SOVIET MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO ETHIOPIA PREDICTED: Original Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

Posted: Febraayo 28, 2015 in DIINIGA

SUMMARY: SOVIET MINISTER-COUNSELOR SINITSIN HAS INDI- CATED TO POLCOUNS HIS EXPECTATION THAT USSR WOULD SHORTLY AGREE TO PROVIDE MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO ETHIOPIA.

SINITSIN WAS NOT PREPARED TO CONFIRM REPORTS CIRCULATING ADDIS THAT HIGH-LEVEL ETHIOPIAN DELEGATION, HEADED BY MOND PERMSEC KIFLE WORKU AND INCLUDING MOFA PERMSEC GETACHEW KIBRET, WOULD TRAVEL TO MOSCOW NEXT WEEK FOR PURPOSE OF FOLLOWING UP EARLIER REQUESTS FOR MILITARY ASSISTANCE AND WORKING OUT DETAILS OF ARMS SALES AGREE- MENT.

HE INDICATED, HOWEVER, THAT SOVIET UNION HAD EX- AMINED ETHIOPIAN REQUEST IN TERMS OF ITS BILATERAL IN- TERESTS VIS-A-VIS ETHIOPIA AND OF ITS LARGER IN- CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 ADDIS 11661 121529Z TERESTS IN THE HORN, INCLUDING THOSE OF FRIENDLY COUNTRIES IN AREA, AND HAD DECIDED THAT IT COULD BE RESPONSIVE TO LEGITIMATE EPMG DEFENSEIVE REQUIRE- MENTS WITHOUT ESCALATING PROSPECTS OF SOMALI- ETHIOPIAN HOSTILITIES, WHICH HE CHARACTERIZED AS HAVING SUBSIDED SINCE 1974 REVOLUTION. END SUMMARY.

1. DURING CONVERSATION OVER LUNCH, POLCOUNS ASKED SINITSIN WHETHER, GIVEN GROWING ETHIOPIAN PROPEN- SITY TO BROADEN ITS TRADE, CULTURAL, AND POLITICAL RELATIONS TO INCLUDE ALL COUNTRIES ON MORE EVEN BASIS, EPMG WAS SEEKING TO OBTAIN MILITARY ARMS OR EQUIPMENT FROM USSR. SINITSIN CONFIRMED THAT SUCH REQUESTS WERE BEING GIVEN SERIOUS CONSIDERATION IN MOSCOW.

WHILE KEEPING IN MIND THAT US WOULD PROB- ABLY CONTINUE TO BE PRINCIPAL SUPPLIER OF MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO ETHIOPIA AND NOT WISHING TO DISRUPT US-EPMG RELATIONSHIP, IT WAS HIS UNDERSTANDING THAT SOVIET GOVT WAS PREPARED TO RESPOND POSI- TIVELY TO EPMG REQUESTS, SO LONG AS THESE COULD BE JUSTIFIED STRICTLY IN TERMS OF PROVIDING ADEQUATELY FOR NATIONAL SELF-DEFENSE. SINITSIN’S REMARKS WERE COUCHED IN MANNER WHICH CLEARLY ASSUMED US EMBASSY AWARE OF REPORTED DEPARTURE NEXT WEEK FOR MOSCOW OF EPMG DELEGATION FOR PURPOSE OF DISCUSS- ING ARMS PROCUREMENT, BUT HE WAS CAREFUL NOT TO CONFIRM DETAILS OF VISIT.

2. WHEN ASKED HOW ARMS SALES TO ETHIOPIA COULD BE RECONCILED WITH USSR’S OBLIGATIONS TO SOMALIA, SINIT- SIN MAINTAINED, NOT VERY CONVINCINGLY, THAT SOMALI- ETHIOPIAN CONTROVERSY IS NO LONGER AS ACRIMONIOUS AS IN PAST. CHANGES THAT HAD OCCURRED IN ETHIOPIA SINCE REVOLUTION HAD BROUGHT TWO COUNTRIES CLOSER TOGETHER IDEOLOGICALLY. IN HIS VIEW, NEITHER COUNTRY HAD CAPABILITY OF FIGHTING ALL-OUT WAR FOR MORE THAN FEW DAYS, AND AWARENESS OF THIS FACT ON BOTH SIDES MADE OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES UNLIKELY.

3. COMMENT: THIS IS FIRST FIRM INDICATION FROM SOVIET SOURCE THAT SOVIETS ARE NOW READY TO ENTER CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 ADDIS 11661 121529Z  INTO ARMS AGREEMENT WITH EPMG, ALTHOUGH IT STILL REMAINS TO BE SEEN WHETHER ITEMS THAT WILL BE OFFERED AND TERMS OF SALE WILL PROVIDE SUFFICIENTLY ATTRACTIVE TO ETIOPIANS TO ENABLE COMPLETION OF AGREEMENT ON THIS VISIT. SINITSIN APPEARS TO BE WHISTLING IN DARK WHEN HE SUGGESTS THAT SOMALIA WILL SIT PASSIVELY BY AND LET HER PRINCIPAL ARMS BENEFACTOR PROVIDE AID AND COMFORT TO ENEMY, BUT ONE COULD ALSO INFER FROM HIS REMARKS THAT USSR HAD NOT ONLY DONE SOME HARD THINKING ABOUT SOMALIA’S LIKELY REACTION SINCE CAPT MOGUS’S VISIT TO MOSCOW IN JULY, BUT MAY ALSO HAVE SOUNDED OUT SOMALIS ON SUBJECT. TIENKEN CONFIDENTIAL

http://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1976ADDIS11661_b.html

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