File No. 861.48/679

The British Chargé ( Barclay ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1099

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I duly telegraphed to my Government the text of the memorandum enclosed in your letter of September 27, with respect to the disposition for the winter of the American expeditionary forces in Siberia and in Russia, and the sending of supplies for the use of the Czecho-Slovak forces.

[Page 404]

I have now the honour to transmit, herewith, a copy of a telegram which I have received from Mr. Balfour in reply, setting forth the views of His Majesty’s Government in the matter.

Believe me [etc.]

Colville Barclay

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Balfour ) to the Chargé at Washington ( Barclay )

We fully appreciate the attitude of the United States Government and their desire to act in such a matter in accordance with the advice of their military authorities. Our position is, however, a little different to theirs. In the first place our military authorities do not take the same view. So far as they are able to judge, the Czechs, if given the full support of every one of the Allies, might still be able, in conjunction with the forces under General Alexeev, to hold the line of the Volga against any force that is likely to be brought there by our enemies. The position is very obscure and possibly further information might modify their judgment but that is the present view of the case by our soldiers. Apart from this we feel the very greatest reluctance in abandoning elements in Russia loyal to the Allies; General Alexeev, for instance, has fought throughout the war against our enemies and in the early part of it he and his troops rendered essential and heroic services to the Allied cause. Since the revolution he has never wavered and we know he has resisted many approaches from the German side backed though they were by old associations such as Milyukov. We feel, therefore, honourably bound to do our very utmost, even at some risk to our own interests, to come to his assistance. If we were now to ask the Czechs to withdraw to the east of the Urals, that would be to cut off from Alexeev and those with him their last hope of Allied assistance. We therefore propose, subject to any observations that the United States Government may have to make, to present this view of the situation to our French and Japanese Allies and to appeal to them to continue their efforts to stand by our friends in European Russia. We quite recognize that the above considerations do not apply to the United States in the same way as they do to those who fought side by side with the Russians in the early part of the war, and His Majesty’s Government will quite understand it if the United States Government feel unable to take a more active line than that indicated in the telegram under reply. We venture to express the hope that the United States Government will appreciate our position in the matter and will not think it amiss if we endeavour to carry out the task that seems to be imposed upon us by obligations of honour. In short, if they feel unable to assist us beyond the point indicated, we hope they will not discourage our other Allies from helping us.