192. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Reagan1

Dear Mr. President,

The situation in Lebanon and in its capital—Beirut, in particular, is assuming an even more tragic character. The Israeli forces are engaged in blanket destruction of the Lebanese and the Palestinians—women, children and the elderly. Israel perpetrates in Beirut acts of sheer vandalism against the civilian population and destroys the vital functions of the city.

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No matter what political criteria you may apply to the events in Lebanon one perfectly obvious fact is undeniable—a barbaric destruction of people is taking place there by Israel which is in fact an ally of the U.S. Surely, no one will believe that Washington is allegedly unable to persuade Israel to end the bloodshed and to cease fire.

Through all of its actions, especially in the latest days and hours, the aggressor demonstrates that it cannot wait consummating its criminal acts, with no thought being given whatsoever to what new mountains of hatred it is creating around the Israeli state and the Jewish people. Indeed those mountains can crush on them in the future with all their weight.

Today, perhaps, even leaders with stone hearts cannot turn a deaf ear to the appeals of those who every day and every hour are dying in Beirut and in Lebanon by the hand of the Israeli invaders.

I wish to express the hope that at this critical moment in the events in Lebanon and around that country the sense of responsibility and common reason will, after all, prevail over calculations of expedient and momentary nature, and that the U.S. will do all in its power so that there be a cease-fire and the mission of the U.S. emissary in the Middle East stop serving as a screen for continuing the Israeli aggression.

If various plans come into being right now with regard to participation of some international forces in achieving separation between the forces defending West Beirut, on the one hand, and the Israeli troops, on the other, what is the reason for not using the U.N. military units which are already deployed on the Lebanese soil by a decision of the Security Council?

We are aware of your statement that you are prepared in principle to send a contingent of American forces to Lebanon.2 I must warn you that, if this actually takes place, the Soviet Union will conduct its policy taking this fact into account.

I expect that you will consider the matters raised in my present message with all due seriousness and urgency.


L. Brezhnev
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Brezhnev (8290425, 8290431, 8290480). No classification marking. A typewritten note at the top of the letter reads: “Unofficial translation.” Dobrynin delivered the text of the letter and the Soviet Embassy’s unofficial translation to Acting Secretary of State Stoessel on July 7. (Telegram 188302 to Moscow, July 8; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]) Bremer sent the letter to Clark under cover of a July 7 memorandum.
  2. Reference is to a July 6 press conference in Los Angeles where Reagan stated: “The Lebanese Government has not made a formal proposal, but I have agreed in principle to contribute a small contingent of U.S. personnel, subject to certain conditions.” (Public Papers: Reagan, 1982, vol. II, p. 899)