Newly Declassified Documents Show Why the U.S. and the Soviets Came Close to War in 1973

(New York Times) Sergey Radchenko - New documents collected and translated by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars show how the U.S. and the Soviet Union found themselves on a collision course in the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War in October 1973. On Oct. 24, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger received an alarming letter from the Soviet general secretary, Leonid Brezhnev, demanding that the Israelis, who had reclaimed the initiative on the battlefield after early Egyptian and Syrian gains, be reined in. Declassified documents reveal that America increased its security alert level in reaction to intelligence reports of a Soviet ship with nuclear cargo heading for the Egyptian port of Alexandria. We know today that Brezhnev asked the Politburo to consider additional measures, like parking a Soviet naval force off Tel Aviv, or allowing Egypt to strike deep inside Israel with Soviet-supplied rockets. The writer is a professor of international relations at Cardiff University.

2018-10-09 00:00:00

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