The Acting Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: Mr. Lansing told me last Fall he had a conversation with you August 30, 1918 on the subject of Siberia [Page 261] and you then said you would provide funds for the maintenance of the Russian Railway Service Corps when the Russian funds set aside for that purpose were exhausted.

The Russian funds in question are now altogether expended and the need for additional funds presses. I have an urgent telegram from Mr. Stevens 69 asking for $75,000 for the maintenance and upkeep of the Corps in Siberia and am also informed by the Russian Embassy that the salary payroll due March 1st and monthly thereafter—on the existing basis of organization—will amount to $42,000.

I shall be glad to know what measures you wish to be taken in order to make the above funds immediately available to the Russian Chargé d’Affaires so that he can provide for the payment of salaries due March 1st and also forward at once to Mr. Stevens the $75,000 necessary to meet expenses in Siberia.

Until other arrangements may be made by the inter-Allied Committee, which will supervise the Siberian Railways, I shall also be grateful to know how you would like further calls for funds for this purpose to be met.

The actual expenses of the Russian Railway Service Corps during the seventeen months of its existence have averaged about $80,000 a month, about equally divided between monthly salaries and occasional allocations of $75,000 every few months for maintenance and upkeep in Siberia.

You will recall that when we asked the Secretary to confer with you in Paris as to the necessity of securing an emergency fund for Mr. Stevens to start operations under the plan to supervise the Siberian Railways, it was pointed out that the two purposes for which such a fund would be imperatively needed were, first, to pay Russian railway employees arrears of wages now long over due and to provide for payment of wages and salaries in the immediate future; and second, to purchase needed equipment. You then authorized Mr. McCormick to have the War Trade Board, Russian Bureau, Incorporated, advance for that purpose a sum up to $1,000,000 to Mr. Stevens, provided Japan did not object;70 but this authorization would not cover the maintenance of the Russian Railway Service Corps. Advances for the Corps from the current National Security and Defense Fund will be available only up to to July 1, 1919.

Faithfully yours,

Frank L. Polk
  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram from the Commission to Negotiate Peace, no. 376, Jan. 21, 6 p.m., p. 243.