The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 20.]
Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 1945 of December 16, 1938,1 reporting the visit to Moscow of a large Finnish Delegation for the purpose of attending the official inauguration of the new Finnish Legation, I have the honor to inform the Department that another Finnish delegation which came to Moscow a few weeks ago for the purpose of exploring the possibilities of expanding trade between the two countries departed therefrom during the course of the last week prior to the completion of its negotiations.
The Finnish Minister here2 and members of his Legation have stated that the reason for such a departure was because “the Soviet authorities put forth certain propositions not in conformity with the policy of neutrality followed by Finland.” He also stated that, if the Finnish Government had been aware that the Soviet authorities intended to introduce matters of a political nature into the commercial talks, the delegation would not have proceeded to Moscow, and he added that, although he could not be positive in the matter, nevertheless he felt that further commercial conversations would not be continued, at least not in the near future, with the Soviet Government.
While it is understood that the Finnish Legation here has limited itself thus far to the statement set forth above in respect of the reason for breaking off the commercial talks, it has been suggested that the propositions allegedly put forth by the Soviet authorities probably related to the desire of the Soviet Government to obtain some form of assurance from the Finnish Government that in the eventuality of war involving the Soviet Union the Aland Islands would not be utilized so as to protect German trade with Sweden, particularly in respect of deliveries of Swedish iron ore to Germany. It is also possible that the guarantee which the Soviet authorities, as stated in my dispatch [Page 953] number 2184 of March 16, 1939,3 might be envisaging, with a view to reducing in time of war the danger to Soviet territory of a refortification of the Islands, was introduced into these commercial discussions and proved unacceptable to the Finnish Government. Although the Embassy is not in a position to confirm or deny the correctness of the suggestion, nevertheless, in view of the recent indications, as reported in the Embassy’s despatch number 2147 of March 1, 1939,3 of the concern with which the Soviet Government regards the refortification by Finland of the Aland Islands, it is likely that the matter was injected by the Soviet authorities into the recent discussions with the Finnish Delegation in Moscow and resulted in an interruption of the conversations in question.