861.00/6797: Telegram

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

300. Following from Admiral McCully [,Theodosia].

“42. April 20, 5 p.m. The Atamans of Don, Kuban and Terek have forwarded separately to me a communication addressed to Great Britain, France, Italy, United States, and Japan in which they request those countries to act as intermediaries with the Soviets in negotiations for ending the fighting in Russia. These proposals recite the history of Cossack nations whose ideal has always been liberty and who preserved it even under Imperial regime and also the suffering and distress which their people now undergo. They ask ‘in the name of humanity, in the name of salvation of their existence, in the name of self-interests of the great powers themselves, that a stop be made to the fighting.’ Each communication [Page 593] is in same form, head, conclusions in exactly the same words and lays down as conditions for beginning negotiations:

  • ‘1. Abstention by Soviet powers from any interference in internal affairs of Don, Kuban and Terek.
  • 2. Withdrawal of Soviet forces from territory of Don, Kuban and Terek.
  • 3. Future relations of these Cossack territories with Russia to be determined by special agreement.
  • 4. International guarantees for fulfillment of conditions agreed upon by both sides.’

Although Astrakhan and Ural Cossacks are not represented, Don Ataman requests that any agreement reached be considered also with them alike.

Don and Terek have sent Mr. Melnikov former President of Council under Denikine to represent them before Supreme Council in Paris while Kuban has sent Mr. Bukovtzets there for same purpose. By previous agreement reached between (armies?) of Don, Kuban and Terek on April 16 General Wrangel is recognized by them as commander in chief of their [apparent omission] forces and directing their movements. In civil administration and internal affairs Cossack territories enjoy full autonomy independently of commander in chief, who however, is intermediary through which relations with foreign powers shall be conducted. Bequest of Ataman for intermediation of British forces is made with knowledge and consent of General Wrangel who in an interview Lawder today states his willingness to enter into negotiations for armistice preparatory to peace since without support of Allied Powers it would not be possible to maintain the war indefinitely. In view of the fact that Allied Powers could not promise to evacuate his forces to some other place and of impossibility to submit unconditionally at this time to the Soviet while the blood of both sides is hot and on account of the cruelties which would inevitably follow, the conditions upon which he would [apparent omission] would be that his forces should remain undiminished in the Crimea which would serve as a refuge for them and for other Russians who have been forced to leave their country. In the meantime and until a (plan?) should be arrived at he would institute in the Crimea a government of most liberal character, establish peace and order and occupy himself (in?) developing resources of Crimea.

On April 14th General Wrangel organized council consisting of one of [his?] own naval officers and three civil members, one of civil members being Peter Struve, Social Revolutionary, publicist, professor and noted for clear views and liberal and progressive ideals. Another civil member is soon to be replaced by Krivoshein, [Page 594] formerly Minister of Agriculture under the Imperial regime, broad minded, honest, capable, and enjoys general confidence throughout Russia. Selection of council met most favorably by all classes and Russian Christians [sic] strongly supports Wrangel. General Wrangel has heretofore been strenuously endeavoring to charter [omission] and bring soldiers to [omission] and prevent fighting at the front with his men. In his decrees as head of the government he has shown himself so extraordinarily liberal as to astonish every one, remark being ‘who could have expected such things from a Baltic baron and [omission.]’ His reforms are opposed only by irredeemable officials of old regime who unable to accomplish anything themselves are still strong enough to hamper [omissions]. Immediately on organizing government Wrangel went to front and organized smart offensive immediately without accomplishing any important military results yet he did much to establish morale. Russian naval vessels are in good shape and exhibit fine spirit, the crews taking part as [omission] in recent offensive.

Agreement has been reached with Ukrainian delegation here for cooperation between Petliura forces and those of Wrangel. Military position seems for the time secure and there is little probability of internal disorder in Crimea. British have strong military mission in Sevastopol of 175 officers and 400 men and two British merchant vessels have discharged a number of field guns and considerable amount of ammunition in the last few days. General Keyes head of Special British Mission leaves for England to-day and then goes to Moscow to assist with negotiations with Soviet. French have also large mission but deprecate any military success by Wrangel. French gunboat Lascarpe visited Odessa April 8th and is now at Mkolaief in negotiations concerning matters of trade with Soviet Commissary Davidovitch. There are also Japanese, Czecho-Slovak, Belgian and Polish but no Italian or Roumanian. Sevastopol with [normal?] population of 80,000 has now over 200,000 with much hardship and suffering, particularly amongst children. Order is maintained with ruthless hand during past week by sentence of court-martial, two officers being shot and three others publicly hanged for common robberies. Similar conditions exist in other towns. Crimea can under ordinary circumstances be held yet for several months but consequent suffering of innocent population would be dreadful. From personal knowledge of Wrangel I consider him entitled to confidence and that his purpose is sincere, high-minded and patriotic. McCully.”

  1. Telegram in four sections.