793.94 Conference/47: Telegram

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

269. In view of the forthcoming Brussels Conference I believe that the following summary of the attitude of the Soviet Government thereto will be of value to the Department. The summary is in part based on the Soviet press which is accepted here as expressing the views of the Kremlin. The views of the press therefore have practically official significance.

The Soviet Union has always been critically and unfavorably disposed towards the American neutrality policy and has unhesitatingly criticised it as illusory, unreasonable, and no better than “non-intervention” in Spain (see despatch 79 of February 19, 193710). With respect to the Far East the press has condemned the policy for “causing irreparable damage to China which depends on foreign powers for war supplies …11 and for having almost no effect on Japan.” The hope has consequently been expressed that the first practical result of the President’s Chicago speech will be the restoration of the rights of the President to draw a distinction between the aggressor and the country which has become the victim of aggression and “to strike at the violator of peace without inflicting harm to the state which is defending itself.” More resolute measures to restrain Japanese aggression in China than those envisaged under American neutrality legislation are consequently recommended.
Although the press has been unusually restrained in commenting on the Soviet reaction and attitude to the convocation of the Brussels Conference itself, there is every reason to believe that the Soviet Union welcomes its convocation as an expression of collective action against Japan and would support any measures having as an objective the restraining of Japan and especially such measures as would entail the boycotting of Japanese goods, the stoppage of credits, and the prohibition [Page 88] of the export of materials of war to Japan together with direct aid economically and financially to China. On one occasion the press has recommended actual sanctions if the moral influence of the Conference proved of no avail. It has also intimated that if American and British financial circles refused credits to Japan such a move would be more serious than economic sanctions. The press has also intimated that the Soviet Union would view with disapproval a second Lytton report12 but desired to see more concrete action and actual pressure put upon Japan.
The Soviet Union is pleased that the Conference has been called by the League of Nations and that it was announced that other governments having immediate interests in the Far East would be invited to participate. The press has inferred that the Nine Power Pact failed because of the non-invitation of the Soviet Union to participate therein.
The press has been enthusiastic in its praise of President’s Chicago speech and maintains that the recent declaration of the State Department is “a preparatory step of the United States in an international attempt to restrain Japan.”
  1. Foreign Relations, The Soviet Union, 1933–1939, p. 372.
  2. Omission indicated in the original telegram.
  3. Reference to League of Nations, Appeal by the Chinese Government, Report of the Commission of Enquiry (C.663.M.320.1932.VII); the Earl of Lytton was Chairman of the Commission.