861.00/6350½: Telegram

The High Commissioner at Constantinople ( Bristol ) to the Secretary of State

117. It is increasingly apparent that recognition of three Trans-Caucasus republics may be as serious an error in combating Reds as announcement of blockade against Soviets lifted appears to be. It is my opinion, backed by much evidence, that both measures were taken without understanding the mentality of all peoples concerned and it was at the worst possible moment in struggle against Reds. The recognition of Georgia and Azerbaidjan has been interpreted by those countries as forced on the Peace Conference and the British [Page 582] by a desperate military and political situation and not as a means to stiffen and assist these small countries against a Red invasion. These countries see in this recognition a proof of Red victory and power. For it they thank the Bolsheviks, with whom they have always had much sympathy, and to whom their selfish political ambitions will now turn more and more. The Bolshevists are proclaiming the Allied proposal to open up trade with the cooperatives as a great victory that they have won against the Entente.

It is already reported that Tchitcherin has invited Georgia and Azerbaidjan to attend a peace meeting at Rostov, with the threat that military measures will be taken against them if they refuse. Their answer is said to have been in the negative, but this could at any time be reversed, and would likely be if a Red campaign reached south.

Regarding any plan to feed South Russian peoples through trade with Soviets, no grain stocks are needed there. The population want plows, clothing, household utensils to stiffen them against Red movement. Need of the foregoing was strongly urged last spring, and present moment [apparent omission] enveloping.

The British are reported concentrating great numbers tanks in Mesopotamia and on Afghan border. It is contended and seems wisest from military standpoint that a stand against any serious Red drive in spring towards the southeast should be opposed outside Russian territory, on a long prepared and strong offensive [defensive?] line where the Red[s] have lengthened their communication to the utmost, rather than by isolated aid to already disturbed and disaffected new small countries where troubles would inevitably follow mingling of western troops with natives. Repeated to Paris for Grew.

Bristol