File No. 861.00/1915

The Consul at Moscow (Poole) to the Secretary of State


541. Moscow newspaper reports speech before Cadet Party, Kiev, last week of N. P. Vasilenko, Ukrainian Minister Foreign Affairs and Education. Résumé as follows:

Some people will talk of a united, indivisible Russia but this is a matter of the future. Perhaps such a Russia will exist, perhaps it will not. The fact remains that Russia at present does not exist. There is not even the kernel of a healthy conception of a state in Russia. In the Ukraine we see a healthy national feeling and the strength of the Ukraine is in this. We know that the entire Slavonic revival was built upon the national principle.

[Page 690]

I was asked how one could at present work with the government when foreign support must be leaned upon. But, for example, leaning upon the support of Russian bayonets, Bulgaria established her state and for some time has been playing a considerable part in European history. Should you not wish to employ this aid, let this authority go, let the Bolsheviks come again and repeat all their experiments and you will continue to follow the path of destruction. Our authority may be severe, perhaps the conditions are hard, the commercial treaties may be disadvantageous. I will not touch on any of these questions. But what has one to do but make use of this authority until those forces are collected in the Ukraine which will take part in the healthy organic life and governing of the country? The moment is sure to come when it will be possible for the Ukraine to exist independently and when she will have to work at the establishment of a Ukrainian national state.

A question which to many presents serious difficulties is the question of our attitude towards the Central powers. I have long since been convinced that historical conditions are such that our economic and commercial interests are united to the Central powers, chiefly to Germany. Some may reply that we have obligations to the Allies. It is true that we gave the Allies our word, but we have not kept it. That was difficult psychological moment but we have lived through it all and are faced with bare reality. Before the war we were in close relations with Germany; our science and commerce drew strength from there. Think of the number of Russians who yearly visited Germany and you will see what a tie existed between ourselves and Germany. A country always must stand on the basis of state interests and the attitude of a country is susceptible to change. History has shown us that our oriental interests and Germany always were closer than our interests with England. Our political interests often coincided with Germany’s but you can not conceal the fact our political interests and England’s often differed. For instance, it is an historical fact that our chief loss at the Berlin Congress was due England. Owing to English diplomacy we then lost the Dardanelles and Constantinople. We and Germany are geographical neighbors and as neighbors we should be in contact and our interests should intertwine. So it was before the war, so it is now, and so I think it will be after the war. It is necessary to stand on a basis of effective relations with the Central powers and lead them of course in the interests of the establishment of a free Ukraine.

The facts upon which I base my stand: for the good of the Ukraine, the establishment of its strength and power, the development of its capacity for defense in the future, for these I intend giving all my strength.

In the debate which followed Vasilenko’s address, no speaker is reported vigorously to have objected to this close contact between the Ukraine and Germany. Two speakers are quoted as having been of the opinion that the minister is mistaken in relying entirely upon Germany, that Germany does not think of establishing an independent state in the Ukraine.

[Page 691]

Vasilenko’s speech has attracted lively editorial comment in Moscow press. Journal Noshe Slovo, conservative, formerly Russkoe Slovo, cites present measures employed by Germany to bleed Ukraine with query:

Perhaps these are the famous economic interests of the Ukraine and Germany. The Ukrainian minister is dreaming of everlasting German aid, friendship. However, responsible German political workers unanimously declare that in establishing relations with the newly appointed hetman they are not concerned with the distant future but wish only to draw from everything possible. Perhaps these are the Ukrainian-German common political interests.

To-day’s Lokal, official Bolshevik organ, under caption, “Treachery of the Cadets,” comments editorially in much same vein.