Soviets Reported Moving More Air, Naval Units to Mediterranean

Authoritative Administrative sources arriving here for the Democratic National Convention reported today that Soviet Russia was moving additional naval and air units to the Eastern Mediterranean, presumably to be based in Egypt. The sources indicated that Washington believed the move could have ramifications in the Middle East crisis although it was ostensibly directed against Yugoslavia which supported the liberal regime of deposed Czech Communist Party chief Alexander Dubcek and has denounced the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia.

Leading Democratic senators briefed by President Johnson and others in recent days acknowledged here that Washington was deeply concerned with these developments. But, they indicated, the Administration’s initial response appears to be to avoid a confrontation by ruling out closer U.S. identification with Israel which Secretary of State Dean Rusk believes would cause an automatic alignment of all Arab states behind Russia and shatter U.S. diplomacy throughout the Moslem world. One prominent senator said that the chance of White House action on the sale of F-4 Phantom jets to Israel was injured rather than improved by the new mood of United States caution arising from the Czech crisis.

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