The Soviet Union today bitterly denounced President Carter's responses to the invasion of Afghanistan, saying they are "borrowed from the Cold War arsenal, a flagrant violation of [U.S.] commitments" to the Soviets.
In a dispatch from Washington 12 hours Carter's nationally-televised announcement of sharp cuts in U.S. grain shipments and other new restrictions, the official Tass news agency declared, "The administration's fierce reaction is prompted by the failure by plans to convert [Afghanistan] into an anti-Soviet stronghol of U.S. policy."
But there was no threat here of any contermeasures against the United States answers to Carter's unilaternal actions.
Although Carter announced Thursday, that he has asked the Senate to delay a ratification vote on the strategic arms limitation treaty (SALT II) because of the invasion, the Soviets have not said if they intend any similar action of their own. The two countries now abide by the terms of the expired SALT I pact, and the White House has said it will respect the proposed arms limits of SALT II pending a final Senate vote.
The Tass triade today is the latest in a series of tough personal denunciations of Carter over the Afghan crisis. They have plunged U.S.-Soviet relations to their lowest point since the exuberant high at the signing of the original arms treaty in 1972 in Moscow.
The Soviets accused Carter of "calumniating the Soviet Union and the assistance it renders Afghanistan." and said he "tried to create a false impression that the U.S.S.R. pursues goals apart from support to Afghanistan in repulsing the external aggression" directed there by Washington and Peking.
Tass declared Carter "used inventions" about the Soviet intervention "as a pretext" to curtail bilateral exchanges, stop the sale of high-technology electronics and machinery, embargo 17 million tons of U.S. grain the Soviets have contracted to buy and restrict Soviet fishing rights in American waters. His actions, the Kremlin agency said, "confirm that the U.S. administration disregards the interests of positive development of Soviet-American cooperation."
The Soviets reiterated their position that the United States has manufactured a propaganda barrage over Afghanistan to divert world attention from aggressive U.S. moves against Iran, where the American hostages held in the U.S. Embassy are in their third month of captivity. Tass said Carter in his address neglected to mention "Iran's legitimate demands" for the return of the shah and recovery "of the wealth he plundered and settled in U.S. banks."
Kremlin watchers here have been frustrated and increasingly puzzled that no one from the 14-member ruling Politburo has yet surfaced publicly to speak about the military action that brough a new pro-Moscow leader, ybabrak Karmal, to power in Kabul Dec. 27. In its official media, the Soviets maintain the action was sought by the Afghans.
The United States and many others have labeled the move an illegal Soviet putsch to capture Afghanistan and threaten Iran, Pakistan and other south Asian countries. The Communist Party daily Pravda seemed to be laying groundwork for possible armed incursions into Pakistan by military units from Afghanistan, accusing Pakistan of active support of Moslem rebels fighting the invaders.
Tass called NATO plans for increased missile deployment in Western Europe as well as a new Pentagon quick deployment force, the kind of "imperialist actions of the U.S. ruling circles that are creating threats to peace. Carter . . . cannot conceal from people the aggressive military essence of the foreign policy course he adopted." The State Department said yesterday that the Soviets have refused a NATO arms talks offer, demanding the deployment decision first be reversed.
Soviet denunciations today also accused Carter of aiding "CIA agent" Hafizullah Amin who deposed original Kabul Marxist leader Nur Mohammed Taraki in September and later was hailed by Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev as Afghanistan's true leader. Amin was executed after Karmal's Soviet-supported coup.
"The U.S. president takes under his protection butcher Amin who annihilated thousands of upright Afghans," Tass alleged, and added that new U.S. arms sales to Pakistan are "intended to encourage incursion into Afghan territory from the outside."
Tass added Saudi Arabia to the list of alleged subversionists, alongside Britian, China, Egypt, the United States and Pakistan. Pravda, meanwhile, accused Carter of "the renewed doctrine of bellicose hegemonism, with Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, Somalia and some other Arab countries as strongpoints. In Washington, they would very much like to have Afghanistan among them.'