File No. 763.72/4530

The Russian Chargé ( Onou ) to the Secretary of State

No. 300

Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honour, by instruction of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to transmit to Your Excellency herewith the text of a communication addressed to the Government of the United States on behalf of the Russian Government. This communication, signed by Messrs. Goutchkow, Markow and Lwoff, Minister President, has reference to the pressing needs of the naval defence of the Arctic coast of Russia.

Accept [etc.]

C. Onou
[Page 33]
[Enclosure]

The Russian Government to the Government of the United States

Naval Defence of the Arctic Coast of Russia

Owing to the fact that the Russian Fleet is locked in closed seas the defence of the Arctic coast of Russia represents a most difficult task now aggravated by the presence of enemy submarines in these waters and the Russian Government is in great need of patrol and despatch vessels in order to cope with this menace. Unfortunately the many restrictions made by the neutrals and the financial side of the question made the acquisition of ships and arming themi abroad a very difficult problem—in fact a problem which we did not manage to solve. Now that the United States have in every way joined the efforts of the Allies, the Russian Government is most hopeful that they will come to assist us in this matter which is one of the most pressing and vital nature for the Allied cause.

Our immediate needs are:

1.
There are 3 ships already negotiated for and actually in American waters which it is most important to have armed and fitted out for service in Arctic waters as soon as possible. Besides we require 7 armed patrol vessels—or seagoing yachts—7 armed transports of 1,000–2,000 tons capacity, and 20 armed trawlers, these latter to arrive in our Arctic waters as soon as possible. Patrol vessels are in fact required at once and the remainder not later than the opening of the navigation in the White Sea …,1 and May, N.S.
2.
For the moment we have not got a single destroyer in the north. Two ships of that class which rendered most important services last winter are actually undergoing a refitting and will not be ready for some time and 4 more destroyers under way to the Arctic Ocean are actually crossing the Indian Ocean. Until these arrive we are totally lacking in efficient weapons against submarines and if the United States could see their way to send us at once say 4 destroyers joined by an equal number of armed patrol vessels such assistance would be priceless. The Arctic route is the only one opened for supply ships to European Russia and the security of this route is of an enormous importance to the Allies’ cause.

The Russian Government therefore hopes that you will rightly appreciate the situation and that the United States will not fail to join their forces to those of the Allies and bring us an efficient help in meeting the above requirements.

  • Goutchkow
  • Markow
  • Lwoff , Minister President
  1. Omission indicated in the original.