File No. 763.72119/2443
The Russian Ambassador ( Bakhmeteff ) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 1.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note of October 23, enclosing certain communications which have passed between the Government of the United States [Page 436] and the Government of Germany, relative to an armistice and the terms of a treaty of peace between the belligerents in the present war.
Following the instructions of the President, you make request that this correspondence be taken under careful consideration by the Government and that the Government’s views and conclusions be communicated to you; and this especially with regard to the possible terms of an armistice between the belligerents and the manner in which such terms might be determined.
Under conditions prevailing I am not in a position to refer your note for proper answer, as there is no Government of Russia recognized by the United States. On the other hand, the questions involved are of an importance so momentous and of a character so vital for the whole future of Russia, that I feel it would be detrimental to the interests of my country if they would remain unanswered and the aspirations and interests of the Russian Nation would not be expressed.
I am therefore led to believe, that I would not consummate my duty, as a representative of Russia, if I did not present certain suggestions in connection with the questions under consideration.
I am guided in such course by the open-hearted and humanitarian attitude which the Government of the United States has assumed toward Russia and which so fully and lucidly has been revealed in different announcements relative to the terms of peace.
The events in Russia, following the fall of the Provisional Government on November 7, 1917, with the disintegration of the army and the abolition of any articulate mechanism of orderly administration, have been used by Germany as an unlimited opportunity for effectuating its premeditated plans of domination of the East. These plans have found explicit expression in the treaty of Brest Litovsk and a number of subsequent arrangements. Besides, a deep practical hold of Russia’s political and economic life has been gained through a widespread network of ingenious agreements between German firms and Russian establishments. This systematic policy of peaceful penetration was eventually supplemented by direct seizure. The latest revelations have further exposed the internal relations between the German Government and the acting Russian authorities and have clearly shown by what process these authorities were entangled within the tenets of Germany’s intrigue so as to become ultimately mere instruments in the hands of the masters of Germany.
It is evident, that an eventual suspension of hostilities on the western front and a subsequent period of peace negotiations might give Germany the most promising opportunities to further consolidate [Page 437] her actual control of Russia and to perfect the instrumentality of her domination, if the very possibility of such activities were not thwarted by the very act of armistice, the conditions of which would put an end to the very prospects of German achievements in Russia.
An armistice, couched in terms which would cancel, once for all and antecedent to the final peace proceedings, the results which Germany obtained in the east since the fall of the Provisional Government put an end to organized military resistance, would not only do justice to the interests of the people of Russia, but would entirely correspond to the real spirit, in which the war aims of the United States have been conceived.
More so if, as the note of October 23 to the Chargé d’Affaires of Switzerland makes mention, the acceptance by Germany of the terms of the armistice will afford the best evidence of her unequivocal acceptance of the terms and principles of peace, there could be no better test of good faith on the part of Germany than a repudiation at the very outset of all achievements due to a policy in such flagrant contradiction to the precepts to which the German Government claims to have agreed.
With this in mind, I am enclosing a statement of eventual terms, which appear to respond to the above purpose. The general conception of these terms is to remove out of the very heart of Russian life the obnoxious influence of German activities, thus giving the people an opportunity for unrestrained and free determination of their own destinies.
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I avail myself [etc.]