Public Papers: Carter, 1979, Book II, pp. 1802–1806.