File No. 861.00/779

The Consul at Tiflis (Smith) to the Secretary of State


Replying Department’s November 26. Respectfully submit following based on information available here:

If America permits Russian armistice Russian armies can be kept on the front only with financial assistance of the Allies, and provisions, notwithstanding scarcity, would be smuggled in large quantities into Germany as they are now being smuggled into Persia. Thus such assistance would be wasted. If Russia is left entirely to her own resources the country will within brief period come under German domination without use of force on their part; and no matter what government is in power, Russian resources which are now being wasted will be utilized by Germany. The only practicable measure left seems to be to withdraw our interests from that part of Russia which would be of the least service to the Allies and the most embarrassment to the enemy, as indicated in my despatch November 18,1 and to utilize existing force remaining loyal to the Allies which is represented by Rumanian [sic] majority, Russian Cossacks’ forces, and Armenian troops.

This loyalty can only be [assured?] by immediate assistance in money, men, and control and by taking over Siberian Railway. If it is not immediately done all these newly formed states must inevitably, for lack currency and in self-defense, shortly submit to Maximalist government. Cossacks are reported to be withdrawing from front with declared object of keeping order therein. From lack of support they have lost confidence in their strength. Only the most energetic and stringent measures can prevent German domination [Page 585] throughout Russia and utilization Russia’s resources against the Allies. Demoralization and disorganization attained by army and entire country since General Scott visited Russia incredible and only moral fear of Germany or a demonstration of force by the Allies can bring about order by supporting states opposed to Maximalists. The Allies would be supporting both Russian union and democracy against absolute dependence of Russia on Germany.

Election returns throughout Russia so far published would seem to indicate Cadet plurality but if [omission] Cadets obtain control of national assembly, Maximalists declare it [they] will dissolve assembly. This threat can be carried out as only radicals have force behind them. Do not think any reliance can be placed in an agreement not to return German prisoners or in any other obligations at present assumed by any likely Russian government; any agreement would only embarrass the Allies and it would be wiser to reserve freedom of action. I do not exclude possibility of Germany’s using Russian troops against the Allies. The Prime Minister of Trans-Caucasus told me to-day his government might be able to hold out for a short time but forces unpaid. Russian army on this front and total lack funds might oblige this government to recognize Maximalists and follow their lead notwithstanding that entire population is opposed to the latter. This would involve loss of Armenia and render most likely the concentration of Turkish-German forces against British in Bagdad. Am not certain of success if policy submitted is adopted but it appears to offer less risk than any other alternative and would certainly afford greatest embarrassment to the enemy chiefs. British and French military mission here agree with the above conclusions and believe it of the utmost importance to confer with governments separate states south Russia with the object of placing before them definite proposals.

Please instruct me as to position I shall assume towards the three governments in this district. To avoid delay and insure delivery, telegrams should be sent via Eastern, Bombay.

  1. No despatch of this date is on file; for telegram of Nov. 18, see ante, p. 581.