File No. 867.22/22

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


3706. Your 3675, April 20, noon. Department has received telegrams from Tiflis via Teheran dated 10th, 11th and 12th of March,1 representing the situation in Caucasus as most critical, Turks advancing, Armenians in real danger of extermination, stating that if properly led and financed latter possess great potential military [Page 888]force, and that British mission must use more adequate efforts if situation is to be saved.

Tiflis consul states German plan of utilizing native Moslem population being accomplished. Tartars and Turkish troops disguised as natives, pro-Turk Moslem leaders supplied with abundant cash, feverishly active in creating disturbances. Fighting between Moslem tribes and Terek Cossacks. Armenian villages and detachments constantly attacked by armed Moslems, although latter usually repulsed. Situation aggravated by inactivity of Allies. Turkish demand of part of Caucasus brought Georgians’ desire to join hands with Armenians. Defense of front depends entirely on latter whose present forces are 15,000 Ottoman subjects and 25,000 Russian subjects. With proper assistance probably force of 30,000 Georgians can be raised. Prime Minister requests help and states Armeno-Georgians will resist Turkish advance, but without instant financial aid and hope of future British military assistance, Turks may occupy as much Caucasian territory as they please. Without most urgent measures such occupation and massacre of Armenians within two months practically certain.

Prime Minister stated Black Sea Russian fleet offering to sell his Government cruisers, torpedo boats, transports and supplies, and that these would be sold to Turkish Government unless purchased by Allies.

Consul suggests placing in London to the credit of head of British mission at Tiflis, 2,000,000 roubles to be used at his discretion for military purposes and possible purchase of Black Sea and Caspian fleets. Dunsterville, Tapping, or other tactful person could be charged with negotiations. Also credit of 2,000,000 roubles should be placed in London at disposal of Tiflis American consul, to be used at his discretion to provide for safety of Armenian people and prevent total extermination. The plan suggested is to provision and supply the three mountain fastnesses in Russian Armenia, where, in case of disasters, troops at front may fall back and hold out probably for six months. If above is done Prime Minister promises hold Baku to keep open communications with British and north Caucasians.

The Washington special envoy of the Armenian Catholicos has suggested that if American consul at Tiflis be authorized to guarantee a loan it would probably be possible to raise it from local Armenian financial and commercial firms which would probably seize the opportunity to place their cash beyond the reach of extreme Socialists as well as of Turco-Germans.

Please inform Allied War Council of the above, drawing attention to the stated number of Armenian volunteers. It is reported [Page 889]here that since above dates number of Armenian soldiers has increased. If they have really recaptured Van and successfully fought against Tartars at Baku the reports may be true.

  1. Not printed.