File No. 861.00/2858

The French Ambassador ( Jusserand ) to the Secretary of State 2


Mr. Secretary of State: As your excellency knows, I have had by order of my Government the honor to expound to the President of the United States and to yourself the grave reasons which led us to believe that the progress of events in Russia was such as to justify an additional effort, very limited to be sure, in Murmania, so as to turn to account the gains already made and prevent dangerous setbacks.

With the President we hold that the whole American effort properly should be brought to bear at the French front where the war will be won, since our archenemy’s forces are massed there. No one can have an interest superior to our own in a final victory on that battle field since it will mark, for us in particular, the hour of a long-awaited deliverance.

It seems to us however that that hour would not be delayed, but in all likelihood brought nearer, on the contrary, if we did not allow the elements of success we command elsewhere, and which could be turned to profitable advantage through a very slight increase of the present effort, to run to waste. The less secure the Germans feel themselves in the east the more difficult will it be for them to swell their armies and reserves on our front. We have agreed with the President in entirely giving up every idea of reorganizing an [Page 545] eastern front, but it strikes us there would be a very great advantage to all concerned in taking measures to prevent the food products of Siberia and metals of the Ural from reaching the Bolsheviki and through them the Germans. The hardest part of that task has already been accomplished, thanks to the admirable action of the Czechs who, isolated in a vast country, have succeeded without outside help in rescuing the whole of the Trans-Siberian for the benefit of the parties of order and justice. Very little would need be done firmly to establish that conquest and do for the still more important stores of Siberia what we have done for the stores of Archangel and Vladivostok.

That little, according to the information gathered by the military command there, would consist in adding nine battalions to the forces now in northern Russia; England is furnishing four. We would wish the United States kindly to furnish the other five. This increase of forces would make it possible to achieve two objects the importance of which is to us obvious: first, the defense of Murmania, the essential basis of ice-free communications against a German attack from Finland, which it would be very dangerous passively to await; next an advance from Archangel to give a hand to the Czechs and make a reality of the above-mentioned barrage through the occupation of Vologda and Perm.

Marshal Foch, whose advice was sought on the subject, answered (as I have already had occasion to remark orally) in his note of September 12, that by reason of the great results which apparently may be achieved at this time with a limited force in northern Russia, the Marshal Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies deems it advantageous to send five battalions of American troops direct to Archangel from America.

The members of the Versailles council, on the other hand, appear to have considered the same question without having more recent data and on the mere strength of the previous decision of the War Supreme Council which contemplated, in case difficulty arose, a stay of operations during the winter, when bases of action would be merely maintained at Vladivostok and Archangel. Their opinion however has not been approved by their governments as it should have been under the existing agreements and therefore can not prevail.

Upon the immediate carrying out of the measures which I have again the honor most earnestly to urge upon your excellency, on account of the time of the year, depend not only the mastery of the ways of communication, toward which the Czechs have already done the main work (and, in the opinion of my Government, our failure to do the rest would hardly be excusable), but also a stiffening of [Page 546] the orderly elements which appear to grow more consistent in Russia and portend a reawakening which might be fraught with consequences for the present and future.

Be pleased to accept [etc.]

  1. See also telegram No. 1899, Sept. 15, from the Ambassador in Great Britain, ante, p. 538.