File No. 763.72/4389

The Russian Chargé ( Onou) to the Secretary of State

No. 343

Mr. Secretary of State: The Provisional Russian Government, on March 27 of this year,2 published a manifesto to the citizens in which it set forth, the views of free Russia’s Government on the aims of the present war.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs directs me to communicate to you the said document and to accompany it with the following remarks:

Our enemies have lately been endeavoring to sow dissension among the Allies by propagating inane reports about the alleged intention of Russia to conclude a separate peace with the Central Monarchies. The text of the enclosed document will best refute such fabrications. The general principles therein enunciated by the Provisional Government are in entire agreement with the lofty ideas that have constantly been proclaimed to the most recent hour by eminent statesmen in the Allied countries. Those principles have also been given luminous expression in the words of the President of our latest ally, the great Republic beyond the seas. The government of the old régime in Russia assuredly was not in a position to imbibe and share those views on the liberating character of the war, the creation of a stable basis for the pacific cooperation of the peoples, the liberties of oppressed nations, etc. Emancipated Russia can now speak a language that will be understood by modern democracies and hastens to mingle her voice with those of her allies. Imbued with this new spirit of a freed democracy, the Provisional Government’s declarations cannot of course afford the slightest ground for the deduction that the collapse of the old edifice means a lesser share taken by Russia in the common struggle of all the Allies. Quite to the contrary, the national will to carry on the World War to a decisive victory has been still further accentuated by that sense [Page 54] of responsibility which now rests upon all jointly and severally. This tendency has been rendered even more active by the fact that it is centered on the immediate task which all have so much at heart—that of driving back the enemy who invaded the territory of our fatherland. It remains understood, and the enclosed document expressly so states, that the Provisional Government, while safeguarding the rights acquired by its country, will continue the strict observance of the engagements assumed toward Russia’s allies. Firmly convinced of the victorious outcome of the present war, and in perfect accord with its allies, the Provisional Government is equally sure that the problems arising out of this war will be solved by means of the creation of a firm basis of a lasting peace and that, inspired by identical sentiments, the allied democracies will find means of obtaining the guarantees and sanctions, needed to prevent a recurrence of sanguinary conflicts in the future.

Be pleased to accept [etc.]

C. Onou

Proclamation of the Provisional Government

The Provisional Government, having looked into the military situation of Russia, has decided in the name of its duty to the country to give the people straightforwardly the whole truth. The power that has now been overthrown left the defense of the country in a difficult and disorganized situation. Through its guilty inaction and unskilful measures it disorganized our finances, supply service, transportation, and the furnishing of the army with ammunition. It has shaken our whole economic organization. The Provisional Government, with the lively and active cooperation of the whole people, will devote its entire strength to repairing those weighty consequences of the old regime. There is, however, but little time. The blood of many sons of the fatherland has been lavishly spilt in the course of these two and one-half long years of war, yet the country is still under the power of the mighty enemy who occupies whole territories of our state and in these present days of the birth of Russian freedom threatens us with another decisive onslaught. The defense, at any cost, of our national patrimony and the liberation of the country from the enemy who has invaded our borderlands constitute a capital and vital problem for our warriors who are defending the freedom of the people. Leaving it to the will of the people, in close union with our allies, finally to settle all questions relative to the World War and its conclusion, the Provisional Government deems it its right and duty to declare here and now that free Russia does not aim to dominate other peoples and deprive them of their national patrimony, to occupy foreign territories by force, but to establish a firm peace on the foundation of the right of peoples to determine their own destiny. The Russian people do not covet any [Page 55] accession of power abroad at the expense of other peoples, do not aim to subjugate or degrade any one. In the name of the higher principles of equity it has removed the shackles that weighted down the Polish people. But the Russian people do not admit that their country should come out of the great struggle debased or shaken in its vital forces. These principles will form the basis of the foreign policy of the Provisional Government, which unfailingly carries out the will of the people and safeguards the rights of our country, while abiding by the pledges given to our allies. The Provisional Government of free Russia has no right to hide the truth from the people—the state is in danger. Every element of strength must be brought into play to save it. Let the country respond to that truth, not with a futile depression and discouragement, but with a unanimous élan arising out of the creation of a unified national will. It will give us renewed strength for this struggle and will secure our salvation. May the whole country, in the trying hour of ordeal, find within itself the needed strength to consolidate the freedom that has been conquered and devote itself to untiring labor for the welfare of free Russia. The Provisional Government, which has taken a solemn oath to serve the people, is firmly convinced that with the general and unanimous support of each and every one it will be in a position to fulfil its duty to the country to the very end.

Prince Lvoff
President of the Council
  1. The date on which this note was sent out by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, for communication to the American and Allied Governments, was May 1, and it is generally referred to as of that date in historical accounts and in the discussion which followed in Russia; see despatch from the Consul in Petrograd, No. 300, May 8, Foreign Relations, 1918, Russia, Vol. I, p. 42.
  2. Old style; April 9, new style.