The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Bullitt ) to the Secretary of State

No. 683

Sir: I have the honor to report that the Soviet Government continues to be intensely disturbed by the Anglo-German naval treaty. Litvinov has expressed himself to me three times on this subject in language more violent than any he has used with regard to any event since I have been here. He now refers to the British as “the blacklegs” and fears that the effect of the Anglo-German naval agreement will be disastrous not only in Europe but also in the Far East.

It is, as the Department knows, the theory of Litvinov and the French that Hitler may be restrained only by a “chain” of states armed to oppose Germany. Litvinov is convinced that England has now broken this “chain” and that the defection of Italy and other states is likely to follow.

The most serious concern of the Soviet Government, however, is with regard to the effect on Japan of the Anglo-German naval agreement. The Russians point out that the construction of the new German fleet will make it necessary for England to retain the greater part of her naval forces in the North Sea, that she will have to diminish her forces in the Mediterranean, and that it will be absolutely impossible for her to send a fleet to Singapore.

From this they draw three conclusions: (1) That the Japanese henceforth will have a completely free hand in the Far East as the United States will not oppose Japanese advance either in China or against the Soviet Union unless assured of British support; (2) That the Anglo-German agreement is definitely against the interests of [Page 169] England unless the British Cabinet proposes to cultivate much closer and friendlier relations with Hitler’s Government than have hitherto existed, that therefore a strengthening of the ties between London and Berlin and a weakening of the ties between London and Paris is to be expected; (3) That Great Britain could not have tied her hands so completely in the Far East unless she had arrived at a private and secret agreement with Japan. It is, therefore, believed that the British have made a secret agreement with the Japanese with regard to the limits of the Japanese aggression in China and the protection of British interests in the Far East: In other words, a revival, in the form of a secret understanding, of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

In this connection, Mr. Wheeler-Bennett, who for many years has been connected with the British Secret Service and has just visited several European capitals, said to me recently that he and all the British diplomatists he has seen since the conclusion of the Anglo-German agreement, believe that henceforth Singapore will be totally useless.

For my own information I should be glad to have any comment that the Department may care to make on the speculations recorded above.

Respectfully yours,

William C. Bullitt