711.61/594: Telegram

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

49. On my return to Moscow yesterday, Litvinov,36 Marshal Budenny, and an unusually large number of Soviet officers and officials came to my house and showed every evidence of having been directed to cultivate more friendly personal relations with this mission. A member of the Soviet hierarchy, close to the Kremlin, informed me later that Litvinov had made every effort to have Troyanovsky37 removed from Washington, but that Troyanovsky in the course of three conversations with Stalin had persuaded the dictator that it was Litvinov and not himself (Troyanovsky) who had wrecked Soviet relations with the United States. He asserted that Litvinov had received instructions to adopt a more reasonable attitude toward the United States.

In the course of a conversation Litvinov made the following statements to me:

1. He asserted that he was convinced that there was no possibility whatsoever of an early Japanese attack on the Soviet Union.

He said, “The Japanese know that if they attack us and Germany does not attack us the war may be long but in the end they will be defeated utterly.”

2. He said that he was equally convinced that there was no possibility of an early German attack on Czechoslovakia or any part of Central Europe or the Soviet Union.

3. He said he believed the French Chamber of Deputies certainly would vote for the Franco-Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance but was much less certain with regard to the French Senate.

4. He asserted that he had positive information that a council of the superior officers of the German Reichswehr recently had recommended to Hitler that even in case of ratification of the Franco-Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance the German Government should not immediately begin to fortify the Rhineland. He added that technical considerations had played a large part in this decision, that German industry was so fully occupied by war preparations of other sorts that it would be impossible at the moment to begin serious military constructions in the Rhineland.

5. He stated that the German Government had offered again to extend credits of one billion marks to the Soviet Government for purchases [Page 201] in Germany. He added that the Soviet Government had replied that the maximum it would consider utilizing was five hundred million marks.

6. He stated that while his visit to London had improved greatly relations between Great Britain and the Soviet Union he had obtained no definite promises of support. He said that he had proposed an Anglo-Soviet pact of mutual assistance similar to the Franco-Soviet pact but that he had really no hope that this proposal would be accepted. He said that Eden personally might be favorable but that the weight of British tradition would be too much for him to overcome. Litvinov added “I believe the British will adhere to the policy they pursued before 1914. They may even make fewer commitments than they then made to the French. But at the last minute faced by the fact of German aggression they will make war”.

7. In connection with the question of German aggression against the Soviet Union, Litvinov reiterated the opinions which the Soviet Ambassador to Poland had expressed to me at great length during the trip from Warsaw to Moscow. Litvinov said that the Soviet Government was certain now that Germany could not attack the Soviet Union except by way of Poland. He asserted that the way to the north by way of Lithuania and Latvia offered insufficient area for the maneuvering of great forces and had been completely closed by Soviet preparations. He asserted that the way to the south via Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania could not be opened except by a German attack on Czechoslovakia and Rumania and even if opened would give a line of communications so long and inadequate that the Russian armies on the Rumanian border would be able to defeat the German armies. He then asserted that he still believed Poland might cooperate with Germany in an attack on the Soviet Union.

(I had a rather intimate conversation with Beck, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, on my way through Warsaw which reenforced my opinion that there is no possibility whatever of Poland participating with Germany in such an attack on the Soviet Union. Among other strong statements on this subject Beck remarked “our basic policy is never to allow a German or a Bolshevik soldier to set foot on Polish soil. In case of war anywhere in Europe, we shall remain neutral so long as possible.”).

The informant, close to the Kremlin, quoted above, also stated to me that outward appearances to the contrary, notwithstanding, Litvinov’s conversation with Flandin had been thoroughly unsatisfactory from the point of view of the Soviet Government and that the Kremlin believed the Franco-Soviet pact would not be ratified by the French Senate.

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With regard to relations between the Soviet Government and the People’s Republic of Mongolia, the same informant asserted positively that while the Soviet Government had made no written promises to Gendun, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Mongolia, during his recent visit to Moscow, verbal promises had been given that the Soviet Government would accord military assistance appropriate to any situation which might arise,38 “ending with one hundred per cent military assistance in case the Japanese should approach Urga.[”]

  1. Maxim Maximovich Litvinov, Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Alexander Antonovich Troyanovsky, Soviet Ambassador in the United States.
  3. For report of military assistance agreement, signed March 13, 1936, see telegram No. 95, April 1, 2 p.m., from the Ambassador In the Soviet Union, vol. iv, p. 94.