December 29, 1979
Excerpt from the Minutes of the CC CPSU Politburo Meeting, 'Reply to an appeal of President Carter about the issue of Afghanistan through the direct communications channel'
[CC CPSU letterhead]
To Cdes. Brezhnev, Kosygin, Andropov, Gromyko, Suslov, Ustinov, Ponomarev, and Zamyatin
Excerpt from Minutes No 177 of the CC CPSU Politburo meeting of 29 December 1979
[stamped vertically along the left margin: "Subject to return within 7 days to the CC CPSU (General Department, 1st Sector)]
Reply to an appeal of President Carter about the issue of Afghanistan through the direct communications channel
Approve the draft reply of Cde. L. I. Brezhnev on this issue (attached).
Send the reply through the Moscow Washington direct communications channel
Ref: Point 220 of Minutes No 177
Dear Mister President,
In reply to your message of 29 December I consider it necessary to say the following.
It is impossible to agree in any way with your assessment of what is going on right now in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. We have already given explanations about what is actually going on there based on the facts and also the reasons which caused us to favorably respond to the request of the government of Afghanistan to introduce a limited number of Soviet troops [very end of the paragraph faded] to the American side confidentially through the American ambassador in Moscow and to you personally.
The attempt made in your letter to cast doubt on the very fact of the request of the government of Afghanistan to send our troops to this country seems strange. I am forced to note that someone's comprehension or incomprehension of this fact or agreement or disagreement with it by no means determines the actual state of affairs. And it is as follows.
For almost two years the government of Afghanistan repeatedly turned to us with this request. Incidentally, one such request was sent to us on 26 December of this year. We, the Soviet Union, and the Afghan side, which sent us such requests know about this equally.
In connection with the content and the tone of your letter I consider it necessary to again explain that the request of the government of Afghanistan and the granting of this request by the Soviet Union are exclusively the business of the USSR and Afghanistan, who control their relations themselves by their own agreement and, of course, cannot permit any outside interference in these relations. They, like any UN member, have the right not only of individual but also of the collective self defense stipulated in Article 51 of the UN Charter which the USSR and US themselves formulated. And this has been approved by all UN members.
Of course, there is no basis for your statement that our actions in Afghanistan allegedly represent a threat to peace.
In light of all this, the immoderate tone of some of the wording of your message is striking. And to what purpose? Wouldn't it be better to assess the situation more quietly, keeping in mind the higher interests of peace and not putting the relations between our two countries in last priority?
As regards your "advice", we have already informed you and I again repeat here, that as soon as the reasons which prompted Afghanistan to make the request of the Soviet Union no longer exist we intend to completely withdraw Soviet military contingents from the territory of Afghanistan.
And here is our advice to you: the American side could make its own contribution to a halt in the armed invasion of the territory of Afghanistan from without.
I don't think that the work to create more stable and productive relations between the USSR and US could become useless if, of course, the American side does not want this. We don't want this. I think that this would also not be to the advantage of the United States of America itself. It is our conviction that it is a mutual matter how relations between the USSR and US develop. We think that they ought not to be subject to fluctuations under the influence of any outside factors or events.
In spite of the differences on a number of questions of world and European policy about which we both clearly know, the Soviet Union is an advocate of pursuing matters in the spirit of those agreements and documents which have been adopted by our countries in the interests of peace, equal cooperation, and international security.
29 December 1979
Soviet letter to US President Jimmy Carter responding to the US position on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The CC CPSU Politburo informs the White House that the Soviet leadership desires to maintain detente with the US and that the intervention of Soviet troops was done at the request of the Afgan leadership, under Article 51 of the UN charter.
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