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Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) ^ | September 2003 | Isabella Ginor

Posted on 05/06/2005 9:01:20 AM PDT by robowombat

Volume 7, No. 3 - September 2003



The Soviet warning to Egypt about supposed Israeli troop concentrations on the Syrian border in May 1967 has long been considered a blunder that precipitated a war which the USSR neither desired nor expected. New evidence from Soviet and other Warsaw Pact documents, as well as memoirs of contemporary actors, contradicts this accepted theory. The author demonstrates that this warning was deliberate disinformation, part of a plan approved at the highest level of Soviet leadership to elicit Egyptian action that would provoke an Israeli strike. Soviet military intervention against the "aggressor" was intended to follow and was prepared well in advance.

"The truth of anything at all doesn't lie in someone's account of it. It lies in all the small facts of the time." --Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time(1)

It is well-accepted in Middle Eastern historiography that the 1967 war's immediate trigger was disinformation fed by the Soviet Union to Egypt in May 1967 about massive reinforcements Israel was supposedly concentrating on its border with Syria. However, new and compelling evidence, including a hitherto secret speech delivered by Leonid Brezhnev shortly after the war, challenges the equally accepted notion that the USSR simply blundered into a war which Moscow neither desired nor expected. This evidence also casts doubt on the conclusion reached in the recent and definitive study of the conflict: "why, exactly, the Soviets acted as they did proved less important than the way the Egyptians reacted."(2)

Even the traditional version of these events could never explain why the USSR blundered or miscalculated. Both Middle East and Cold War historiography have been unable to explain the Soviet "hallucinations," as the Egyptian chief of staff termed the Soviet intelligence on the supposed Israeli reinforcements after inspecting the Syrian front.(3)

In order to reconcile this Soviet provocation with the accepted view that Moscow had no intention to precipitate a war, various theories have been proposed.(4) An especially noteworthy version was offered recently by Karen Brutents, a former CPSU Central Committee counsellor,(5) who claimed that Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Semyonov "couldn't control himself" and prematurely revealed yet-unconfirmed intelligence to visiting Egyptian Parliament Speaker Anwar Sadat.(6) According to previous accounts, the information was supposedly transmitted to Sadat at a much higher level by Supreme Soviet Chairman Nikolai V. Podgorny.(7)

Brutents's assertion of Semyonov's "slip" is but the latest example of continuing efforts even in post-Soviet Moscow to obscure the facts of, and responsibility for, the USSR's fateful move. There is no mention at all of the matter in the first Soviet official account of the 1967 crisis.(8) In other instances, it is claimed that Soviet intelligence actually did possess exact knowledge of Israeli intentions to wage war on Arab states(9) and even the supposed dates for this attack.(10) At the other extreme, one recent version quotes the head of the KGB's First Main Directorate (foreign intelligence), Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Sakharovski, as suggesting that Soviet intelligence doubted the accuracy of the information but decided it was their duty to share it with the Egyptians.(11)

The USSR and its satellites, however, were in fact much less conscientious about sharing accurate intelligence with their closest allies in the Arab world, including both Egypt and Syria. Some of their actual activity is revealed by a document discovered in the East German intelligence (Stasi) archives by the German historian Stefan Meining. This protocol of a KGB-Stasi meeting at the Soviet Council of Ministers between April 10 and 15, 1967 (with Sakharovski leading the Soviet delegation) delineates a complex program of "active measures" for 1967. It mandates the continuation of "Operation Marabu" aimed at "aggravation of tensions between West Germany and the Arab countries, in particular by [drawing attention to] the politico-military and economic cooperation of West Germany and Israel" by means of "manufactured documents" and rumors.(12) Some of these, as will be detailed below, may have had a direct connection to the May crisis. But overall, Marabu demonstrates conclusively that the Soviets systematically disinformed their Arab clients--which provides a plausible motivation for their persistent attempts to cover up the case that exposed this practice most dramatically.

In another extreme example of these cover-up efforts, American diplomat-historian Richard B. Parker was told during a visit to Moscow in September 1990 that the Soviet ambassador in Israel in 1967, Dmitri Chuvakhin, whom he wished to interview on his role in the crisis, had died.(13) Chuvakhin, however, was in fact alive enough to be interviewed subsequently by at least two journalists, including the present writer--although he contributed little to clarifying this affair.(14)

Brutents's attempt to blame the relaying of disinformation to Egypt on a slip of the tongue by a single official is blatantly inconsistent with the standard procedures of Soviet officialdom. If Semyonov had indeed been "notorious for scanning intelligence reports before such meetings [as with Sadat] and then retailing them as the latest gossip,"(15) and in this momentous case acted on his own initiative rather than on instructions from above, he would hardly have been included in the crucial talks with Egyptian Minister of War Shams Badran two weeks later.(16) He certainly would never have been trusted in 1968 with the most sensitive mission as head of the Soviet team to the SALT talks in Helsinki, which has been described by a Foreign Ministry veteran in the following terms: "never did such a high and representative Soviet delegation go abroad."(17)

These various attempts to belittle the warning given to Sadat also disregard the established fact that simultaneously with its transmission to him, the warning was hammered home to the Egyptians through two additional channels: by the Soviet intelligence "resident" in Cairo to Egyptian intelligence(18) and by the Soviet ambassador himself. In the early evening of May 12, a coded message from the Soviet Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow was intercepted "somewhere in Western Europe," stating that "today we passed on to the Egyptian authorities information concerning the massing of Israeli troops on the northern frontier for a surprise attack on Syria. We have advised the UAR government to take the necessary steps."(19)

As an Egyptian official who took notes during this meeting pointed out at a conference 25 years later, "it was not customary for the Soviet ambassador to deliver such reports… it never happened before, so why did the Soviets choose to act this way? Was it to confirm the seriousness of the situation and to leave no doubt that an Egyptian action is required?" This official, Salah Bassiouny, went on to relate how after meeting Ambassador Dmitri Pozhidayev, the Egyptian undersecretary of foreign affairs sent "an alarming report… based on the Soviet ambassador's repeating… that it should be seriously considered in the light of Syrian fears and the reported Israeli massing of ten to twenty brigades on the Syrian border." But, in line with the Soviet/Russian cover-up attempts described above, a Russian participant at the same conference reported that no evidence of such instructions to Pozhidayev had been found in the Foreign Ministry's archive. He added, correctly, that "without the decision of the Politburo, none of the ambassadors would have been allowed to pass it."(20)

It is therefore of the utmost significance that a document has now emerged showing the Politburo did adopt precisely such a resolution. In his memoirs, Brutents relates being summoned on June 5 to Communist Party headquarters. He was instructed to prepare a speech on the Middle Eastern crisis and newly erupted war for delivery by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev to the CPSU Central Committee.(21) Brutents added to the present writer: "I and one of my colleagues prepared the urgent plenum. We were called in the evening to Brezhnev and were told that in the morning we had to submit Brezhnev's speech to the plenum of the Central Committee."(22) The meeting was ultimately convened, however, only on June 20.

Brezhnev's speech was never published, but a typescript translation of its text was also discovered by Meining at the Stasi archives in Berlin. While this speech must be viewed cautiously as an apology for Brezhnev's own role and that of his colleagues, it does give away several crucial factual disclosures. One of these startling statements relates to the warning to Egypt:

In mid-May--and to this I want to draw your attention--reports reached us that Israel was intending to land a military blow on Syria and other Arab states. The Politburo resolved to bring this information to the attention of the governments of the UAR and Syria.(23)

This attribution to a Politburo resolution appears finally to negate the claim that the USSR simply stumbled into what was termed recently a "catalytic role" in precipitating the war.(24) The accepted practice in preparing "Politburo top-secret documents… never disclose[d] the authors of the proposals or how the decision was made."(25) The almost offhand mention of a Politburo resolution by Brezhnev seems aimed primarily to deflect responsibility for the resulting fiasco from himself personally and spread it over the collective body. But with most members of the Politburo present as he spoke, Brezhnev could hardly have invented a resolution that was never adopted.(26) Moreover, Brutents states that the draft he prepared for the speech was based on party documents supplied for the purpose.(27)

Brezhnev's assertion that it was the Politburo which resolved to inform Egypt and Syria of Israel's aggressive intent (he made no explicit reference to the supposed "troop concentrations") does not in itself rule out the possibility that the Soviet political leadership-- as distinct from the intelligence apparatus--believed the allegation. This version is still proposed by some Western analysts, resting on Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin's confirmation of the "troop concentrations" to Minister Badran during the latter's visit to Moscow on May 25-28 and Kosygin's repeating this allegation on June 19 at the UN General Assembly.(28)

However, even before Brezhnev's speech, there were indications from diplomatic spokesmen of the USSR and its allies that they knew the troop concentration story was untrue. As early as June 13, 1967, Bulgarian UN delegate Milko Tarabanov, "the loyal echo of [Soviet Ambassador Nikolai] Fedorenko," asserted at the UN Security Council: "The question of concentration of forces being true or not does not matter at all, as it is known that Israel is able to mobilize within 24 hours."(29) This extraordinary equation of potentiality with fact in order to justify a lie was still maintained recently by a former Soviet official: " well organised… so for them to mobilise the reserve is a matter of 24 hours, not more...their army had always been... prepared both for defense and for attack."(30)

But did the Soviet leadership believe the veracity of its warning when it was given to the Egyptians in mid-May? Brutents hinted to the present writer that Soviet intelligence may have foisted fabrications on the political leadership: "Neither you nor I can guarantee that intelligence does not do some things. In my opinion they are capable of anything…. And they have closely guarded secrets which they do not disclose to anyone, even…to their governments."(31) The sheer numbers of Israeli troops supposedly concentrated on the Syrian border--11 to 13 brigades, above the strength of Israel's entire standing army--do seem designed more to impress party leaders, who held Soviet concepts of military scale, than to conform with Middle Eastern realities.(32)

However, it seems improbable that either the KGB or its bitter rival the GRU (military intelligence) could have submitted such false information separately to the Soviet leadership, as each would only have been glad to disprove the other. In view of the disastrous results, collusion of both agencies in this venture without the blessing of a ranking patron would certainly have been punished. In reality, both KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov and Defence Minister Andrei Grechko were promoted to Politburo candidate-membership status near the end of June 1967-- that is, not only following this incident but also after its outcome had become apparent. It might be argued that both of them were fresh appointees to their positions (Grechko in mid-April and Andropov on May 19), and so could not be blamed for the misdeeds of their predecessors. Indeed, Grechko tried to lay the blame for overevaluation of the Egyptian army's preparedness on the previous Defence Minister, Rodion Malinovski, who had died on March 31.(33)

But Grechko (whose official title was then First Deputy Minister of Defense and Commander-in-Chief of Warsaw Pact Forces) is recorded to have assumed, informally but effectively, the duties of the ailing Malinovsky by November 1966.(34) Andropov, as a Secretary of the Central Committee, functioned as "curator" of the KGB for at least a year before Brezhnev exploited the defection to the West of Stalin's daughter to remove the mistrusted Vladimir Semichastny from formal leadership of the agency.(35) Both new nominees--Grechko and Andropov--as well as Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, were or became personal friends of Brezhnev and all three were elevated later to full membership of the Politburo. Given this background, it appears highly unlikely that Brezhnev was misled by his own proteges, and it is much more probable that he was a participant rather than a victim of this scheme.

In the search for some substantive base for the Soviet warning, some have depicted it as an extrapolation from a supposedly aggressive statement toward Syria--the threat of a "lightning strike" to "occupy Damascus [and] overthrow the regime there"--attributed to Israeli Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin. Nasser, speaking on May 22 to the troops he had moved into Sinai, referred to "a very impertinent" threat made in Israel on May 12, after which "one simply cannot remain silent."(36) No published text exists for any such Israeli statement, which would have been made around Independence Day when every word spoken by a politician is carefully covered, and Rabin vehemently denied ever making it. Its dissemination has been attributed to a misquote by United Press International from an Israeli Defense Force press briefing on May 11.(37)

However, a different provenance for Rabin's "threat" is now suggested by one of the "active measures" agreed upon by the KGB and Stasi, and confirmed a month before the May crisis as one of the elements comprising Operation Marabu:

…the KGB will undertake measures in Arab countries (UAR, Algeria, Yemen, Iraq, Syria), around documents manufactured by the [Stasi] and verbal information, exposing the policy of West Germany and the USA against these countries and the common actions of West Germany and Israel against Arab interests, aimed at launching a government crisis [Regierungskriese] of Arab countries.(38)

In any event, the purported causal connection between this alleged Israeli verbal threat and the Soviet warning has been definitively contradicted by the posthumously published memoirs of Yevgeni Pyrlin, who at the time was a senior member of the Egyptian desk in the Soviet Foreign Ministry. Pyrlin confirms, for the first time in print, that the information on Israeli troop concentration on the border with Syria was passed to Sadat by Semyonov already on May 12--not May 13 as conventionally accepted.(39) The newly disclosed Politburo decision--for which Brezhnev gave no exact date--must have preceded this, and therefore could not have resulted from Israel's purported threat. Moreover, there is an account of preparations already being made on May 11 by the Soviet Embassy in Cairo (undoubtedly on directions from Moscow) for an "unavoidable" war between Egypt and Israel.(40)

The very fact that the decision to alert Egypt was brought before the Politburo for final approval means that it was considered a matter of major strategic planning. "By the Politburo's mandate and its established practice," according to an insider's description, "it made decisions only on important, large scale military actions."(41) But was this Politburo resolution taken with full understanding that it would cause a war, indeed with the intent to achieve such a result? Considering the nature and extent of the military preparations undertaken by the USSR well before it triggered the crisis, and that are now coming to light from a wide variety of contemporary witnesses, there can be little question that this was indeed the case.(42)

In his memoir, Pyrlin still tried to downplay the significance of this Soviet move: "The military tension in the Middle East was growing every day in geometric progression and our information, which was passed among other confidential messages to the Egyptian President, was an ordinary message, one of many dozens of communications that were passed then."(43) But this description is contradicted by Pyrlin's own statement to BBC researchers who in 1997 were preparing a documentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict: "In the presence of the translator, he [Semyonov] told it not for the personal information of Sadat, it was rather to be transformed [transmitted] to Nasser. Relative steps were supposed to be taken by the Egyptian side."(44)

In Sadat's judgment, Semyonov's information about "ten Israeli brigades… concentrating on the Syrian border" was urgent enough for him to rush, upon return to Cairo shortly after midnight on May 13, straight from the airport to Nasser‘s residence in order to report. But he found the president already closeted with Abd al-Hakim Amer, vice-president and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces. Sadat then "realized that the Soviet Union had informed Nasser of this" through other channels as well.(45)

The Soviet warning was thus calculated to produce a specific result, and every precaution was taken to ensure that Egypt followed up with the "relative" or "necessary" steps that the Soviet leadership "advised" and expected. Egyptian diplomat Bassiouny appeared to be glossing over this when he stated, "The fact is that the report was presented to us, whether with instructions or not."(46) As Brezhnev's speech confirms: "They [the governments of UAR and Syria] informed us immediately that they were taking the necessary steps in the military sphere, and their forces were being put on full combat alert."(47) The recent official Russian history states unequivocally that "the Soviet leadership also knew about the war being prepared."(48)

Pyrlin states that three weeks before the war "…several people of the [Foreign] Ministry…were addressed…not with a request but with the order, instruction to prepare…a document which would evaluate the war [between Israel and Egypt] as if it had happened, as if the war were over." Such a report could be ordered only by the party leadership. Its "unanimous" opinion, which according to Pyrlin was shared by the KGB and the military headquarters, was "that the war would end up without anybody winning"(49)--indicating that even a limited Soviet intervention could tip the balance in favor of the Arab side.

Brezhnev did not elaborate in his speech what measures the Soviet leadership "advised" or expected from Egypt and Syria. As it happened, Egypt took three steps: on May 14, its forces started to pour into Sinai; on May 16, the UN force was asked to leave its positions along the border; and on May 22, Nasser declared a blockade on Israeli shipping through the Straits of Tiran.

In his speech, Brezhnev ignored the first move; in relation to the latter two, he took care to disclaim any Soviet collusion:

I have to say that the government of UAR took a series of steps which were not thought out till the end. As a complete surprise for us, UAR government demanded on May 19 the withdrawal of UN forces from the armistice line. The UAR government did not consult with us on this momentous step, which in the developing situation could have been understood as a step toward its escalation….[On May 23] President Nasser explained to us through the Soviet ambassador that the situation in the Middle East had improved as a result of the determined steps that were taken by the UAR leadership. At this time he also informed the ambassador, as a fait accompli, that the UAR government has closed the Aqaba Gulf to Israeli ships and to ships of other countries carrying strategic materiel to Israel. Again, no prior information was given to the Soviet government for this important action, which caused serious results.(50)

But were Egypt's initial responses to the Soviet warning [moving forces into Sinai, removing the UN force and closing the Straits] actually planned by or coordinated with Moscow? The leading contemporary Western analyses found "the evidence is conflicting."(51) The Soviet reaction to those steps caused a U.S. diplomat to remark on May 26: "It almost seemed as though the Soviet Union had been aware in advance of the coming Near Eastern crisis, since Brezhnev had first called for the withdrawal of the Sixth Fleet [from the Mediterranean] on April 24."(52) The American ambassador in Moscow reported asking a "well-informed" Soviet source "point blank whether Soviets knew in advance of Egyptian action in closing [the] Gulf of Aqaba. He was obviously embarrassed…and after a long pause said he thought Nasser had acted on his own."(53)

An anonymous Soviet diplomat, speaking with Le Nouvel Observateur in "early July" [1967], admitted some collusion: "President Nasser stationed the Egyptian Army on the Sinai-Israeli frontier in agreement with the Soviet Union, in order to prevent an Israeli attack on Syria. The other two serious decisions however--to demand the evacuation of the UN Forces and to close the Sraits--Nasser took on his own and only told us about them afterwards."(54)

Russian sources remain extremely reticent on the question to this day. "The Soviet leadership did not react in any way to Egypt's steps to close Aqaba and Tiran, apparently, not wishing to ‘annoy Nasser,'" wrote Pyrlin in his memoir. Interestingly, he cited legalistic arguments--including Israeli trade statistics--which the Soviets apparently had at the ready immediately upon Nasser's announcement, in order to prove that closure of the Straits could not constitute a legitimate casus belli for Israel. Nonetheless, Pyrlin contends the USSR might have dissuaded Nasser had it been consulted.(55)

Earlier, former Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Korniyenko, who at the time was a senior member of the U.S. desk, gave rather conflicting explanations. On the one hand, he claimed, "no consultations took place between Cairo and Moscow about the withdrawal of UN forces, about the Strait of Tiran, and so on" and attributed the lack of Soviet objection to the UN force's removal to "the situation…developing too fast for our [Soviet] bureaucratic machine to react properly." On the other hand, he cited "ideological, political considerations" of "solidarity… in general and not on this particular question."(56) Soviet collusion with Egypt's initial steps is indicated, however, by the fact that Nasser did deem it nessessary to obtain Soviet approval (through Minister Badran's mission to the Kremlin on May 25-28) only for the further escalation of a pre-emptive strike against Israel.

A plan including two of the initial Egyptian measures (removal of UNEF and closure of the Straits) was wired to Nasser by Marshal Amer from a visit in Pakistan in early December 1966.(57) The three leaders of this delegation to Pakistan--Amer, Badran and intelligence chief Salah Nasr--arrived there one week after talks in Moscow with the Soviet military command headed by Grechko. Indeed as far back as 1975, the Israeli regional expert Avraham Ben-Tzur, in a brilliant analysis of Arab and Soviet documents and press reports, concluded that even if this plan was not directly suggested by Grechko to his Egyptian guests, he "provided the inspiration" for its inception.(58) By April 18, according to a CIA report, Nasser himself was telling a senior Egyptian diplomat of his own desire to get UNEF out of Sinai and close the Straits.(59)

While Ben-Tzur makes a persuasive case for Grechko's original authorship of the "Amer Plan," its promotion appears to have been adopted as Politburo policy well before the mid-May decision to trigger its implementation. When the Soviet foreign minister paid an unexpected visit to Cairo during the last week of March, "The only concrete detail leaked out in the Cairo press was that Gromyko would also discuss the problems of the UN peace-keeping force in Gaza."(60) However, at the height of the crisis, the third-ranking official of the Egyptian Embassy in Moscow confided to an American counterpart that "the purpose [of] Gromyko's visit to Cairo" was to give Nasser a "larger commitment than anyone…had realized…[the] absence of Soviet public endorsement of UAR position on Aqaba [is] not important because Soviets [are] supporting UAR ‘in other ways.'"(61)

According to one of his subordinates at the time, "Gromyko did not resolve a single tiny question: he would not fulfill a decision or make up his mind without getting the approval of the Politburo first."(62) Gromyko indeed told the Egyptians "that he came, not in his capacity as minister of foreign affairs, but as candidate member of the Politburo.…Soviet relations with Egypt were regarded as so important that they remained the concern of the Politburo."(63)

The next ranking CPSU official to visit Egypt (April 11-26) was Moscow city party boss Nikolai G. Yegorychev, who came as the guest of the Arab Socialist Union (ASU), Nasser's political party. The formal host was Yegorychev's counterpart as head of the ASU in Cairo, who was also Nasser's chief of staff. In a recent interview with the present writer, Yegorychev declined to discuss the content of a confidential document which he subsequently presented to the Central Committee. He denied later reports that he endorsed direct military support for Egypt or Syria during the war.(64) But it is noteworthy that Nasser pointed out on May 26: "I was authorized by the Arab Socialist Union's Higher Executive to implement this plan [moving forces into Sinai, removing UNEF and closing the Straits] at the right time. The right time came when Syria was threatened with aggression."(65) Yegorychev was sacked following the June session of the Central Committee, where he "infringed on the General Secretary's personal bailiwick" by asking whether the defeat of the USSR's Arab allies did not cast doubt on its capability to defend its own territory.(66)

Brezhnev's speech confirms that following the Egyptian moves, "in the United Nations we did everything that depended on us, comrades, to lessen the pressure of the Western superpowers on the UAR in connection with the question of the free passage in the Aqaba Gulf and in order to frustrate the plans for military provocation against UAR."(67)

Indeed, at the UN Fedorenko so diligently stalled proposals to lift the blockade (even to convene the Security Council) that his Canadian and Danish colleagues told him they had "A nasty feeling [that the] USSR [was] playing [a] game of allowing crisis to build to force Israel to act."(68)

This appears, however, to have been the limit of prior coordination with Egypt, and it was almost disrupted on May 25 when Badran arrived in Moscow to seek consent for an Egyptian first strike against Israel. In his Central Committee speech a month later, Brezhnev described Badran's mission as limited to a "request of military assistance that was sent by the UAR leadership to the Central Committee;" this request to bring forward military supplies scheduled for 1968-69 was accepted, with delivery dates set to begin in June.(69) But a participant at the actual talks, Pavel Akopov, an Egyptian desk officer at the Soviet Foreign Ministry, denied this: "As far as the Egyptians requests to increase the armament supplies for the Egyptian army, at the talks where I was present this matter was not raised." According to his account, Badran addressed "the Soviet leadership with their [Nasser's] request to approve of pre-emptive measures… early strikes to prevent Israel from being the first [to attack]." The exchange continued for another two days of "sharp" conversation until "apparently he [Nasser] accepted the argument of the Soviet leadership."(70)

Brezhnev stated in his speech that on May 26 the Soviet government sent Nasser a message "which spoke of the necessity ‘to do everything possible in order to prevent military conflict.'"(71) This must refer to the talks with Badran, which were subsequently portrayed by Soviet spokesmen as an attempt to dissuade the Egyptians from any military action. Brutents, for example, told the present writer: "Kosygin was saying ‘Nyet' to him…these talks ended with a ‘sour reaction' of Badran. He received an instruction from Nasser…:If our Soviet friends do not support us, if they oppose, we do not have a choice."(72)

But Brezhnev did note that upon receiving the message Nasser expressed full aggreement with the Soviet considerations it outlined, and "stated to our ambassador… that the UAR never will start first the armed conflict."(73) This position was confirmed by Nasser on May 31 or June 1 to President Johnson's special envoy to Cairo, Robert B. Anderson, former secretary of the treasury, by stating that "he would wait until the Israelis had moved."(74)

Describing the talks with Badran, Akopov adds: "the first thing he [Kosygin] marked and sounded from the very beginning without any diplomatic mannerism, that we, the Soviet Union, cannot give you our consent for your pre-emptive strikes against Israel. This would contradict our policy and our position. Should you be first to attack, you will be aggressors, and once you are aggressors…we cannot support you."(75) The recent official Russian military history confirms that the Arab attack was, at Soviet behest, not cancelled but only restored to its original design as a counterstrike:

The Arabs planned to open the offensive first but because of some difference of opinion within their leadership (and perhaps the Soviet warning had its effect), the date for the beginning of the ‘decisive actions' was postponed…. Soviet experts were of opinion that in the impending war…an important role will be played also by who will appear as direct initiator of the offensive.(76)

Akopov notes: "Kosygin probably has reported it to the Politburo…because it was a question of war and peace and our involvement, naturally it was discussed at the Politburo."(77) While the talks with Badran were in progress, Kosygin sent messages to the leaders of the United States and Britain, which must have been approved at Politburo level, assuring them that the measures taken by Arab states were "of a defensive nature" but warning that "if Israel commits aggression and military action begins then we would render assistance to…the victims."(78) In his speech, Brezhnev mentioned only "the Soviet message from May 26 to [Israeli] Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that included a warning to the Israeli government not to increase the tension and not to escalate the situation to the point of letting the arms speak"--an expression apparently used in the Politburo discussion as it is virtually identical with that used in Kosygin's letters to the Western leaders.(79)

At 2:10am on May 27, Chuvakhin woke up Eshkol and handed him Kosygin's message--reiterating also the original Soviet allegation: "I urged Eshkol to stop the escalation, stop the concentration [of forces] on the Syrian border and start negotiations with Arab states."(80) In reply, Eshkol offered to meet the Soviet leadership, but this--according to Pyrlin--"was left unnoticed." Pyrlin explains that the Soviet leadership needed approval from Nasser for meeting the Israeli prime minister,(81) which in itself suggests very close coordination between Soviet and Egyptian leaders, who "during past year… maintained direct dialogue… and handled some business directly."(82) But more significantly, Pyrlin says that Foreign Ministry officialdom did not dare "to push the leadership towards some constructive solution or response. We could have received a reproach for that but…the absence of a reply is a reply itself."(83)

The Soviet bureaucracy was thus under the impression that the leadership desired to precipitate a crisis, not to prevent it. This was also the reading of the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, who cabled on the final day of Badran's mission, based on a warning from the Egyptian Embassy's political counselor: "[The] Soviet objective is to transform Arab-Israeli struggle into [a] showdown between Communists and anti-Communists for control of Middle East, and [the] Soviets are succeeding. If Nasser wins this one, monarchies and Western oil interests will go."(84)

Years later, Pyrlin confirmed that this was exactly the USSR's strategic aspiration: "it was possible to hope and to count on the fact that the distribution of political forces on the Middle East would be considerably changed due to this war, and that events will take place similar to post-1956 events when the whole chain of revolutions took place in the Arab world, and a number of regimes which were pro-Western were replaced by nationalistic regimes…."(85)

The determining test of the Soviet leadership's intentions must remain in the facts of its preparation for military action. Pending the unlikely declassification of the directly relevant Soviet documents, the full scope and content of the Soviet operational plan can only be approximated by piecing together a growing number of partial but revealing and complementary accounts from participants. These outline deliberate and complex military moves which predated and parallelled the political-diplomatic efforts designed to manipulate Egypt into provoking Israel to launch a first strike, following which the USSR would intervene to support the Arab side against the "aggressor."

Michael Oren cites numerous sources to establish that already in 1966, with Egypt ostensibly barred from deploying substantial forces in Sinai, the Soviets devised a master plan for such deployment codenamed "Conqueror." More revealing, perhaps, is the description of this plan's strategy as "shield and sword"--the motto and emblem of the KGB. One of this plan's basic features (a lightly defended front line) was specifically designed "to serve as bait for luring the Israelis into a frontal assault."(86)

Perhaps even more significant is that "Conqueror" was originated at the same time that Egypt signed its defense treaty with Syria, which was invoked by the warning of May 1967. Syria's role in the Soviet instigation of the 1967 crisis has not been adequately explored, partly because Russian sources--not to mention Syrian ones--are absolutely silent on it. The Egyptian-Syrian pact was signed in November 1966, just before Amer's visit to Moscow; but the USSR began pressing for its conclusion shortly after the coup on February 23 which put Damascus firmly in the Soviet camp and provided a test case for the activist foreign policy formulated at the Soviet Communist Party's congress a few weeks later. This official CPSU doctrine asserted "unity of the three revolutionary trends in modern times--global Socialism, national-liberation struggle of enslaved peoples and the international workers' movement."(87)

Syrian leaders, including the new prime minister and defense minister, were flown to Moscow in a Soviet military plane on April 18. On May 2, a treaty was signed between Syria and the USSR.(88) Then, as documented by Walter Laqueur, "During his May [10-18] 1966 visit to Cairo Kosygin persuaded the Rais [Nasser] that a mutual defense pact between Cairo and Damascus (to be guaranteed by Moscow) would be in the best interests of all those concerned."(89) Kosygin's mission and his speech to the Egyptian National Assembly on May 17, stressing "the important role of your country also in the Arab peoples' struggle for the solution of the Palestinian question"(90) must have been cleared by the Politburo with a clear view of what was to follow. By that time the Soviet plan, at least in its political aspect, might have begun to take shape. It conformed with the overall change toward an activist strategy against the United States.

As recalled by Aleksandr Bovin, a member of Andropov's think-tank from the latter's pre-KGB days (and later Brezhnev's speechwriter), "[By] about the middle of 1966 there began to ripen within the Soviet leadership an intent to stamp its foot, to scare the Americans, to put them in their proper place."(91) The Soviet ambassador in Washington at the time, Anatoli Dobrynin, writes that such a trend "was reflected during the 23rd Party congress…which devoted much attention to Soviet-American relations and to criticism of the USA's policy in Vietnam."(92) Ben-Tzur points to the meetings held by the Soviet military with Arab and other delegations to the 23rd congress, in all of whose countries violence erupted in short order.(93)

Syria's role in the CPSU's new global concept can be extrapolated from contemporary Soviet propaganda, according to its standard methods: "In Soviet diplomatic practice, every important foreign policy step…was accompanied by a number of propaganda actions--including publication of articles, statements by ‘independent' organizations and public figures supporting the Soviet position, invitation…to participate in a Soviet V.I.P.'s visit, praising the latter and his position, and so on.… these expensive operations were called ‘propaganda insurance' or ‘propaganda backing.'"(94)

Such a campaign was begun already on May 8, 1966 in Izvestia, which for the first time claimed that Syria "became a central object of military blackmail and provocation by Israel."(95) On the same day, a TASS cable from Damascus made the first mention of "a suspicious concentration and movement of Israeli troops sighted lately on the border with Syria."(96) This report, predating Kosygin's trip to Cairo, appeared only in the provincial Sovietskaya Kirgizia. By May 21, upon his return, the national Sovietskaya Rossiya was charging that "about a third of the Israeli army, after marching to music through the streets of Haifa, was immediately following the parade transferred to the Syrian border."(97)

On this background the first official Soviet protest about these troop concentrations was delivered on May 25, 1966 by the same Semyonov to Israeli Ambassador Katriel Katz. "The Soviets appear to have had an obsession about such troop concentrations," writes Parker; Israel counted at least eight such warnings before the last one actually touched off the war.(98) An apter description is probably that given by Solomon M. Schwartz, one of the first researchers on the subject: "The legend about energetic preparation by Israel for attacking Syria became from the summer of 1966 an integral part of the Soviet propaganda in the Middle East."(99) In the summer of 1966, this was indeed a legend. Despite recurring firefights on the frontier, Israel's entire defense line from Lake Tiberias northward was held by one company of paratroops with minimal auxiliary units.(100)

The recurrence of these Soviet warnings is customarily invoked to support the thesis that the May 1967 disinformation was merely a routine exercise that happened to get out of hand. But this is purely speculative, and certainly no better founded than an alternative interpretation: that the repetition of these charges, together with increasingly acrimonious Soviet statements and the encouragement of Syria to undertake actions (which indeed provoked a forceful Israeli response climaxing on April 7), were part of a deliberate escalation designed to prepare the ground for harnessing Egypt to the military confrontation being prepared and to draw an Israeli strike against Egypt as well.

On April 22, 1967, in Berlin on his way to a gathering of Communist bloc leaders at Karlovy Vary, Brezhnev signalled that this regional build-up was approaching its global objective: a strike at the United States via its Israeli client. He notified his counterparts, East Germany's Walter Ulbricht and Poland's Wladislaw Gomulka, of a "decisive blow" that was about to be dealt to American interests in the Middle East--even at the cost of sacrificing Nasser.(101) After the mid-May warning was transmitted to Egypt, Soviet "propaganda insurance" concentrated on "pushing the United States into the forefront of the Middle East crisis by making Washington responsible for Israel's actions"(102) in its forthcoming assault on Syria--precisely according to the guidelines now revealed for Operation Marabu.

Preliminary details of the Soviet naval landing on Israeli shores with air support, which was aborted after being put in motion on June 10, were first published by the present writer in MERIA Journal three years ago, based largely on reminiscences of participants.(103) In response to the recent publication of these findings in Russian, Academician Aleksandr K. Kislov has added the hitherto unconfirmed fact that the landing force included (in addition to improvised platoons from warship crews) "desant [landing] ships with well-prepared marines."(104) Since the original publication, other substantial corroborating evidence has emerged, which, among other aspects, indicates that planning of this operation began well before mid-May 1967.

This was already described in 1996-1997, in mostly unused portions of several interviews conducted by a BBC team for a documentary series. In denying any Soviet intent to intervene in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, former KGB "resident" in Cairo Vadim Kirpichenko said: "this was not…1967…when we were insisting and we were prepared for some decisive actions."(105) And in a portion of his interview that was not included in the broadcast series, Foreign Ministry officer Pyrlin stated specifically: "As far as the invasion readiness goes, yes, the order was given but there was no order to bomb or to attack Israel--Grechko would not be able to issue such an order without a Politburo decision."(106)

Preparations for the prospective landing were one feature of the unprecedented reinforcement of naval units in the Mediterranean which had been in full swing from January 1967, when Navy commander Gorshkov visited Egypt.(107) According to accepted Soviet procedure, military moves on this kind of scale required Politburo approval:

…such as mobilizations general or partial; substantial movements of troops, particularly from one military district to another; large maneuvers, especially unplanned ones; deployment and use of any type of weapons of mass destruction; putting on alert all Soviet armed forces, or forces in one or several military districts; and some other matters.(108)

The Politburo thus had to approve the "first large-scale movement of Soviet naval units into the Mediterranean at the end of February" which began shortly after Amer submitted his plan to Nasser and Gorshkov's visit to Egypt.(109) The ships were drawn from the Black Sea and Northern Fleets. Two of the participants in the projected landing operation give their respective dates for starting the voyage to the Mediterranean as May 3, from the Baltic and May 20, from an Arctic base.(110) At least one Soviet nuclear submarine (K-131) was sent from the Barents Sea into the Mediterranean "on the eve of crisis…by decision of the leadership."(111) Another Soviet nuclear submarine, based in Alexandria, received orders to fire nuclear missiles at Israel if the latter should use nuclear arms against the Arabs.(112)

Soviet warships carrying nuclear weapons were also dispatched to the Red Sea before the hostilities started, ostensibly because "...there existed in Moscow a concern that in a turn of events unfavorable for it, Israel could use certain kinds of WMD [weapons of mass destruction], the existence of which never was denied by official Tel Aviv." On June 8, this squadron was at close enough range to arrive "partially for deterrence, to the Red Sea shores of Egypt"--a move triggered, according to the official Russian history, by the Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty.(113)

After another 10 ships passed from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean on May 31,(114) the Soviet eskadra in the Mediterranean consisting of 40 battle units, including 10 submarines, was put on battle alert on June 1.(115) On June 4, it was given 12 hours to reach full battle alert.(116) The head of Israeli SIGINT (signal intelligence) in 1967 told the present writer that his unit tracked radio messages from 43 Soviet vessels in the eastern Mediterranean but was unable to crack their code.(117) In any event, these signals would not have given away the Soviet desant operation, as orders to raise a landing party on each ship were given orally to the captains on board the flagship.(118) The Soviet military interpreters into Arabic, who were confined to the Soviet Embassy in Cairo since May 11, were transferred at some point to Alexandria. There they were supposed to be embedded with the landing forces "for liason with Israeli Arabs."(119)

As these preparations could not have been detected by U.S. or Israeli intelligence unless revealed in signals, this belies subsequent Soviet and Russian attempts to present this operation as purely deterrent. The same applies to the combat alert ordered, according to Pyrlin, for Soviet land and air forces "in the Transcaucasus,…in the Transcaspian, all the districts oriented at the Middle East. It was publicly known that these military districts are responsible for the situation... in the Middle East region." Pyrlin claims "the fact that they were raised to alarm--it was well known, and from that various conclusions could be drawn: either we are about to initiate some military steps or whether it was going to be the demonstration of force.…It was meant as a demonstration of power."(120) There is, however, no evidence that U.S. or any other Western intelligence was aware of this.

On Sunday [June 4], in Ukraine, oral orders were also given to deploy a "regiment" of strategic bombers to vantage points on the USSR's southern fringe, "from where they could reach Sinai." With the possible exception of the first order, all the instructions were delivered from Moscow over the phone to save time over the decoding, according to the Air Force Corps commander, Col. General (ret.) Vasili Reshetnikov. A day before, the pilots were assigned pre-determined targets in Israel: "The objects…were named to us--that strikes had to be delivered against: they were marked by the geographical terms on the map; and we were particularly interested about the anti-aircraft defense systems, the Hawk complexes."(121)

This reference to Israel's U.S.-supplied anti-aircraft missiles appears to connect the Soviet operational plans to one of the USSR's central concerns regarding Israel--its nuclear capability. The first Hawk batteries were deployed in 1965 around the nuclear plant at Dimona.(122) The KGB "resident" in pre-1967 war Israel mentions being ordered to check "the reliability of existing information about the progress of works conducted in Israel for producing nuclear weapons."(123) Dimona is known to have been, at least on two occasions (May 17 and 26, 1967), the target of Egyptian high-altitude aerial photography sorties which the Hawks either did not attempt or failed to intercept. A Soviet military historian who has specialized in the Middle East, Col. Valeri Yaremenko, wrote that: "this lack of action [response] pushed Nasser and Commander-in-Chief Marshal Amer to reach, in absolute secrecy, a decision to destroy the Israeli reactor before it would be able to produce nuclear weaponry. Intensive training flights were started, with live bombing of a ‘full-scale Dimona model' in the Egyptian desert….In the beginning of June [1967] Amer decided to bomb Dimona in the period of June 7-10."(124) In defense of Nasser's conduct, Egyptian diplomat Tahsin Basheer said he "miscalculated badly, but he defended the area against atomization."(125)

Yaremenko states that "Moscow remained a passive observer" of this activity, but adds, "according to the opinion of the then foreign minister, nuclear war in the Middle East could have been beneficial for the USSR."(126) Gromyko himself is recorded as telling his subordinates 14 years later that "Amer--a decisive and even aggressive person--gave an order to bomb Dimona and other important objects on Israeli territory. But at our behest Nasser cancelled this order." According to the source of this account, former Soviet diplomat Oleg Grinevski, Gromyko claimed that:

the Soviet leadership did not know then about the Egyptians' plan to liquidate Israel's nuclear potential. We knew only about the intent to strike a sudden blow upon important objects on Israeli territory in general without any concretization. This is why we sent a note to Nasser, in which we very insistently advised not to start this war….I think that if we had clearly envisaged then that the main goal of this strike [was] to destroy the nuclear potential of Israel, we would not have chosen to convince Nasser to avoid it.(127)

However, Akopov relates that Badran, when questioned by Kosygin, did disclose the details of Amer's proposed targets.(128) Given that in following years all such deep-penetration reconnaissance of Israel was performed on behalf of Egypt by Soviet aircraft and personnel,(129) it seems unlikely that the Soviets were totally unaware of the Dimona missions. In this context it is noteworthy to mention that in April 1967, 15 Soviet SU-7 bombers were delivered to Egypt, but "the Egyptian pilots did not have time to master them."(130) Gromyko's statement may actually indicate there was an active Soviet interest in taking out Dimona--as Reshetnikov's account appears to suggest.

While Moscow itself treated the forthcoming war in the Cold War context, it took pains to present it as a local conflict, and to camouflage its participation. "There was serious warning against any losses and casualties, because every loss of any plane could unfold the essence and the meaning of our race [raids], our Soviet aviation." To prevent formal identification of the Soviet air intervention, "all the documents were taken from the pilots and the crew in case some plane is burning in the desert."(131) The idea was to "let others guess who fell down and why they were there, what happened."(132) Reshetnikov notes that "we had to work under the colors of the Egyptian flag."(133) There was a logistic problem with repainting the planes in Egyptian markings, because "no one knew what these signs should look like;" being Sunday, it was very difficult to obtain from closed factories the needed paint, and "…we needed time to let it dry,…but in fact we were putting the colours on and flying straight away, flew immediately, and new planes were ready to take off as well."(134) When "the first group was [at] the launching airfield," Reshetnikov was instructed to await further orders.(135) "In 1967 and in 1973 he [Grechko] was not able to issue the order without Brezhnev's decision," stated Pyrlin, equating the Politburo with the secretary-general.(136)

The Politburo, then, had to approve the preparations and preliminary stages of the operation up to the actual implementation, and its mid-May resolution approving the transmission of a warning to Egypt was but the continuation of a series. It certainly had to approve Brezhnev's major overt move in Mediterranean naval matters: his demand, at Karlovy Vary on April 24, for removal of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As it happened, this was almost achieved at the the outset of the war, when the Sixth Fleet was withdrawn westward in order to disprove Arab charges that its aircraft were assisting Israel's air offensive. From then until June 10, the Soviet navy enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the eastern Mediterranean--the best conditions Brezhnev might have desired for the projected intervention.

The scope of this paper cannot include the sequence of events that prevented the activation of the Soviet operation on behalf of Egypt in the opening days of the war, and then brought about its restart as a declared, deterrent move to stop Israel's subsequent onslaught on Syria. But it merits mention that Brezhnev's speech confirms, for the first time in an official Soviet document, that the latter action was undertaken--and hence that it had been prepared: "On June 10…all Soviet warships in the Mediterranean, including missle launchers, were given an order to turn and under escort of submarines [steam] to the Syrian coast."(137)

While there is as yet no direct evidence that Brezhnev and Grechko were personally involved in the planning of a naval landing, their joint authorship of such a scheme appears very much in character. Consider the following account of such an operation:

Landing from the sea… would be an absolute surprise…a plan that is deciphered by the opponent, as is known, is half-destined to fail. Therefore, the first task was to ensure absolute secrecy. We forbade any correspondence in connection with the operation being prepared. For its development only a severely limited circle of people was drafted.…In order not to disclose our intentions its [intelligence gathering] was conducted across a broad front. Work upon the disinformation of the opponent was conducted, suggesting the ‘desant' would take place [elsewhere].(138)

This description corresponds exactly to the preparation of the Soviet Mediterranean operation in 1967: all orders for the landing were delivered orally, only ship captains were informed until the actual implementation, and total radio silence was observed--not to mention the use of disinformation. But the quotation actually refers to a landing at Novorossisk on the Black Sea during World War II. It is taken from Brezhnev's memoirs, which describe his service as the political officer of the 18th Army as a lifelong defining experience, and take credit for this successful operation together with the Army's commanding officer--Grechko.(139)

These two old comrades-in-arms appear to have reverted in 1967 to the victorious tactic of their joint heroic memories. Brezhnev's tendency to see the two conflicts in the same context is further indicated by his use, in the June 1967 speech, of the term "treacherous" to describe Israel's pre-emptive attack--an epithet usually reserved in Soviet parlance for the German attack on the USSR in 1941.(140) A landing operation would in any case not seem far-fetched to Soviet brass: as late as 1969, such an assualt (in this case a paratroop drop) was proposed in order to take Beijing following the Soviet-Chinese border clashes.(141)

As for Grechko's input, his characterization by Yegorychev as a soldafon (rough soldier) is borne out by accounts that his "self-will, capriciousnes, roughness and rudeness" went as far as suggesting a conquest of Western Europe as revenge for the Cuban debacle of 1962. He was reportedly moderated somewhat by promotion to ministerial rank, but still "would not hesitate to demonstrate the superiority and might of the Soviet armed forces."(142) Considering another of Grechko's defining youthful experiences--his service, during the Civil War and after, in the notoriously and murderously anti-Semitic army of Semyon Budyonny--it is hardly surprising that even as minister "sometimes he would wave his fists, threatening to liquidate imperialism and Zionism."(143) According to a former Soviet officer, who in 1967 was in the graduating class of cadets:

In the second half of May 1967…the Middle Eastern situation was deteriorating, war between the Arab states and Israel was considered inevitable, indeed imminent. The war's result was predetermined, as everyone in the USSR believed…In order to prevent the West coming to Israel's defense, combat readiness was raised…for this to be better understood by officers and upper-class cadets, they were read a statement by Minister of Defense Marshal Grechko: "The fiftieth year of the Great October Socialist Revolution will be the last year of the existence of the State of Israel."(144)

While the destruction of Israel was not an officially stated goal of Soviet policy, there are numerous other instances indicating that the idea pervaded Soviet thought and parlance, particularly among the military. One example of many for this indoctrination is provided in the memoir of an officer who was dispatched to Egypt shortly after the war: "The Arabs had decided to reestablish Palestine on the area that had already been captured by Israel. With this purpose, led by the UAR under the leadership of…Nasser, [they] deployed armed forces, leaning on the assistance of the Soviet Union."(145) Ambassador Chuvakhin, while proclaiming to Eshkol the USSR's peaceful intent if Israel did not attack, was evidently more candid with the leader of Israel's Communist party (MaKI), Dr. Moshe Sneh: "The war will last 24 hours only and no trace of the State of Israel will be left."(146)

Akopov, however, recalls his diplomatic colleagues demurring at least from the feasibility of this aim: "If we put the task of an offensive…liberation of earlier occupied territories--then we estimated it differently: we [at the Foreign Ministry] thought that the Egyptian army is not capable of such operations.…Our military believed, thought that the Egyptian army could fulfil these tasks."(147) "Earlier occupied territories" might apply to all of pre-1967 Israel, or at least to those parts not included in the Jewish state by the 1947 Partition Resolution. Official Soviet foreign policy did not accept the 1949 armistice lines as final borders between Israel and its neighbors.(148)

Restoring the Partition borders might well be "the unavoidable weakening of Israel's positions" which Pyrlin mentions as the expected outcome of the war, while qualifying that "of course there could not be any consideration of its absolute liquidation, as called for by some hot Arab heads." Such a result, "could have constituted according to this [Soviet] way of thinking a serious blow to the prestige of the USA, Israel's main ally which was at that period getting bogged deeper and deeper in the Vietnam war."(149)

It also might have been a fitting gift for November 7, 1967. The approaching anniversary of the revolution provides an element of timing and motivation for the Soviet initiative that merits further investigation. Several references from other sources indicate that Grechko was not alone in seeking a dramatic deed to mark the event, such as a blow on the "imperialist forces" which would crown Soviet leaders with an historic Leninist achievement. "Brezhnev," according to his speechwriter at the time, "began by May [1967] to show his interest in the 50th the beginning of June [before the war] we met at Gor'ki's dacha and were improvising the approximate plan for celebrations."(150)

The KGB-Stasi meeting in Moscow in mid-April specifically stressed the importance of "active measures" for commemorating the jubilee.(151) At the height of the Middle Eastern crisis, an unnamed Soviet diplomat at the UN appeared to betray this preoccupation in an inverted form, by "saying they would…not get involved in a war on their 50th anniversary."(152)

Ironically, when the timing, character and success of Israel's pre-emptive strike surprised the Soviets and obviated their planned intervention, it also put a damper on the festive occasion: "This interest [in celebrations] waned with the Six-Day War,"(153) which instead necessitated a meticulous cover-up that continues to this day.


1. Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time (London: Arrow Books, 1997), p. 111.

2. Michael B. Oren, Six Days of War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 55.

3. Nadav Safran, From War To War (New York: Pegasus), p. 274n, quoting deposed Egyptian Minister of War Shams al-Din Badran at his trial, according to al-Ahram, February 25, 1968. Also Jerusalem Post, February 28, 1968. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization also "reported to the Secretary-General that there was no evidence of any Israeli build-up" [F.T. Liu, at the time Senior Advisor to UNTSO, in Richard B. Parker, ed., The Six-Day War: A Retrospective (Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 1996), p. 99.]

4. For a comprehensive overview of all these theories see Richard B. Parker, The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), Chapter 1: "The Soviet Warning," pp. 3-20.

5. Brutents is one of several Soviet officials active in 1967 who still vehemently defend the USSR against "American and Israeli writers [who] tried to prove that the Soviet Union blessed, so to speak, the events that led to the Six-Day War" and accuse them of "attempts… to justify the provocative Israeli behavior by the actions of the Soviet side that on May 12 informed Nasser about dangerous concentration of Israeli troops on the border with Syria." See Karen Brutents, interview on CNN, August 1997; and Yevgeni Pyrlin, Trudny I dolgiy put' k miru (Russian: The Difficult and Long Road to Peace) (Moscow: ROSSPEN (Rossiiskaya Politicheskaya Entsiklopediya), 2002), p. 56.

6. Oren, op. cit., p. 54.

7. Galia Golan, Soviet Policies in the Middle East from World War Two to Gorbachev (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 58; Mohamed Heikal, 1967--Al-Intifijar (Arabic), Cairo, 1990, p. 447, cited in Parker, Politics, p. 6-7, p. 247 n.9.

8. Maj. Gen. Vladimir A. Zolotaryov et al, Rossiya (SSSR) v lokal'nykh voynakh I vooruzhennykh konfliktakh vtoroy poloviny XX veka (Russian: Russia (USSR) in Local Wars and Military Conflicts in the Second Half of the 20th Century) (Moscow: Institute of Military History, Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, 2000), p.181. This first official history of the Soviet involvement in local wars does not mention passing the information to Egypt at all, starting its chronology of the Middle Eastern crisis on May 18, 1967, with the removal of UNEF by Egypt.

9. A vague and sparse chapter in the official history of the Foreign Intelligence Agency of the Russian Federation on its website states: "In the [1960s], foreign intelligence received information about Israel's preparations for new aggression against Arab countries, including the date for it to attack Egypt and Syria in 1967. This intelligence was passed on to the leaderships of Arab countries, who, however, undervalued it and overvalued the military potential of their countries." (Russian), n.d. Gromyko recalled years later that during the "worrying days of May 1967… our military was apprehensive that Israel any moment would attack Syria"; Oleg Grinevski, "Atomnaja bomba I Blizhnij Vostok" (Russian: "The A-bomb and the Middle East"), Dipkur'er (supplement to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moscow), March 1 2001; Grinevski: Stsenarii dlya tret'ey mirovoy voyny (Russian: The Script for World War III) (Moscow: Olma-Press, 2002), p. 112.

10. The KGB "resident" in Israel in 1967 stated as recently as five years ago: "From the regularly incoming information it transpired that a war in the Middle East was approaching and could break out at the end of the 1966 or in the first half of 1967.… Our efforts and means were concentrated in gathering reliable secret information." Ivan Dedyulya: "Na Zemle Obetovannoy: dejatel'nost' sovetskoj rezidentury v Izraile v 60-x godax" (Russian: "In the Promised Land: the Activity of the Soviet Residentura in Israel in the ‘60s"), NVO (military supplement of Nezavisimaya Gazeta) Vol. 20, Moscow 1998.

11. Leonid Mlechin: Mossad: sekretnaya voyna (Russian: Mossad: The Secret War) (Moscow: Centrpoligraf, 2000), pp. 246-247. According to this source, the KGB resident in Cairo warned about up to 12 brigades concentrated on the Syrian border.

12. MfS-S.d.M-1465, Protokoll ueber Verhandlung zwischen Vertretern des MfS der DDR und des KfS beim Ministerrat der UdSSR ueber gemeinsame aktive Massnahmen fuer das Jahr 1967 (German: Protocol of Negotiation between Representatives of the MfS of the GDR and the KGB at the Council of Ministers of the USSR over Common Active Measures for the Year 1967), pp. 8-9.

13. Parker, Politics, p. 21.

14. Isabella Ginor, "Adayin oneh bizehirut" (Hebrew: "Still Answering Cautiously"), Ha'aretz, July 5, 1991.

15. Parker, Politics. p. 248 n12. This characterization of Semynov was presented in 1992 during a conference on the 25th anniversary of the June War convened at the Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs at the Department of State's Foreign Service Institute by former Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Korniyenko and Vitaly Naumkin of the Oriental Studies Institute. It also appears to conform with the attempts to downgrade the echelon involved in the disinformation incident and the motivation behind it.

16. Pavel Akopov, transcript, p. 4.

17. Oleg Grinevski, Sekrety sovetskoy diplomatii (Russian: Secrets of Soviet Diplomacy), (Moscow: Vagrius, 2000), p. 6; Korniyenko was also a member of this delegation and so must have known the position of trust that was conferred on Semyonov.

18. Mlechin, op.cit., pp. 246-247.

19. Michael Bar-Zohar: Embassies in Crisis, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1970), p. 1. In a telephone interview from his home in Tel-Aviv on November 1, 2002, Bar-Zohar confirmed this quotation and gave his source as "probably a British intercept."

20. Richard B. Parker, ed., The Six-Day War: A Retrospective (henceforth SDW), (Florida: University Press of Florida, 1996), pp. 37, 40, 42. This book presents the proceedings of the 25th anniversary conference (see note 16). In June 1967, Bassiouny was a special assistant in the office of Undersecretary Feki. The Russian participant quoted is Naumkin; a similar view was presented by Korniyenko.

21. Karen N. Brutents: Tridtsat' let na Staroy ploschadi (Russian: Thirty Years on the Old Square), (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye Otnoshenija, 1996), p. 230.

22. Telephone interview with Brutents (Moscow), October 17, 2000.

23. Emphasis added. Der Rede Von L.I. Breschnev auf dem Juniplenum des ZK der KpdSU, Uber die Politik der Sowjetunion im Zusammenhang mit der Agression Israels im Nahen Osten, 20.06.1967 (German: The Speech of L.I. Brezhnev at the June Plenum of the CP of the USSR in Connection with the Israeli Aggression in the Middle East). SAPMO=NA ZPA IV 2/1/362. The authenticity of Brezhnev's reference to a Politburo resolution is confirmed by a Polish report of the same speech (AAN KC PZPR 2632), which was found and partly published by Uri Bar-Noi, Notes from the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy (Beersheba: Ben Gurion University), Vol. 6, May 2001. Bar-Noi, however, considers that Brezhnev's speech "does not shed light on the controversial information about concentration of Israeli troops,"and appears to attach no significance to the mention of the Politburo -- a conclusion disputed by the present writer.

24. Uri Ra'anan, "Not Just Six Days, Not Just a War," Bostonia (Boston University), Fall 2002. Ra'anan and Bar-Zohar (in Embassies in Crisis, p. 2) were among the first who pioneered the hypothesis of a deliberate disinformation maneuver on the part of the USSR. However, Ra'anan suggested that the Soviets believed the Egyptian response would not cause an actual war, and Moscow could then take credit for preventing an Israeli attack on Syria that was never going to occur anyway. "Soviet Global Policy in the Middle East," Naval War College Review, September 1971, pp. 25-26.

25. Victor Israelyan, Inside the Kremlin During the Yom Kippur War (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), pp.29-30.

26. Kosygin was away for the UN General Assembly's extraordinary session and his meeting with President Johnson in Glassboro--where he was evidently constrained by collective instructions. Johnson was very frustrated when "each time I mentioned missiles, Kosygin talked about Arabs and Israelis." Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969 (New York: Henry Holt, 1971), p. 483.

27. Brutents, Thirty Years, p. 374.

28. Parker, Politics, p. 130.

29. On June 13, 1967. Solomon M. Schwarz, Sovetskii Soyuz i arabo-izrail'skaya voyna 1967 goda (Russian: The Soviet Union and the Arab-Israeli War 1967) (New York: American Jewish Workers' Committee, 1969), p. 72, quoting Security Council minutes S/PV, 1358 p. 147-150. On Tarabanov as a mouthpiece for Fedorenko, see Arthur Lall, The UN and the Middle East Crisis, 1967 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), p. 88.

30. Pyrlin, transcript, p. 5.

31. Telephone interview with Brutents.

32. In a speech on May 22, 1967, Nasser said: "On 13 May we received accurate information that Israel was concentrating on the Syrian border huge armed forces of about 11 to 13 brigades. These forces were divided into two fronts, one south of Lake Tiberias and the other north of the Lake." Radio Cairo, May 22, 1967, quoted by BBC, May 24. Middle East Record (henceforth MER) 1967, p. 190. More detail on the "intelligence" provided by the Soviets was apparently disclosed to a U.S. Embassy official in Paris by a "well-connected Arab diplomat": "top secret Israeli plans for [an] 8 brigade ‘retaliation' attack on Syrian frontier position" on May 15, which Nasser "had foiled" by moving troops into Sinai. Here too the purported scope of Israeli action is wildly disproportionate. Department of State incoming telegram 023378, Embassy Paris to Secretary of State, secret, May 23, 1967.

33. Arab sources quoted in MER, p. 17.

34. Al-Gumhuria and Al-Akhbar dailies in Arabic, both from November 26 1966, cited in Avraham Ben-Tzur, Gormim Sovietiim ve Milhemet Sheshet-Ha'yamim (Hebrew: Soviet Factors and the Six-Day War) (Tel-Aviv: Sifriyat Poalim, 1975), pp. 161-162. According to a former GRU Major-General, Grechko was considered "acting" Minister of Defense as early as November 1960 when he hosted an Egyptian delegation headed by Marshal Amer. Sergei Krakhmalov Zapiski voyennogo attashe (Russian: Notes of a Military Attache), (Moscow: Rosskaya Razvedka, 2000), p. 76.

35. Vladimir Solovyov and Elena Klepikova: Zagovorschiki v Kremle (Russian: The Kremlin Plotters), (Moscow: Aktsionernoe Obschestvo ‘Moskovskii Tsentr Iskusstv', 1991), pp. 20-21. Andropov's promotion to candidate-member of the Politburo was the first for a KGB chief since Stalin's appointee, Lavrenty Beria.

36. Nasser's speech at UAR Advanced Air HQ, May 25, 1967, cited in Walter Laqueur, The Road to War (London: Penguin Books, 1969), Appendix Three, pp. 371-376. This contention was repeated by Mahmoud Riad to Parker as late as 1989: "The proof of Israel's intentions, if any was needed, was a statement by Yitzhak Rabin...on May 12 threatening to occupy Damascus and overthrow the Syrian regime." Parker, Politics, p. 14, p.249 n35.

37. MER, p. 187.

38. Protokoll, loc. cit.

39. Pyrlin, Road, p. 56.

40. Aleksandr Khaldeev, "Nesostoyavshiisya Desant" (Russian: "The Landing That Did Not Occur"), Okna (Tel-Aviv), Sept.14, 2000.

41. Israelyan, op.cit., p. 192.

42. Isabella Ginor, "The Russians Were Coming: The Soviet Military Threat in the 1967 Six-Day War," Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, Vol. 4., No. 4 (December 2000).

43. Pyrlin, Road, p. 56.

44. Pyrlin, transcript, pp. 1, 4.

45. Anwar el-Sadat: In Search of Identity: an Autobiography (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), pp. 171-172.

46. Parker, SDW, p. 65.

47. Brezhnev, Rede.

48. Zolotarev, p.182, citing I.I. Latynin, Opyt primeneniya boevykh takticheskikh grupp v lokal'nykh voynakh na Blizhnem Vostoke (1967-1991) (Russian: The Experience of Using Tactical Battle Groups in Local Wars in the Middle East (1967-1991), PhD dissertation, Moscow, 1997, p. 49.

49. Pyrlin, transcript, pp. 5-6.

50. Brezhnev, Rede.

51. Laqueur, op. cit., p. 97.

52. Department of State Memorandum G/PM:RLGarthoff:pep:5-29-67, confidential. Brezhnev had spoken at a conference of Communist parties at Karlovy Vary, Czechoslovakia.

53. Department of State incoming telegram 029229, Embassy Moscow to Secretary of State, secret, May 27, 1967; the source is identified as "Voslensky," probably Mikhail Voslenski, a historian and interpreter who later defected to the West.

54. Cited in Joseph Govrin, The Six-Day War in the Mirror of Soviet-Israeli Relations--April-June 1967 (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, Soviet and East European Research Centre Research Paper No. 61, December 1985), p. 10.

55. Pyrlin, Road, p. 59

56. Parker, SDW, p. 114. Georgy Korniyenko, The Cold War: Testimony of a Participant (Moscow: Institute of International Relations, 1994), pp. 129-33, cited in translation by James. F. Leonard; Parker, SDW, p. 72.

57. Testimony of Shams Badran at his trial. Al-Ahram, February 25, 1968, cited in Ben-Tzur, op.cit., p. 165.

58. Ben-Tzur, op.cit., p. 169. While Ben-Tzur's study was published only in Hebrew and drew little direct attention outside Israel, its thesis has been endorsed by leading Israeli actors at the time such as Maj. Gen. Meir Amit, then Head of the Mossad, who cited it both at the 25th anniversary conference and in an interview with the present writer, August 9, 2002.

59. Oren, op.cit., p. 40.

60. Tanjug (Yugoslav Press Agency), cited in Laqueur, Road, p. 53; Moshe A. Gilboa, Shesh Shanim, Shisha Yamim (Hebrew: Six Years, Six Days) (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1968), p. 86.

61. Department of State Incoming Telegram 029479, Ambassador Moscow to Secretary of State, confidential, May 28, 1967. Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson qualified the credibility of this information, pointing out the source's "dislike of both Nasser and the Soviets."

62. Akopov, transcript, p. 16.

63. Mohammed Heikal, The Sphinx and the Commissar (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 169.

64. Telephone interview with Nikolai G. Yegorychev (Moscow), November 11, 2000; Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB, No location, Nota Bene, 1992 (Russian translation of same title in English, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1990), p. 503; Yefim Segal and Zinovi Dubrovski, "Ne dolzhny Molchat'" (Russian: "Must Not Keep Silent"), Novosti Nedeli, Tel Aviv, March 2, 2000.

65. Laqueur, op.cit., pp. 98-99.

66. Aleksandr Bovin: XX vek kak zhizn' (Russian: The XX Century as a Life) (Moscow: Zakharov, 2003), p. 160.

67. Brezhnev, Rede.

68. Department of State incoming telegram 027005, US Mission UN to Secretary of State, confidential, May 25, 1967.

69. Brezhnev, Rede.

70. Akopov, transcript, pp. 4-8, 10-11.

71. Brezhnev, Rede.

72. Telephone interview with Brutents.

73. Emphasis added. Brezhnev, Rede.

74. Embtel 1517, (Lisbon), Robert Anderson to President Johnson, June 2, 1967, NSF, NSC History, Box 18, LBJL, cited in Avner Cohen: Israel and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), p. 26; p. 412S n27.

75. Akopov, transcript, p.6; Brutents mentions receiving excerpts from those talks for use in preparation of Brezhnev's speech. Thirty Years, p.374.

76. Emphasis in the original. Zolotarev, op.cit., pp. 182-3, citing Latynin, Experience.

77. Akopov, transcript, loc.cit.

78. Kosygin message to Wilson, May 27, 1967, reproduced in Department of State Outgoing Telegram 204008, to American Embassy Moscow from Secretary of State Rusk, Secret, May 28, 1967.

79. Brezhnev, Rede.

80. Ahron Bregman and Jihan El-Tahri: The Fifty Years War (London: Pengiun & BBC Books, 1998), p. 76.

81. Pyrlin, transcript, pp. 6-7, 28.

82. Department of State incoming telegram 029479, American Embassy Moscow to Secretary of State, confidential, May 28, 1967.

83. Pyrlin, transcript, pp. 7, 9.

84. Department of State incoming telegram 029479, American Embassy Moscow to Secretary of State, confidential, May 28, 1967.

85. Pyrlin, transcript, p. 27.

86. Oren, op.cit., p. 65; sources listed in p. 346 n10.

87. Mir Pasha Zeynalov: Nezabyvaemye vstrechi s predsedatelem Arafatom (Russian: Unforgettable Meetings with Chairman Arafat) (Moscow: Realii, 2002), p. 27.

88. Ben-Tzur, op.cit., p.86; Gilboa, op.cit., p. 85.

89. Laqueur, op.cit., p. 62.

90. Pravda, May 18, 1966.

91. Bovin, op.cit., p. 134.

92. Anatoli F. Dobrynin: Sugubo Doveritel'no (Russian: In Strict Confidence) (Moscow: Avtor, 1997), p. 134. Dobrynin mistakenly dates the congress in May.

93. Ben-Tzur, op.cit., p. 72, n13.

94. Israelyan, op.cit., pp. 99-100.

95. V. Kondrashov, interntional commentary, Izvestia, May 8, 1966, cited in Schwartz, op. cit., p. 24.

96. Schwartz, op.cit., p. 25.

97. Schwartz, op.cit., p. 25. Sovietskaya Rossiya, as noted by Ben-Tzur, was considered to be Brezhnev's personal organ. op.cit., p. 73, n14.

98. Parker, Politics, p. 11; Gilboa, op.cit., p. 85.

99. Schwartz, op.cit., p. 63.

100. Personal communication from Gideon Remez, a paratrooper then stationed at sector headquarters.

101. Erwin Wiet: Ostblock intern: 13 Jahre Dolmetscher fuer die polnische Partei- und Staatsfuehrung (German) (Hamburg: Hoffman und Campe), 1970, p. 165. Weit, Gomulka's interpreter, understood that Brezhnev was alluding to the war against Israel, into which "Nasser was tempted by the Soviets."

102. Theodore Draper: Israel and World Politics: Roots of the Third Arab-Israeli War (New York: Viking, 1968), pp. 54-55, quoting several such blasts in the flagship Soviet organs Pravda and Izvestiya between May 16 and 22.

103. Ginor, MERIA.

104. Professor Kislov, Head of the Center for Research of Peace Problems in Moscow, was in 1967 "stationed in the Middle East." He makes this statement "based on personal observation," but disputes the present writer's contention that Moscow pre-planned an operation against Israel, and holds that it was to be implemented only "in dire necessity to stop Israeli aggression." A.K. Kislov, "Ne v ladakh s faktami" (Russian: "The Facts Don't Add Up"), USA & Canada Journal, (Moscow: Russian Academyof Sciences, USA & Canada Institute), Vol. 12, No. 396, December 2002, p. 94. This is an afterword to Isabella Ginor, "'Shestidnevnaya voyna' 1967 g. i pozitsiya SSSR" (Russian: "The ‘Six Day War' and the Position of the USSR"), loc.cit., pp. 76-91.

105. Vadim Kirpichenko, transcript, p. 28.

106. Emphasis added. Pyrlin, transcript, p. 10.

107. MER, pp. 10, 22. A visit by the Soviet Minister of Fisheries in March also included meetings with top Egyptian commanders.

108. Israelyan, op.cit., p. 192.

109. MER, p. 10.

110. Captain (ret.) Yuri Khripunkov, personal communication to author, July 2001; Fleet Admiral (ret.) Ivan M. Kapitanets: Na sluzhbe okeanskomu flotu 1946-1992: zapiski komandujuschego dvumja flotami (Russian: In the Service of the Ocean Fleet 1946-1992: the Notes of the Commander of Two Fleets) (Moscow: Andreevski Flag, 2000), p. 174.

111. Valeri Mustyats: "Oshibka ekipazha" (Russian: "The Crew's Mistake"), Duel (Moscow) #41(132), October 12, 1999.

112. Yehudit Yeheskeli, "Hikinu lifkuda lishlo'ah til atomi al Yisrael" (Hebrew: "We Awaited the Order to Launch an Atomic Missile at Israel"), Yediot Aharonot (Tel Aviv), May 8, 1992. When contacted by the present writer a decade later, the source (a former crewman on this submarine, K-125 of the Pacific fleet) retracted his version, claiming that the reporter had misunderstood him (she, however, recorded the interview and stands by its accuracy). The source's name is withheld here as he also professed fear for the safety of his family, despite their present domicile in Israel--which, if well-founded, indicates the even farther-reaching extent of the Russian cover-up.

113. Zolotarev, op.cit., pp. 186-187. This move was confirmed to the present writer by Kapitanets. Telephone interview (Moscow), January 11, 2003.

114. List in Turkish attached to secret Israel Foreign Ministry memo, Minister in Ankara D. Laor to Deputy Director General Y. Tekoa, June 1, 1967.

115. Zolotarev, op.cit., p. 185.

116. Kapitanets, Service, p. 175.

117. Interview with Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Yoel Ben-Porat (Ramat Hasharon), March 8, 2002.

118. Kapitanets, Service, p. 176; Khripunkov, personal communication to present writer.

119. Khaldeev, loc.cit.

120. Pyrlin, transcript, pp. 10-11.

121. Col. General Vasily V. Reshetnikov, Commander of the Second Corps of the Strategic Air-Force in 1967, transcript, pp. 5-8; biography at .

122. Avner Cohen, op.cit., p. 269.

123. Dedyulya, loc.cit.

124. Valeri Yaremenko, "Yadernaya voyna na Blizhnem Vostoke byla by na pol'zu SSSR," (Russian: "Nuclear war in the Middle East Could Have Been Beneficial for the USSR"), Vremya Novostei (Moscow), June 5, 2002.

125. Parker, SDW, p. 250.

126. Yaremenko, loc.cit.

127. Grinevski, "A-bomb"; Script, pp. 112-113.

128. Akopov, transcript, p. 5.

129. Isabella Ginor: "'Under the Yellow Arab Helmet Gleamed Blue Russian Eyes': Operation Kavkaz and the War of Attrition, 1969-70," Cold War History (London: Frank Cass), Vol. 3, No. 1 (October 2002).

130. Anonymous: "Poslevoennaya voyna Sukhogo" (Russian: The Sukhoy's Postwar War), Kommersant-Daily (Moscow), July 31, 1999.

131. Reshetnikov, transcript, p. 4. "Race" is clearly a translation error which appears in the transcript but was corrected to "raids" in the BBC documentary film, which reflects Reshetnikov's audible words in Russian.

132. Ibid., p. 10.

133. Ibid., p. 4.

134. Ibid., p. 6.

135. Ibid., p. 8.

136. Pyrlin, transcript, p. 10.

137. Brezhnev, Rede.

138. L.I. Brezhnev, Vospominaniya, (Russian: Memoirs) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Politicheskoy Literatury), 1982, pp. 69-70.

139. Grechko was Brezhnev's immediate superior, according to Grechko's biography in Nikolai Zen'kovich: Samye zakritye ludi: Entsiklopediya biografiy (Russian: The Most Classified People: Biographical Encyclopedia) (Moscow: Olma-Press, 2002), pp. 117-120.

140. Brezhnev, Rede.

141. Brutents, Thirty Years, p. 263.

142. Yegorychev, interview; Israelyan, op.cit., pp. 27-28.

143. Biography of Grechko at . According to Zen'kovich, loc. cit., Grechko was Budyonny's personal protégé.

144. Vladimir B. Rezun, affidavit to present writer, Bristol (UK), January 13, 2001.

145. Vladinir A. Ryabukhin, "V Egypte" (Russian: "In Egypt"), in I.V. Shishchenko, ed., Smolyane-Internatsionalisty (Russian: Internationalists of Smolensk Region) (Smolensk: Smyadyn', 2000), p. 177.

146. Kol Ha'Am (Hebrew, Tel Aviv; MaKI organ), #14, p. 9, cited in Ben-Tzur, p. 237.

147. Akopov, transcript, p. 38.

148. Mikhail P. Popov: Tridtsat' sem' let na Blizhnem Vostoke (Russian: Thirty-Seven Years in the Middle East), Moscow, MGIMO, 2002, p. 20.

149. Pyrlin, Road, p. 54.

150. Bovin, op.cit., p. 160.

151. Protokoll.

152. "Roundup of gossip and attitudes in the UN," Walt Rostow to President, Top Secret, June 8, 1967, National Security File, NSC Histories "Middle East Crisis," Vol. 4, Tabs 128-130. The name and position of the Soviet source were sanitized in the declassified version of this document.

153. Bovin, op.cit., p. 160.


The author, a Fellow of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, thanks the Institute for a research grant on the Soviet military involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, which facilitated the research for and writing of this paper. She thanks Dr. Stefan Meining of Munich for granting access to Stasi documents he uncovered; Brook Lapping Productions for permission to quote from material relating to "The 50 Years War: Israel and the Arabs," a six part television documentary made by Brian Lapping Associates, 1998; and the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College, London for granting of access to, and permission to quote, interview transcripts from this material (henceforth referred to as "transcripts;" spelling and grammar reflect the text of the original English translation). She is also the author of "The Russians Were Coming: The Soviet Military Threat in the 1967 Six-Day War" which appeared in the December 2000 issue of MERIA

TOPICS: Egypt; Foreign Affairs; Government; Israel; Philosophy; Russia; Syria; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 1967war; algeria; arabactofwar; coverup; egypt; gamalabdelnasser; gaza; godsgravesglyphs; golanheights; hamas; hassannasrallah; hezbollah; iran; iraq; isis; israel; jerusalem; jordan; kgb; lebanon; leonidbrezhnev; letshavejerusalem; libya; modernhistory; modernwarfare; morocco; pakistan; russia; saudiarabia; sinai; sixdaywar; sovietliars; sovietunion; straitsoftiran; sudan; syria; tunisia; ussr; waronterror
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1 posted on 05/06/2005 9:01:20 AM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat; Tailgunner Joe

Disinfo from the Kremlin? Who'd a thunk it!

2 posted on 05/06/2005 9:05:50 AM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Take Back The GOP!)
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To: robowombat

Too long. Quit reading. What was the point?

3 posted on 05/06/2005 9:06:39 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: robowombat

My eyes crossed about half way thru. The author has a lot of info but the writing style is turgid and very hard to follow.

4 posted on 05/06/2005 9:08:33 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: robowombat

Only 153 footnotes???

5 posted on 05/06/2005 9:09:10 AM PDT by Andy from Beaverton (I only vote Republican to stop the Democrats)
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To: DannyTN

I think I broke my scroll wheel going down this one.

6 posted on 05/06/2005 9:09:47 AM PDT by reagan_fanatic (It takes all kinds of make Farmer Vincents fritters)
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To: robowombat; rmlew

This article is so convoluted, it's hard to figure out anything more complicated than the Soviet Union wanted to provoke what became the Six Day War to destroy Israel. I've never figured out why it was that the Soviet Union wanted to destroy Israel, but it is consistent with their later actions in 1973.

7 posted on 05/06/2005 9:18:42 AM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Andrew Heyward's got to go!)
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To: robowombat
yikes, i broke my mouse.

in any case, if the kgb did instigate the war it appears they miscalculated on a rather grandiose scale.

nothing like taking a proactive action to prove to the world that your military hardware is nothing more than battlefield debris waiting to happen.

putting it in the hands of illiterate third world savages is always helpful in the extreme too...
8 posted on 05/06/2005 9:19:52 AM PDT by mmercier
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To: Paleo Conservative

I don't think the Soviets cared about the existence of Israel, as such. An Arab war with Israel was just an excuse for the Soviets to intervene, and insert large numbers of troops into the ME.

9 posted on 05/06/2005 9:24:26 AM PDT by jimtorr
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To: reagan_fanatic
"I think I broke my scroll wheel going down this one."


10 posted on 05/06/2005 9:29:19 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: ModelBreaker; robowombat
The author has a lot of info but the writing style is turgid and very hard to follow.

As well as using thousands of words in an article that, properly edited, would have been no more than a few hundred.

During the Six Day War, I was in Basic Combat Training at Fort Bliss Texas. The Drill Sergeants were having a field day telling the recruits that they were going to be sent to the Middle East. Therefore, I have more than a passing interest in this subject. However, the plethora of minutia implanted gratuitously within this dissertation rendered any information of elucidation pertaining to the actual detailed activities of the subversive belligerents irrelevant.

11 posted on 05/06/2005 9:46:39 AM PDT by elbucko (California, no guns for the citizens, no sons for the military.)
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To: ModelBreaker
The author's first language is Hebrew and the translation into English shows this. However, read carefully it is full of fascinating revelations both about how the Soviets provoked the 7 day War were fully ready to militarily intervene to clinch victory if their Arab proxies seemed close to succeeding in order to gain a firm foothold at the strategic crossroads of the Middle East. This article goes a long way to totally discredit Donald Neff's widely repeated thesis from 'Warriors for Jerusalem' that the Israelis manipulated inept and foolish Egyptian and Syrian responses to violent Israeli provocations over control of the headwaters of streams flowing into Lake Tiberius. According to this thesis the Israelis knew the Egyptians were just engaging in noisy bluffing actions in the Sinai to save face over not being able to keep the Israelis from beating up on the Syrians in the water war.

Neff's relentlessly anti-Israli interpretation of history since 1947 have gained a lot of traction in academic circles and his clear writing style will unfortunately be more read than this convoluted article written in poorly expressed English. However, this article is important for driving a stake through the 'Jews did it' thesis on the 7 Day War. As piece of the continuing rancor over rights and wrongs in the Israeli-Arab struggle it has contemporary value. Also it shows just how dangerous the Soviets could be.
12 posted on 05/06/2005 9:58:44 AM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat
Long read, but worth the time for those not intellectually inert.
Saving most of it to read later over a glass of sherry.

One nagging feeling persists, after reading the first thousand words or so:

Granted, muslims are not known for rational thoughts and deed, and modern Egyptians are certainly not the sharpest tools in the drawer.
Nevertheless, the Syrians had possession of the Golan heights, it would have been effortless for them actually to walk over and look for themselves if "11 to 13 brigades" were amassed on their border.
Even in 1967, there was a plethora of means of communications, enabling Egypt to verify the astounding claim. Mindles reaction to an easily verifiable indication of major hostilities is a bit much to accept even from the incompetent Egyptian military.

So what's going on here? I hope to learn more after reading the remainder of the article, but I am not optimistic of a satisfying explanation.

13 posted on 05/06/2005 10:19:52 AM PDT by Publius6961 (The most abundant things in the universe are ignorance, stupidity and hydrogen)
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To: Andy from Beaverton
Only 153 footnotes???

That ought to preempt the mindless self-styled intellectuals who know next to nothing but insist on "citations" for the most simple statements of historical fact.

14 posted on 05/06/2005 10:21:59 AM PDT by Publius6961 (The most abundant things in the universe are ignorance, stupidity and hydrogen)
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To: Jimmyclyde


15 posted on 05/06/2005 10:25:16 AM PDT by Jimmyclyde (Dying ain't much of a living boy...)
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To: robowombat


16 posted on 05/06/2005 10:26:48 AM PDT by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: Salem; SJackson; Bombardier; IAF ThunderPilot; Yehuda; Nachum; malakhi; jabotinsky; M 91 u2 K; ...


17 posted on 05/06/2005 10:36:18 AM PDT by Convert from ECUSA (tired of all the shucking and jiving)
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ...
If you'd like to be on this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
18 posted on 05/06/2005 10:49:00 AM PDT by SJackson (The first duty of a leader is to make himself be loved without courting love, Andre Malraux)
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To: Spook86; BIGLOOK; xzins; MineralMan; elfman2; ThanhPhero; xusafflyer; tht73a; NY Attitude; ...

Fascinating reading. Would suggest you use the speed reading skills you have and were taught.

19 posted on 05/06/2005 11:04:15 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (The MSM has been a WMD, Weapon of Mass Disinformation for the Rats for at least 5 decades.)
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To: Grampa Dave

Agreed, but then I like to read Solzhenitsyn. World War 3 really would have started if the Russian troops had landed.

20 posted on 05/06/2005 11:11:22 AM PDT by RKV ( He who has the guns, makes the rules.)
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