861.00 Party, All Union Communist/219

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

No. 2213

Sir: With reference to my telegram no. 99, March 11, 4 p.m., and to despatch no. 2203, March 27, 1939,29 transmitting copies in English of the report delivered on March 10 by Stalin to the 18th Party Congress, I have the honor to discuss below certain aspects of that portion of Stalin’s speech which deals with the international situation and Soviet foreign relations.

In the introduction of that section of his speech Stalin commences with a comparison between the alleged crisis and disruption in both economic and political spheres in capitalist countries as contrasted with the progress achieved in the Soviet Union in every phase of national life during the five years which have elapsed since the holding of the previous Congress.30 His description of the situation in capitalist countries presents little of interest in that it consists largely of figures taken from foreign sources to support the accepted Bolshevik thesis that the capitalist system is in process of disintegration. That section of his report, however, dealing with the international political situation while following closely the views expressed by M. Litvinov, the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, in his speech last June (see despatch no. 1460, July 9, 193831) in regard to the progressive destruction of the post-war system and the opinions set forth in the new Party history with reference to the existence of the new imperialist [Page 748] war for a division of the world, nevertheless contains certain points of immediate interest. Stalin takes great pains to emphasize that the war which is being waged by the aggressor states, namely, Germany, Japan and Italy, is directed primarily against the interests of England, France and the United States, in the face of which the latter countries are making concession after concession to the aggressors. In explanation of the failure of the nonaggressive states to resist fascist aggression, Stalin places first of all the abandonment by those countries, particularly England and France, of a policy of collective resistance to aggression and their adoption of a policy of “nonintervention or neutrality”. In addition, however, Stalin attributes considerable weight in explanation of this policy to the fear on the part of bourgeois politicians that a world war might lead to the victory of the proletarian revolution. This policy of “nonintervention” is defined by Stalin as one of formally leaving each country to defend itself as best it can against aggression and of maintaining commercial relations with both the aggressors and their victims, but which in actual fact means a policy of conniving at aggression and encouraging the transformation of the existing war into one of world-wide proportions.

Using this definition in explanation of the policy of “nonaggressive countries”, Stalin then openly charges that these countries are endeavoring to turn the fascist aggression against the Soviet Union and in this connection accuses the British, French and American press of having given undue publicity to the alleged German threat to the Soviet Ukraine in order, in Stalin’s words, “to incense the Soviet Union against Germany, to poison the atmosphere and provoke a conflict with Germany without any visible grounds”. Continuing his remarks on the so-called Ukrainian question Stalin, while declaring that if “madmen” in Germany seriously entertain designs on the Soviet Ukraine then they may rest assured that the Soviet Union is in a position to defend herself, expresses the belief that “normal people” in Germany realize the absurdity of any attempt to annex the Soviet Ukraine to Ruthenia. He refers in this connection with open satisfaction to the “disappointment of certain European and American politicians and pressmen” who find their hopes of a German march on the Ukraine being transformed into a German demand for colonies in the west. The accusations contained in this portion of Stalin’s speech against the western democracries of Great Britain and France for attempting to embroil the Soviet Union with Germany when no reason exists for such a conflict have aroused particular interest in Moscow and taken in conjunction with his formulation of Soviet policy has given rise to the opinion that the Soviet Union, in the words of Stalin, has publicly announced that if Germany [Page 749] refrains from a direct threat to the Soviet frontiers that she may count on Soviet neutrality in the event of war against the western powers.

In the section devoted to the Soviet Union and its relations with the capitalist countries, Stalin, after referring to the armaments race in progress, which has obliged the Soviet Union to increase the preparedness of its armed forces, listing without comment as to their validity at the present time the steps which the Soviet Government has taken in the last five years, namely, the entry into the League of Nations, the conclusion of treaties of mutual assistance with France, Czechoslovakia, and the Mongolian People’s Republic, and the conclusion of the pact of nonaggression with the Chinese Republic, defined the foreign policy of the Soviet Union as follows:

  • “(1) We stand for peace and the strengthening of business relations with all countries. That is our position and we shall adhere to this position as long as these countries maintain like relations with the Soviet Union and as long as they make no attempt to trespass on the interests of our country;
  • (2) We stand for peaceful and friendly relations with all the neighboring countries which have common frontiers with the U. S. S. R. That is our position and we shall adhere to this position as long as these countries maintain like relations with the Soviet Union and as long as they make no attempt to trespass directly or indirectly on the integrity and inviolability of the frontiers of the Soviet state;
  • (3) We stand for the support of nations which are the victims of aggression and are fighting for the independence of their country;
  • (4) We are not afraid of the threats of aggressors and are ready to deal two blows for every blow dealt by the instigators of war who attempt to violate the Soviet borders.”

He then affirms that in the pursuit of the policy outlined above the Soviet Union relies upon its internal strength and the strength of its armed forces, its policy of peace, the moral support of the workers of all countries and a good sense of those countries which do not desire war. He concludes with the statement that the tasks of the Party in the sphere of foreign policy are:

  • “(1) To continue the policy of peace and of strengthening business relations with all countries;
  • (2) To be cautious and not allow our country to be drawn into conflict by war mongers who are accustomed to have others pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them;
  • (3) To strengthen the might of our Red Army and Red Navy to the utmost;
  • (4). To strengthen the international bonds of friendship with the working people of all countries, who are interested in peace and friendship among nations.”

In comparison with recent utterances in respect of Soviet foreign relations prior to the September crisis, it may be argued that Stalin’s [Page 750] speech comes close to expressing the real intentions of the Soviet Government in respect of foreign affairs in the light of the foreign situation which existed on the date of its delivery. He makes it clear that the Soviet Union will maintain normal and even friendly relations with any country without exception, provided that country does not directly threaten the interests of the Soviet Union, and it is perhaps significant that Stalin, by indirection it is true, associates these interests very closely with the frontiers of the Soviet Union. He likewise places high among the principal tasks in the sphere of foreign policy the necessity of exercising extreme caution to prevent the Soviet Union from being drawn into a conflict in which these interests are not directly affected. Taken in conjunction with his accusation of attempts on the part of other countries to poison relations between the Soviet Union and Germany this statement can be taken to mean that the Soviet Government has no intention of becoming involved in a war with Germany in defense of the interests of other countries. Indeed, Stalin’s outline of the principles and tasks of present Soviet foreign policy might well be described in the Words he himself uses to denounce the alleged policy of “nonintervention” and “neutrality” pursued by the western democracies.

In conclusion I might add that although Stalin’s speech was delivered before the recent German actions in central, southeastern and eastern Europe, which, perhaps, had they occurred prior to that date, would have necessitated certain minor modifications in his remarks, the manifestations of Soviet diplomacy in the face of these actions have in no way run counter to the general lines of present Soviet foreign policy as laid down by Stalin.

Respectfully yours,

A. Kirk
  1. Despatch not printed.
  2. The XVII Congress of the All Union Communist Party had been held in Moscow between January 26 and February 10, 1934.
  3. Ante, p. 587.