Argentina admits 'contact' with Soviet ships

The presence of two Soviet combat ships and one auxiliary vessel in the South Atlantic close to elements of the British armada is one of the major spinoffs of the current Argentine-British struggle over the Falkland Islands.

The Soviet ships, which are reportedly some 1,000 miles from the Falklands at time of writing, but within range of British ships, are seen here as part of a growing Soviet interest in this part of the world.

The Argentine military junta has found that some of its strongest support in its continuing struggle with Britain has come from the Soviet Union - and articles about Soviet newspaper accounts of the struggle are prominently displayed in the local press and over radio and televison here.

Moreover, the Soviet Union's continuing purchases of wheat, corn, and other grains have kept the Argentine export economy from collapsing with the cutoff of sales to Britain and the European Community.

At the moment Argentina has a trade surplus with the Soviet Union of more than $2 billion.

But it is the activity of the Soviet ships that is causing most comment here.

The size of the ships and their capabilities are only speculated on here, but the reports of their presence - and contact with Argentine naval vessels - continue to make headlines in Buenos Aires and to be commented on by military officials.

''We know where they are and what they are doing,'' said a military source here. ''We are in contact with them.''

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