Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev sharply condemned the United States tonight for encouraging the Persian Gulf war, but offered no Soviet initiatives to end it, nor threats to intervene if it does not cease.
In a Kremlin speech, the 73-year-old Communist Party chief, without naming the United States, declared: "Some people are obviously trying to turn this conflict to their profit. They are those who want to establish their control over Middle East oil, who again dream of turning Iran into a military base and genarme post of imperialism."
Brezhnev's remarks, in a toast at a state dinner for Indian President N. Sanjiva Reddy, closely followed official propaganda which has accused Washington of allegedly fomenting the conflict with Chinese connivance. "Neither Iraq nor Iran will gain anything from mutual destruction, bloodshed and undermining each other's economy," he asserted. "It is only the third side that stands to gain."
He reiterated the Kremlin's call to both sides to cease hostilities and negotiate. However, he suggested no forum or formula for this, and made no mention of the 1972 friendship treaty under which the Soviets supply arms to Baghdad. Tehran has sought unsuccessfully to have Moscow its arms shipments and condemn Iraq as the aggressor.
Brezhnev's toast was made apparently a short time before the Carter administration announced that four U.S. radar aircraft are being dispatched to Saudi Arabia to help protect the Middle East's largest oil producer from possible attack by Iranian jets. Tehran has threatened attack against any Arab state supporting Iraq.
Instead, he said U.S. naval forces in the Indian Ocean "hang permanently like a sword of Damocles over the independent states of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea basin," saying this is the principal source of "dangerous tension in the world today."
Many observers here believe that the longer the war goes on, the more the Kremlin will gain because of disruptions in oil supplies to the capitalist countries. So far, Iraqi battlefield gains have demonstrated the potency of Soviet arms when used by a well-supplied force, according to those sources a lesson the Kremlin is eager to make clear.