File No. 861.00/1097

The Department of State to the British Embassy1


The Department of State has given careful consideration to the memoranda of His Britannic Majesty’s Embassy, Nos. 112 and 153, received respectively on January 28 and February 7, 1918, which communicate the opinion of His Britannic Majesty’s Government that recent changes in Russian conditions suggest the need for a change in Allied policy, that certain local organizations appear to have sprung up in south and southeast Russia which, with encouragement and assistance, might do something to prevent Russia from falling immediately and completely under the control of Germany. His Britannic Majesty’s Government call attention furthermore to the fact that the only way in which assistance can be given these organizations is over the Siberian Railway and state that the British General Staff are strongly of opinion that this line ought to be used and that it could be used if the Japanese would give their assistance.

The information collected by His Britannic Majesty’s Government appears to indicate that the Russians would welcome some form of foreign intervention and that it would be more welcome in the shape of the Japanese engaged as mandatories of the Allies with no thought of annexation or future control than in the shape of the Germans who would make Russia orderly by making it German.

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The later memorandum, No. 153, communicates the suggestion of His Britannic Majesty’s Government that if it is decided to approach the Japanese Government on the subject, the opinion of the latter should be invited as to the feasibility of the occupation of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and further as to whether they would be willing to undertake the operation. The memorandum states further that His Britannic Majesty’s Government are of the opinion that, provided the means of transport are available, it would be in the power of the Japanese Army to occupy the whole Trans-Siberian Railway.

The information in the possession of the American Government does not lead it to share the opinion of His Britannic Majesty’s Government that any form of foreign intervention in the affairs of Russia would be welcomed by the people of that country. It is believed on the contrary by the Government of the United States that any foreign intervention in Russian affairs would, at the present time, be most inopportune.

The American Government is not indifferent to the effect which the unfortunate condition of Russia at the present time is having upon the plans of the Allies, but it has not lost hope of a change for the better to be brought about without foreign intervention. Should such intervention unfortunately become necessary in the future, the American Government is disposed at present to believe that any military expedition to Siberia or the occupation of the whole or of a part of the Trans-Siberian Railway should be undertaken by international cooperation and not by any one power acting as the mandatory of the others.

  1. Substance transmitted to the French and Italian Embassies, Feb. 14, and to the Chinese and Belgian Legations, Feb. 18 (File Nos. 861.00/1117a, 1249).