Inside the Kremlin during the Yom Kippur War

Inside the Kremlin during the Yom Kippur War

Inside the Kremlin during the Yom Kippur War

Inside the Kremlin during the Yom Kippur War

Synopsis

"Victor Israelyan was a senior ambassador in the Soviet Foreign Ministry when the armies of Egypt and Syria invaded Israeli-occupied territory on October 6, 1973. Critical to the outcome of this conflict were the Soviet Union and the United States, whose diplomatic maneuverings behind the scenes eventually ended what came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. During the crisis, however, tensions between the superpowers nearly escalated into nuclear war. Israelyan is the first Soviet official to give us a firsthand account of what actually happened inside the Kremlin during these three important weeks in 1973. Israelyan's account is a fascinating mixture of memoir, anecdotes, and historical reporting. As a member of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko's staff, he was assigned to a four-man task force that attended the many Politburo meetings held during the war. The job of this task force was to take notes and prepare drafts of letters and other documents for the Politburo. In remarkable detail, made possible by his sharp memory and the notes and documents he saved, Israelyan chronicles the day-by-day activities of Kremlin leaders as they confronted the crisis. For the first time we can see how the cumbersome Soviet policymaking mechanism, headed by the Politburo, functioned in a tense international situation." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

On October 6, 1973, at 2:00 P.M. Middle East time, Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked the Israeli forces that were occupying Sinai and the Golan Heights. During the next three weeks the most intense fighting since the Second World War took place. Not only were more battle tanks, for example, deployed in Sinai by the Egyptians and Israelis than at the decisive battle of Kursk in 1943, when the Soviet Union crushed Nazi Germany's lingering hopes of victory, but Arab losses of Sovietsupplied combat aircraft and tanks approximated the total frontline strength of all the nations of Western Europe. Israel's losses were comparably high. Indeed, without a major U.S. airlift and resupply by sea, Israel would have run out of critical weapons and ammunition. Certainly developments on the battlefield transformed the political dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Egyptian and Syrian forces performed well in the early days of the fighting, making impressive advances. But the inability of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Syrian President Hafiz Assad to coordinate political strategy or military offensives (their decision to start the war at 2:00 P.M., for example, being a last-minute compromise between Egypt's desire for a later hour and Syria's for an earlier start) led to reversals on the battlefield and ultimately forced them to look again to Moscow to bail them out. The Israelis initially seemed paralyzed by their strategic error in having assumed that the Arabs would not dare attack as long as Israel maintained air superiority, but once they regained their equilibrium and their audacity on the battlefield, they exploited the Egyptian military's mistake in advancing ahead of its protective missile umbrella and rolled back the Egyptian forces. Their counterattack on the Golan Heights proved a tough slog. Arms were used with profligate disregard for cost. Each actor calculated, correctly, that its superpower patron would not permit it to be defeated and would do logistically whatever was necessary.

The oil weapon came of age during the Yom Kippur War (also known as the October War). An oil embargo imposed by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) against the United States and other countries in an effort to exact support for the Arab . . .

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