Title: Policy background.
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Title: Policy background.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00072554
Volume ID: VID00038
Source Institution: The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica
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Full Text























I Y BACK GROUND


THE SOVIET UNION ASSUMES COMBATANT ROLE


AGAINST ISRAEL



























EMBASSY OF ISRAEL
Waghington, D.C.
April 29, 1970


P 0 LI C


8 A K GR 0 N















THE SOVIET UNION ASSUmES COMBATANT ROLE
AGAINST ISRAEL



1. Since mid-April 1970, Soviet pilots based on Egyptian
airfields and flying Mig-21's have been carrying out combat
missions against Israeli. planes, with instructions to intercept
and engage them in battle. This development follows closely
upon the deployment of SA-III missiles manned by Soviet.personnel
and apparently protected by Soviet-operated anti-aircraft
batteries. This development is the culmination, for the present
at least, of a progression of escalatory steps undertaken by the
Soviet Union in which an increasing disposition is being dis-
played to assume direct combatant functions against Israel. As
such, the Soviet decision to despatch what are to all intents
and purposes regular units of the Soviet Airforce against Israel
is without precedent and parallel. Its significance and portent
are, frankly, alarming. It is too early, at this stage, to
establish the exact parameters of the Soviet involvement. What
is clear however, now, is that it is already tied to a directly
correlated escalation of offensive Egyptian actions on the
ground and in the air.


2. Record of Soviet Involvemtnt

The Soviet Union, up until recent Weeks, pressed its design
for the control of the middle East strictly by proxy. Exploiting
the Israel-Arab dispute ae the vehicle, it set about equipping
and training the principal Arab forces to carry out warfare against
Israel. It engaged at the same time in diplomatic maneuvers in
an attempt to isolate and corner Israel politically, this to the
accompaniment of a vigorous propaganda barrage directly aimed at
undermining and questioning the very integrity and morality of the
Jewish State. While Israel's dismemberment and eventual destruc-
tion may not have been the calculated Soviet goal, it might appear
from the direction things are moving now to be a bi-product Moscow
is prepared to countenance if its ambitions are advanced thereby.












POLICY BACKGROUND


3. The ruthlessness of Soviet policy unfolded in disastrous
dileansion in the Spring of 1967 when, by a series of calculated
machinations, it created the conditions for the outbreak of war.
Russia instigated its eruption by feeding Cairo with false
intelligence reports, created the pretext for the Egyptian
aggression, and provided the military tools that made it
possible.


Phased Escalation

4. The war lost, Russia immediately set about recouping its
looses. By shoring up Egypt's faltering aggressive posture
through an unprecedented airlift of weapons and technicians,
the Soviet Union snatched away the prospect of peace. It did
all in its power, militarily and politically, to deflect the
Israel-Arab conflict away from the peace table, back to the field
of battle. The airlift was followed by a systematic and speedy
rearming and retraining program of the Egyptian armed force so
that within 18 months they were already at a strength surpassing
that of 1967. Each phase of military rehabilitation was
accompanied by an escalating stage of military aggression until
a point was reached, in the Spring of 1969, when Nasser was in
a position to publicly abrogate the cease-fire and launch his
war of attrition.

Soviets Held Key to Attrition Policy

5. The Soviet Union alone made this phase of the war possible'
by guaranteeing the resources for its conduct. It was entirely
contingent on Soviet arsenals. The goal of attrition was in
Nesser'ts words., "to exhaust and bleed Israel." He launched hi.s
strategy in the sure knowledge that Russia would supply him with
all the resources needed to pursue it to the end, assuming that
Israel would be hard put to sustain the casualties on the battle-
line and to acquire the matching resources.


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April 29, 1970












POLICY BACKGROUND


6. Outnumbered in manpower and artillery, and in the face of
a growing casualty toll, Israel took to the one arena where it
enjoyed advantage, in skill if not in numbers, the air. Through
its measured air strikes Israel sought to reduce its losses,
scela down the fighting and restore the cease-fire. No less
important, it sought to eliminate the possibility of Egyptian
miscalculation and induce into the thinking of the Egyptiau 'High
Command the sober realism that the war of attrition as a pre-
liminary to mass invasion would lead to military disaster. This
was largely achieved and a point was reached when the prospect
of the restoration of the cease-fire appeared feasible. At this
critical juncture the Soviets once again waded in and undertook
steps and commitments calculated to prevent downoealing of hoe-
tilities and to restore the momentum of escalation. To achieve
this, they went beyond all previous parameters by assuming for
the first time direct combatant functions.

Direct Combatant Role

7.. At the beginning of 1970 a series of secret meeting were
held between Soviet and Egyptian leaders, the evidence being
that Nasser himself made a secret trip to meet with the Russians
in January. It was at these meetings that the new strategies,
which have begun to surface in recent weeks, were devised. First
came the SA-III missiles accompanied by a substantial contingent
of Soviet military personnel and unite to install and man them.
more than 20 are now operational. These highly sophisticated
systems are serving an offensive function in that they are an
umbrella for the renewal of the offensive strategy of attrition.

8. The introduction of the SA-III's was soon to be revealed as
but part of the new dimension of the Soviet involvement. yv mid
April, Soviet pilots were flying combat sorties and with this a
new ohase of Soviet strategy has unfolded. The balance of forces
has been shifted drastically and adversely aeginst Israel. Israel
today faces odds hitherto unknown.


April 29p 19:70


-3-













POLICY BACKGROUND -4- April 29, 1970


8. It remains an open question whether the Soviet Union
entertains thoughts of actively participating in explicit
frontal warfare against Israel. For one thing, it will surely
know that Israel will defend itself. The degree to which the
Soviet Union will be sobered and deterred from escalating its
involvement is contingent to a large extent on the degree Israel
will have the wherewithal to defend itself with effect. And
Israel's credibility in the Soviet eyes will be rendered that
much more powerful if it is to be augmented by worldwide
exposure and censure of the callous and ruthless nature of the
Soviet designs. The Soviet Union has to be made to cease and
desist.


Two Crucial Factore

9. Enough has been seen of Soviet policy to show that it is
calculated to prosper its own expansionist interests, not the
peace and welfare of the middle East. Its behaviour, military
and diplomatic, is conceived and measured to serve this goal.
The Soviet Union is propelled solely by considerations of self-
eggramiastment in the region, consistently undermining and
wrecking any prospect of relaxation of tensions and eventual
rapproachement.


10. We have reached a new crossroads in the Middle East. From
this point on the question is whether and how the Soviet Union
is to be checked from further escalating tensions in general,
and its direst involvement in particular. This will be deter-
mined by two factors: First, the military strength of democratic
Israel. Second, the rallying of the enlightened international
community against the emergent Soviet aggression.




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