760d.61/218: Telegram

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

678. For the Minister. Numbered paragraphs correspond to the questions propounded in your telegram under reference.17

The recent policies of the Soviet Government in agreement with Germany in respect to the Baltic States appear to have as their object the realization by and with certain long known Soviet strategic aims in that area. In view of the indication in the Soviet press reported in my telegram 664, October 3, 1 p.m.,18 I consider it not unlikely that when the Soviet Government has adjusted to its satisfaction its relations with the Baltic States an endeavor may be made to force political negotiations on Finland for the purpose of securing at least Soviet naval and air bases on the Finnish islands in the vicinity of Kronstadt and possibly a Soviet base at Hanko.19 The question of Soviet participation in the régime of the Aland Islands may also be raised.
I have no reason to believe that there is any secret agreement between the Soviet and German Governments affecting the status of Finland aside from the recognition by Germany of the special interests of the Soviet Union in the Eastern Baltic and the region of the Gulf of Finland. On the evidence of the Soviet-Estonian agreement,20 it appears that German recognition of these special interests does not permit the Soviet Union in any way to impair the sovereignty of or to impose the Soviet system upon the countries in that area. I am reasonably certain that the Scandinavian countries are in no way involved.
I see no prospect of an hostile attitude on the part of the Soviet Government toward Germany in the immediate future and almost certainly not until the Soviet Union has achieved and consolidated the territorial and strategic objectives which it is at present in the process [Page 959] of obtaining as a result of its collaboration with Germany. I believe that these objectives in addition to those already achieved and the possibility discussed in number 1 above include the acquisition of Bessarabia and the neutralization of the Black Sea area in agreement with Turkey.

After these objectives have been attained the possibility of a change in Soviet policy toward Germany will depend on the then existing situation. However, all the evidence at my disposal appears to foreshadow an extended period of Soviet-German cooperation.21

The foregoing, which is merely the expression of my personal opinion and is of necessity speculative in character, is based on information received in the strictest confidence and I will therefore ask you carefully to safeguard the source and Moscow origin thereof.

  1. This telegram was sent in answer to an inquiry made directly to Ambassador Steinhardt by the Minister in Finland, which had been repeated to the Department in the latter’s telegram No. 213, October 3, not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Hangö; Khanko.
  4. For an account of the negotiations between Estonia and the Soviet Union for the Pact of Mutual Assistance signed in Moscow, September 28, 1939, see Foreign Relations, The Soviet Union, 1933–1939, pp. 934 ff.
  5. For correspondence on early attempts at German-Soviet wartime cooperation, see pp. 477 ff.