The Kremlin last night accused President Carter of distorting Soviet aims abroad as an excuse to bolster U.S. armaments and said his speech on U.S. strategic policy yesterday is "a testimony to a departure from the solution of . . . vital problems."
The officials news agency Tass declared on response to the president's speech that a dual policy of a strengthened military and cooperation with the Soviet Union is "incompatible".
This was unusually fast in issuing a commentary on the Carter speech.
"From the essence of the president speech it follows that [it] actually means a shift of emphasis in American foreign policy from the earlier proclaimed course toward ensuring national security of the U.S. through negotiations, through limiting the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] race and deepening detente to a course of threats and buildup of tension," Tass declared.
Tass said the president's address at Wake Forest University in North Carolina attempted to "justify" new weapons programs by alleging "a Soviet military threat and alleged also that the U.S.S.R. interferes in local conclicts." It said Carter "grossly distorts" the Soviet aim of assisting African countries.
Earlier yesterday, the official Communist Party newspaper Pravda reiterated recent Soviet assertions that "certain persons" in the United States seek to prevent agreement on a new treaty to limit strategic weapons. The publication asserted that the "U.S. obstructionist position stalled the process" of implementing the 1974 Vladivostok agreement between Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev and President Gerald R. Ford.
"When one ponders on [the] involved and contradictory statements made of late in Washington, including the White House, the question arises whether the recent past is not being repeated," Pravda said. It said "the idea is being persistently instilled" in American public opinion that a strategic arms agreement must be "connected with other unrelated matters, for instance, the Horn of Africa".
The Soviet comments and criticisms come at a time when the Kremlin has successfully intervened in the Horn on behalf of the Ethiopians and harshly condemned Israel's military action against Lebanon. The Soviets have long wanted to achieve a strategic accord with the United States, but have insisted it is up to the Americans to make some concessions to get an agreement.