File No. 861.00/1775
The Consul at Moscow (Poole) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 12, 5.50 a.m.]
500. Official Soviet gazette for May 9 publishes text of German reply to Soviet radiogram of April 21 respecting German intentions in the Crimea.1 Essential portions of note are as follows: [Page 685]
I have been commissioned to answer the Russian Government to the effect that the German Government has no intention of forcing any particular form of government on the Crimea. In any case the Imperial Government considers itself forced in view of the attacks made by the fleet from Sevastopol on Kherson and Nikolaev to send its troops there and to occupy Sevastopol.
This action has a purely military significance. With regard to political and state organization, the Imperial Government will allow the right of self-determination proclaimed by the Russian Government and proposes that the question regarding the Crimea, which until now belonged to the Taurida government, should be the subject of the Russian-Ukrainian treaty.
The question regarding the Crimean Fleet was only raised owing to naval and technical considerations and in no way prejudices the future state of the province. Count Mirbach.
Essential portions of Russian reply, published in same paper, are as follows:
The National Commissariat for Foreign Affairs considers it its duty to point out that until the present time the German Government had made no statement regarding hostile actions on the part of our Black Sea Fleet. In a radiogram of April 15 the German Government merely notified hostile actions on the part of some vessels which had separated themselves from our Black Sea Fleet, and for which the fleet could not be held responsible.
The seizure of the Black Sea Fleet by German military forces, through a military advance on Sevastopol through the Crimea, is absolutely contrary to the Brest Litovsk treaty. This provides for the presence of military vessels in Russian harbors or their disarmament, but not for their seizure by German military forces, and the national Commissariat sees itself forced to make a decided protest against this seizure which is contrary to the treaty. The occupation of the Crimea is contradictory to the statement made by the German Government itself in a radiogram of March 26 to the effect that the Taurida government should constitute part of the Ukraine, but without the Crimea.
The Taurida government would have been guaranteed self-determination through its belonging to the Russian Federal Soviet Republic, and the national Commissariat does not see how the application of the right of self [-determination is guaranteed?] by German-Ukrainian troops, whose presence could only make this right illusory.
The national Commissariat considers that in the note of the German diplomatic representative the German Government, which several times reminded the Russian Soviet government of its obligation to conclude a peace treaty with the Ukraine, still considers such a treaty immediately imminent. The Russian Soviet government, whose delegation at the invitation of the Ukrainian government is awaiting the arrival of the Ukrainian delegates at Kursk, shares this point of view and would thank the German Government to inform it whether the invitation to carry on negotiations at Kursk, which was expressed in a note to the central Rada dated April 14 [Page 686] and supplanted [supported?] by the German Government, still remains in force.