The Soviet Union tonight sharply attacked President Carter's pledge to take unspecified action to counter the presence of a Soviet combat brigade in Cuba, charging his tone was "ultimatumlike" and "threatening."
The attack by the government news agency Tass came as Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was locked in protracted negotiations in New York with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in an effort to resolve the issue, which has strained U.S.-Soviet relations and endangered ratification of SALT II accords.
Referring to the president's remarks in New York Tuesday, Tass said that he made demands "in an ultimatumlike tone taht the status quo, which has existed for almost two decades now, be changed."
It said that the entire problem surrounding the Soviet combat brigade in Cuba was a propanganda "hullabaloo" that was "diliberately whipped up by circles having a stake in kindling" anti-soviet feelings in the United States.
"It is really absolutely obvious that the Soviet military personnel do not and cannot constitute any threat, either by their numbers or their functions, to the United States or any other state," it said, adding that
"The Soviet personnel are helping the Cuban military to learn the use of Soviet equipment that has been delivered to them."
While the president's statements contain "absolutely unfounded and crude attacks on Cuba's policy." Tass said, Carter at the same time expressed intentions "to continue keeping U.S. troops and numerous military bases in close proximity to the Soviet Union's borders.
Carter, in a "town meeting" in New York Tuesday night, reiterated the American contention that a Soviet force in Cuba is a combat unit, despite Soviet denials. He said he did not know if the current Vance-Gromyko negotiations will be successful.
But, the president said, he will take action "to change the status quo" if the current talks fail.
By attacking the president personally, the Tass commentary tonight appeared to raise the level of Soviet anger about what Moscow calls the campaign of falsehood.
Bromoyko, in a speech before the United Nations Tuesday, dismissed as "artificial" Washington's concern about the Soviet combat brigade and said that "it is high time" that the matter be dropped.
But the Soviet foreign minister refrained from mentioning either the Soviet troops or the United States.
The Tass commentary tonight echoed Gromyko's remarks by saying that THE hue adn cry over this issue has gone on all too long. It is time to end it. That would hlep in seeking solutions to major world problems and would advance the development of relations" between the two superpowers.
In criticizing Carter directly, the Soviets however, appeared to preclude the possibility of any concessions to Washington on the Cuba issue, even though it may threaten Senate ratification of the strategic arms limitation treaty.
Speaking about "unlawfulness" and "inconsistency" of the president, Tass said.
"J. Carter allowed himself to make a number of rude, tactless attacks on Cuba and its policy. The president did not bother himself with giving any facts or evidence.
"While pointing out that the strength of Soviet military personnel in Cuba is now less than in 1963, he virtually did not deny that in the status quo there is nothing new as compared with what has been for many years.
"Having once against emphasized that the situation is not a threat to the security of the U.S. Carter at the same time expressed an intention to press for a change of the status quo. In a threatening tone he warned the students that the United States, you see, can take some action to change the status quo."
Speaking about Carter's "inconsistencies, Tass said that the president, "having come forward with all this assemblage of inventions, attacks and threats," subsequently urged the senators" to ratify SALT II.
Tass made no reference to the current Vance-Dobrynin talks. An editorial in the Communist Party newspaper Pravda on Sept. 11 rejected as "totally groundless" Washington's assertions that a Soviet combat brigade was in Cuba but carefully avoided any criticism of Carter.
A subsequent Tass commentary bitterly denounced Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's national security adviser, but avoided attacks on the president.