The Secretary of State to the United States Shipping Board
Gentlemen: The Department begs to refer to a communication from the United States Shipping Board, dated March 30, 1921,83 inquiring whether, from the point of view of this Department, it would be advisable for a Shipping Board vessel to lift a cargo of flax at Petrograd, and what complications might arise by so doing. Major Ruch, of the Shipping Board, has also inquired by telephone of the Russian Division of this Department as to the advisability of Shipping Board vessels carrying cargoes to Petrograd, Odessa and Novorossiisk.
In reply to these inquiries, you are informed that the State Department feels that it cannot under existing circumstances advise the Shipping Board to allow Shipping Board vessels to enter Soviet ports. Inasmuch as the Department has informed American business interests that, although there are no restrictions on trade with Russia, such trade will be entered into at their own risk and without the possibility of the Government affording them customary protection, it is obvious that agencies or departments of the Government engaging in such trade would also incur similar risks,—namely, in the case [Page 776] of individuals, detention and possibly imprisonment, and in the case of vessels, seizure,—and would involve a departure from the present policy.
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I am [etc.]
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