811.24/512: Telegram

The Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Secretary of State

5558. Department’s 3512, October 21, 3 p.m., 3595 October 29, 4 p.m., and 3749 November 13, 2 p.m.35 Commission’s mail despatch November 17 and previous correspondence. I have caused careful investigation of the circumstances and present situation as regards the sale by the Liquidation Board of supplies to a Ukrainian Cooperative Society representing the Petliura government. The Commission’s despatch of November 17 gives Judge Parker’s statement regarding this sale. At the present time the bulk of the material, comprising [six] and one half million dollars worth of articles of clothing, blankets, etc., $1,000,000 worth of medical supplies and $300,000 worth of motor material including 75 Cadillac automobiles, is understood to be still stored in warehouses in France near Bordeaux and Marseilles.

According to a statement of the Ukrainian representatives, 600,000 francs worth have been sold to persons and corporations in France in order to obtain funds to defray the expenses of transportation, storage and handling of the supplies. I understand further at the present time there is in Marseilles a ship chartered to take a cargo of these supplies to Galatz.

From conference with the Liquidation Board I gather that the sale was originally made some months ago at a time when the [Page 788] forces of Petliura were cooperating against the Bolshevik and when the Board considered the Ukraine [to be in a position] similar to that of the Baltic states [to which] sales were [also] made. I may add confidentially that Judge Parker is frank to admit that in view of events subsequent to the sale, the apparent collapse of the Petliura movement and the anti-Polish and anti-Denikin trend it has taken, it is unfortunate that the sale was ever made but that now it is too late for the Liquidation Board to retract and their chief concern is, if possible, to cover themselves financially unless political considerations should influence the Department of State to take up the matter.

The Liquidation Commission is now considering whether to accept [at this time] further signatures on the Ukrainian [notes] by officers of a cooperative society which purports to have purchased the goods from the Ukrainian Government for sale and distribution to civilian populations.

I may have [see] a number of embarrassing possibilities in the present situation. Notwithstanding French regulations to the contrary, it is very probable that the Ukrainians can succeed in liquidating the marketable supplies in France and realize sums to be used to further their propaganda or to ship other supplies to [forces in] south Russia which we might not particularly desire to assist at the present time especially as we have done so little to assist Denikin. In this connection Kramář, former Czech Premier, who has just returned from Denikin’s headquarters, expressed the greatest surprise and astonishment at this reference [sale] to the Ukrainian forces and spoke of the discouraging effect it would have upon Denikin if he knew of it.

The matter is of the most extreme urgency and yet so delicate that I did not feel that I could intervene decisively without instructions. In view of the fact, however, that I learned that a shipload of these supplies was about to be sent from Marseilles to Galatz, I have addressed a confidential note to Clemenceau outlining the situation in case the French authorities might desire to take precautions against the dissipation of the stocks in France or their possible shipment to Ukrainian forces.

A [number] of possibilities present themselves: (1) that no political action should be taken, but the matter left to the Liquidation Board, which should be left free to take such precautions as might be possible to protect itself against financial loss; (2) that the State Department should intervene and request or cooperate with the French authorities in sequestering these supplies; (3) that efforts should be made to arrange for the possible supervision of the distribution of these supplies in Russia by American Red Cross officials.

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I have shown this telegram to Judge Parker who leaves Paris today.

In view of early departure of the Commission, I suggest that reply be made to the Embassy which has retained all the necessary papers in the case.

American Mission
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