File No. 861.00/2198

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


643. The new U. N., [Ukrainian] government lacks general support. Large estate owners and upper bourgeois are friendly for the most part, the middle citizens are at best indifferent, and the peasants and workingmen openly hostile, though not emboldened to speak out or act concertedly. The left parties of the German Reichstag are said to disapprove of the new government as proffered and it is displeasing to Austria because its members are pan-Russian in their views (see my No. 525, May 16, 8 p.m.1) and therefore opposed to a separatist policy such as Austria would favor. For the same reason there is disagreement between the Austrians and the German military party which has created the new government. The German military occupation is a source of great bitterness to the people. Although the accounts in the Russian press of widespread turmoil are exaggerated, observers sent into the Ukraine by the Consulate General report frequent individual acts of violence and sporadic local outbreaks. Unquestionably the general development of the situation is causing the Germans uneasiness and has necessitated considerable increase in the army of occupation. The people have been bitterly disappointed because the expected flood of manufactured goods from Germany has not materialized. The Germans have delivered in Kiev, with great acclaim, 50 carloads of agricultural implements and practically nothing else. In the meantime the country is being systematically and ruthlessly stripped of textiles and other manufactured goods as well as foodstuffs.

Reports that lack of railway rolling stock hampers somewhat the shipment of this loot to Germany are confirmed by the daily insistence of the delegates at the Kiev peace conference on the immediate return of the cars and engines which were taken out of the Ukraine during the Bolshevik retreat. Under German influence the Ukraine is also endeavoring to hasten the conclusion of a commercial agreement with Russia even before the conclusion of a treaty of peace, in order to open the Russian frontier for the movement of goods into the Ukraine and by this of course into Germany. The Soviet government, Chicherin tells me, is promised grain and coal and lends a willing ear as the German occupation of the south and the Siberian counter-revolution have quite deprived central Russia of these two commodities.

[Page 695]

Respecting general conditions in the Ukraine the observers agree in reporting that the people do not regard the German occupation as permanent. They speak of it as though unfortunate passing phase saying that they [Bolsheviks?] have taken Russia and the Germans the Ukraine. When the Bolsheviks are gone the Ukraine will somehow, they expect, become once more a part of Russia.

The land bank is endeavoring to facilitate the repurchase by peasants of the land which they have had to return to the former owners, but the scheme is not proving popular. Disputes between landlords and peasants have led to ploughing under of growing crops and serious losses of stock. It is estimated that the acreage sown to grain is about 90 per cent of normal, but much uneasiness is felt about sugar beets which were the product of the big estates, and require especially careful cultivation. The general weather conditions were bad during the first half of May, but recent rains have improved the outlook of the crops.

Reports from industrial centers show unemployment, wages reduced, and many factories idle, though recently some are being restarted under German direction.

  1. Ante, p. 687.