File No. 763.72/8249

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State


8037. Your 6051, December 17, 6 p.m. Cecil informs me that British Government authorized one of its agents to spend £10,000,000, another to spend a similar sum, and a third to spend an indeterminate sum to help towards military organization and equipment if they think that these military efforts in south Russia are promising enough to warrant such help. I telegraphed this to you for Crosby in my 7999, December 18, 6 p.m.

Concerning the action proposed by our Minister at Jassy, Cecil intimated the hope that you would approve it provided you have confidence in military and financial judgment of our Minister and military attaché and in their knowledge of the situation.

I infer from my conversation with Cecil and from the conference that Crosby and I had with Bonar Law that they think the chance of success by these southern Russians too important to neglect but they confessed to a lack of knowledge themselves of the situation and [Page 596] were consequently in some doubt about the wisdom of their [course?]. It is a chance that they were afraid to let pass, for it is the only chance for any Russian resistance to Germany or even for holding off the Germans from the coal fields and mines and harvests of south Russia.

… informs me that in his opinion the Cossacks will win and will set up a permanent government. His conviction is that these southern groups are far more important and far stronger than all the rest of Russia. He tells me that if the Germans secure southern Russia they will have not only the mineral and coal and grain of that region but they will have also a better route to Asia than the Bagdad region by Constantinople. His opinion is that the Germans do not expect to keep what they have won in the west but that their main military purpose now is, and has been from the first, to secure southern Russia and the old route to Asia. If they win this they will win the empire that they want and can easily afford to give up Belgium and all other western conquests. This man is trying to persuade the British to send Indian troops to southern Russia and to give the most generous financial support.

The British Government, I am sure, would welcome such financial help by us as our Minister at Jassy proposes but they are so ignorant themselves of the exact situation that they have a timid attitude towards the problem, yet their agents there all seem to agree in substance with the opinion of. … It is this British tone of timidity that has made me timid in forming an opinion.

Thomson, who spent months in Petrograd, thinks the Bolsheviks will win. … who has spent many years in Russia, regards them as revolutionary irresponsibles and the Cossacks as the coherent organized ultimate masters of Russia. I pursue my inquiries daily.