File No. 861.00/488
The Russian Ambassador ( Bakhmeteff ) to the Secretary of State
[A copy of the following telegram was left at the Department of State on September 5, 1917, by the Secretary attached to the Russian Embassy (Sookine):]
The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Tereshchenko ) to the Ambassador at Washington
Petrograd, August 19/September 1, 1917.
In convoking representatives of all organizations to the Moscow conference in the hope of finding support of all vital elements of the country, the Provisional Government was conscious of the difficulties it would have to surmount’ in creating a general national unity of such heterogeneous forces. The first day of the conference seemed to justify these fears. The declaration of the Government evidenced that it had to take an attitude of compromise manifesting a certain weakness, owing to the necessity of seeking a medium path and was received coldly, especially by the right wing of the conference, which had formed in advance an irreconcilable opposition. This group consisted principally of members of the four Dumas and of representatives of commerce and industry, as well as a part of the army representatives. It was headed by the Constitutional Democrats.
The second day revealed the deepness of divergencies of the different currents; after the speech of General Kornilov the chief question became what measures should be taken for the strengthening of the army’s fighting power. On this subject, as well as concerning questions of the general political and economic situation, a real struggle took place between the Constitutional Democrats and the more conservative elements on one hand, and the representatives of the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies and socialist parties on the other. Noteworthy is the fact that the Cadets led the attack; whereas, the left spoke in a conciliatory tone, realizing its weakness as a result of the utter failure of the policy of the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies. The leader of the left, Tseretelli, deliberately offered to enter an agreement with the opponents. Whereupon, Milyukov gave an uncertain answer, evading any conflict with his old position. Nevertheless, at the end of the second day it became apparent that the most acute-moments had been overcome and that there could be no possibility of a rupture.
The third day, which began by bitter discord in connection with General Alexeev’s speech, who was attacked by representatives of the army’s committees, finally led to an even greater unity of views than had been attained on the day before.
The declaration of the commercial and industrial group, which had theretofore acted in unity with the Cadets, turned out to be more conciliatory, as also did the speech of Ryabuzhinski, whose opposition before the conference had [Page 181] been very bitter. On behalf of the commercial and industrial group, Bublikov declared they were willing to come to an agreement with the left and thereupon shook hands with Tseretelli, rousing thereby enthusiastic ovations on the part of the entire audience. This spirit was reenforced by the conciliatory speech of Plekhanov.
In general, one can state that if the conference did not lead to full unity, nevertheless, without doubt, its results are very satisfactory. For the first time has the whole nation spoken and the extreme currents met with the definite wish of the majority to come to an understanding. The general tone and character of the speeches were imbued by the endeavor of creating one general national unity. All the orators spoke of the “Mother Country,” and not a single doubt was expressed as to the necessity or possibility of waging war. The principal subject was how best to organize the nation’s defense and the differences were not in the aspiration, but only in the means of attainment. Nevertheless, if the results of the conference did prove to be favorable to the Government, such results did not encompass a complete victory. But these negative features are counterbalanced by the great effort to general national unity which originated at the conference. I consider it necessary to absolutely deny the rumor spread by certain sources that there is divergency of views between the Government and the Commanders in Chief. In view of the present exceptionally complex conditions, the Government deems it impossible to effect any changes in the commanding personnel, in consideration of any particular political views whatsoever.