Soviet Policy in the October 1973 War

by William B. Quandt

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In examining the role of the Soviets in the October 1973 War, the author seeks to provide an understanding of Soviet capabilities for dealing with an acute international crisis. Evidence suggests that the Soviet objectives were to maintain their credibility as a superpower capable of defending the interests of its clients, and to avoid direct military confrontation with the United States. The Soviets quickly developed a policy designed to minimize the risks of an Arab defeat and a superpower confrontation. They adapted to the unfolding events on the battlefield by alternately emphasizing diplomatic efforts to end the fighting on terms favorable to their clients and sending arms to prevent a military debacle. As the situation worsened for the Arabs, the Soviets pressed for a rapid end to hostilities. Their tactical intelligence, as well as their overall assessment of the military balance, appears to have been of comparatively high quality.

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