A Foreign Ministry official, speaking at a press conference several hours before the U.S. raids, said today that the Soviet Union was doing "everything possible" to stop what he called U.S. aggression against Libya.
But the official, Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Kornienko, did not say what Moscow had done to press its views on the United States. "Our commitment is not to allow aggression," he said. "That position has prevailed in our contacts with the United States."
[The Soviet news agency Tass, in Moscow's first official reaction to the raids, accused the United States of committing "state terrorism," Reuter reported early Tuesday from London. "American imperialism has perpetrated a new bloody crime," Tass said.]
The Soviet Union took a stern but cautious approach to the last crisis off the Libyan coast, when U.S. warships were firing back at Libya's Soviet-supplied missiles. At that time, Moscow offered its old ally in Tripoli rhetorical support but indicated it would not go further in a confrontation with the Americans.
At today's press conference, the Soviet chief of staff, Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, dodged a question about Soviet casualties during the recent U.S. firing on Soviet-manned SA5 installations in Libya.
"The Soviet Union is always concerned about Soviet people wherever they are. We have that concern in Libya," he said. Akhromeyev said the Soviet Union has military specialists in Libya who are there to maintain and operate equipment and train personnel.
"In the event of aggression, of course, they will come under fire and, together with Libyans, run risks," Akhromeyev said.
Following a position taken in the Soviet press during the recent Libyan crisis, Akhromeyev drew a connection between the U.S. threats against Libya and a nuclear test explosion in Nevada last Thursday.
"I see a connection of a single political line, not to allow military tension to decrease," he said, charging that the United States uses military tension to pursue the arms race and to achieve military superiority over the Soviet Union.
At the press conference, officials said the Soviets will end an eight-month testing moratorium, but they gave no date or details on the first blast.