File No. 763.72/8352

The Ambassador in France (Sharp) to the Secretary of State


2955. From Crosby for Lansing and McAdoo:

209[29?]. Russia and Rumania. At conference held here between Lord Robert Cecil, Lord Milner, and French representatives, agreement reached that French agents should give general direction to [Page 598] political moves in Rumania and Ukraine, English agents in Caucasus and Persia, with mixed direction not antagonist [sic] defined for Province of the Don. Reports from Russia still much confused. General theory of action is substantially this: that by support of anti-Bolshevik organizations the time of establishing general peace between Germany and whole of Russia will be delayed with corresponding delay in German enjoyment of Russian resources. It is fully recognized that movement in southern Russia against Petrograd authority caused rather by differences in regard to internal Russian questions than because of desire to continue war with Germany. Ukraine may insist upon making its own peace terms if possible independently of Petrograd. Leaders in Ukraine may resist application of land doctrines advocated in Petrograd, but it is not expected they will be willing to make the great sacrifices involved in continuing military resistance to Germany and Austria unless extraordinary hardships should appear in terms peace proposed by Germany.

It is clear to me that British action in Persia and Armenia largely dictated by special interests of Great Britain some of which grew out of ante bellum operations and none of which have any relation to the Great War. It is also clear that in respect to Rumania both French and British are acting partly from feeling that Rumania was compromised and ruined by the failure of Allied Governments, chiefly Russia, to fulfil promises and that their present and future interest with Rumania require effort and perhaps sacrifice beyond the requirements of war considered alone. They will therefore be tempted to do all and much more [than] present war conditions suggest and may make undertakings to which our Government would be indifferent or perhaps even unwilling to adopt. …

Answering their inquiry here and in London as to what plans had been made to realize in the hands of southern Russian organizations the large credits authorized to be offered, find no practical steps have been taken in this respect. Enormous difficulty of accomplishing actual delivery of funds is just now being appreciated. The support of southern Russian movements tends in itself to destroy the value of ruble which in fact is an evidence of debt of the Russian Government now centralized at Petrograd. Am convinced if southern Russian movement attains large proportions financing must be done by issues of paper money by some sovereign Russian government guaranteed by Allies. All this requires much machinery and capable men for accomplishment. Unless plans properly made beforehand large promises of help which cannot be practically realized may result in ill feeling and sense of deception in Russia and Rumania. Rumanian Minister here suggests possible use of about $70,000,000 [Page 599] Rumanian gold now deposited Moscow. Without official authority he outlines following plan; namely, that preferably American representations should be made to Petrograd government that this gold be transferred to America for aid given to Rumania, shall then be physically taken to Kiev or Odessa depending on relative safety of deposit and that it may be then transferred to control of a new governmental bank associated with some new southern Russian government. As this gold is already pledged to secure Rumanian circulation Rumanian Government would part with it only on the supposition that its return after the war would be guaranteed [by] Allied Governments. If possible to accomplish, this bold plan would undoubtedly give best foundation for paper money issue in southern Russia. No immediate action can be taken, but I consider it wise to report as a possibility.

Rumanian Minister also shows telegram received yesterday from Jassy reporting that Maximalist agents attempted assassination of Shcherbachev commanding portion of Russian army on Rumanian flank. On appeal being made by Shcherbachev and four Allied diplomatic representatives to Rumanian Government it was agreed if necessary Rumanian troops would be used to resist effort of Maximalist troops to remove Shcherbachev who apparently still has some military following and who as an individual stands ready to continue resistance to Germany if he and Rumanians can be supported. Rumanian Government instructed Rumanian Minister here to notify French Government that in undertaking this resistance they were taking desperate chance and discharging perhaps the last obligation which they could discharge to their Allies and that they must be held as freed from all responsibility in ceasing military resistance if they found themselves between Russian army in rear and Austrian-German army in front. This situation makes clear that there is but little hope that Bessarabia can be counted upon as a safe place of retreat for Rumanian army since to receive that army would be to continue open defiance to Germany and to all Russian sentiment which is favorable to armistice followed by peace.

Without true military resistance to Austrian-German army it would be difficult to prevent southern Russian producers and merchants from selling to Austrian-German purchasers, but the British-French policy above referred to may considerably delay the actual establishment of any peace conditions which would open southern Russian resources to free commercial movement with Central Empires. Delay in enjoyment of these resources may also come from the mere existence of anarchy in southern Russia, which however would doubtless be followed by wore complete German control [Page 600] in the end and would likewise result in great suffering to innocent populations. Hence policy adopted of endeavoring to delay establishment of formal peace seems wisest from present indications. Further arguments in favor of leaving present direction in southern Russia, Rumania to British and French found in fact that they have many more representatives in all these regions than American Government and I am inclined to think they feel their special interests are so involved that they would prefer to use American direction only in case it should appear that they cannot accomplish objectives indicated above. Looking to the possibility of our future action, consider it to be desirable that American representatives should be chosen with respect to political and financial judgment and stationed at Jassy, Kiev, Odessa, and Tiflis, their official relation to be made known only after further developments but their original instructions being such that they could take official action instantly when so instructed from Washington. If our diplomatic and consular force at these places considered sufficiently strong now, this suggestion of no consequence.

Answering your 36.1 Method of handling Vopicka’s drafts suggested my 221 based solely on representations of Rumanian representatives that Kiev and Odessa banks who are really to make the immediate advances would be more readily induced to act if they could draw on their correspondents London and Paris rather than on New York where their relations are less intimate. Just received cable from Vopicka stating that my telegram concerning method of drawing reached him so poorly written that could not decipher. I expect to reach him now more accurately through Rumanian Minister here. Will advise him to make drafts upon the United States Treasury as proposed by you though it may create inconvenience above referred to. Hope to learn authoritatively through Rumanian Minister shortly whether Rumania has received 25,000,000 rubles from Russian Government.

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