800.51W89 U.S.S.R./184: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Wiley ) to the Secretary of State

61. Your 24, January 31, 6 p.m. Captain Nimmer was received by Voroshilov today. The following is a close paraphrase of a report of the interview prepared by Captain Nimmer:

Voroshilov was extremely friendly and detained me about 25 minutes listening to my remarks and making comments of his own. Conversation in substance was as follows: In his opening remarks he expressed regret at my leaving ‘just about the time we had begun to understand each other’. I thanked him and stated that I personally regretted strongly and was sorry that matters turned out as they did though it was no fault of ours! This evoked ‘How’s that and just what is all this that is going on, I am afraid I do not quite understand it all’. I replied that of course he realized that Ambassador Bullitt came here with the most open of minds, friendliest of feelings and most sincere desire to promote genuinely friendly American-Soviet relations [and] that the Ambassador personally selected a staff who entertained like sentiments. He then interrupted to say that he considered Mr. Bullitt one of his best friends but that the Ambassador had not quite played the game, for the recent break must have been provoked by the reports and telegrams he sent to his Government. He did not know of course what the reports were but the results indicated that their nature must have been most unsatisfactory. Mr. Bullitt should have presented the picture in respect of debts, Czarist, Kerensky, et cetera, from an angle which by no stretch of the imagination [Page 183] could have led anyone to expect the Soviet Union to acknowledge such debts. The Soviet Union had no objection whatsoever to paying extra interest on loans but if it were placed in a direct position of acknowledging indebtedness then everybody would have to be paid. This they could not possibly do. The only solution in such a case would be to sell the whole of the Soviet Union or parcel it out in settlement. I remarked that I knew that the American Government was disturbed in respect of debt negotiations. It had made a liberal offer. After 4 months it had received a negative reply with no counterproposal. This could be likened somewhat to criticisms in military circles where an officer after criticising a plan or an order not only offers no better solution but no solution at all. He seemed to appreciate this analogy and asked pointblank just what was the difficulty or difficulties. I told him that from my point of view our difficulties dated back from almost the moment of our arrival. He said ‘All of you seemed to be so sincerely friendly and we reciprocated this friendliness and then suddenly out of a clear sky you slap us in the face. What did you mean by your reference to difficulties arising almost immediately after your arrival here.’ I replied that his spirit of friendliness was unfortunately not reflected by organs of the civil branches of the Government. He asked specifically which branches. I told him that the Commissariats for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade seemed to be leagued to obstruct us. ‘Well in what respect?’ I replied ‘To begin with your Mr. Rosengoltz from the very beginning was quite definitely indifferent to Soviet-American relations and the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs has shown little disposition to develop solid relations between us or be cooperative’. Voroshilov was very much interested and made a point throughout our conversation of stressing the fact that lack of cooperation on the part of Rosengoltz or any person in the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs was absolutely inexcusable and that he was sorry for any lack of courtesy which the Embassy had experienced.

Voroshilov in conversation seemed sincerely hurt at the turn of affairs between America and the Soviet Union and at various times dwelt on the possibility of their not understanding us and our not understanding them; that we should both make efforts to remedy this defect.

He said the action of my Government in withdrawing me would make it most embarrassing for them to leave Oras and his assistant12 in Washington. The only thing they could honorably do in this or other moves of this kind that we might make would be politely to make corresponding moves. He added that he was saying this in all friendliness.

Voroshilov then talked briefly about their navy plans. He said that work was progressing—slowly but progressing nevertheless—on what he termed four fleets. Black Sea, Baltic, Northern and Far Eastern and that they had a few ships in the Caspian Sea and Amur River.

My impressions were that: (1) Voroshilov was honestly seeking further light on the events leading up to the recent actions of the American Government; (2) he sincerely hopes that we can really reach an understanding—he is our outstanding friend; (3) he seemed [Page 184] much interested in the fact that we felt that most of our difficulties were to be attributed to perturbations by the Commissariats for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.”

It is expected that Voroshilov will receive Lieutenant White before the latter’s departure.

  1. Alexander Mikhailovich Yakimichev.