861.00/6535a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to Colonel E. M. House

115. Situation in Russia

Archangel: Conditions unchanged. Morale of American and French troops not good and further weakened by considerable friction with British in spite of ability and spirit of cooperation shown by new British Commander General Ironside.

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Conditions at Petrograd and Moscow very little changed except that food situation at Petrograd daily approaching conditions of real famine. Policy of terror against bourgeoisie continued by the Bolsheviki.

Regarding Ukraine. Conflicting reports received. One that General Denikin with Russian Army has taken Kiev, second that the Hetman of the Ukraine has issued a proclamation to the Allies expressing his intention to organize the Ukraine as part of a federated Russia.

Siberia: Situation on the Volga Front rather better. Russian troops relieving Czechs effectively and allowing them to take a much needed rest. Government set up by Kolchak2 apparently growing firmer. The post of Minister of Foreign Affairs in Kolchak Government is being held open for Sassonoff, former Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Czar. Kolchak also hopes to establish cooperation with General Denikin’s Army on the Lower Volga.

Kolchak and his advisers appear determined to ignore, for the present, political groups east of Irkutsk and to concentrate their efforts on Siberia west of Lake Baikal and endeavor to establish contact with European Russia through Perm, Samara and Rostov. They appear to believe it best to cut loose entirely from Eastern Siberia as far as possible and deal with the whole Far Eastern situation at some later date after the more important questions involving European Russia have been definitely solved. This attitude is no doubt prompted by the accumulation of evidence that the Japanese are deliberately supporting Semenoff and undermining strength of the Siberian Government at Omsk by supporting or encouraging Semenoff and others in Eastern Siberia.

Siberian Railways: The Japanese now admit that they have 70,000 troops of all arms in North Manchuria and Eastern Siberia. Reliable reports indicate that the real number is probably well over 100,000. John F. Stevens3 reports that they have put the final seal upon their determination to monopolise North Manchuria by formal demand of the Chinese President of the Chinese Eastern Railway that he turn over the railway to the Japanese. The Japanese Government has been wholly uninfluenced by this Government’s expressions of protest and amazement that a mutual agreement to send small forces to Siberia should have developed the presence of over 100,000 troops and a policy of monopoly which is utterly at variance with the publicly expressed purpose of Japan.

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This Government is concerned in the Siberian situation primarily because reports show that the paralysis of railway traffic created by the Japanese control of the Chinese Eastern and absorption of the railway for military purposes, renders it impossible to furnish to the Russian population of Siberia the economic assistance which is vital to enable them to pass the winter without great misery and hardship. Furthermore the whole question of shipping supplies to the Russian and Czech forces in Siberia is imperilled.

  1. Admiral Alexander V. Kolchak, proclaimed Supreme Governor of Russia at Omsk, Nov. 18, 1918.
  2. President of the technical board for the operation of the Chinese Eastern and Siberian Railways.