740.00/1381: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State


640. My 628, May 6, 2 p.m.79 Instructions for the British reply to the Russian proposals were cabled to Moscow Saturday,80 not Friday, night. The British Ambassador before communicating the reply and discussing it with the new Soviet Minister for Foreign Affairs is to assure himself that the Russian proposals (my 514, April 18, 7 p.m.) still stand and that the change of Foreign Ministers does not indicate any vital change in Russian foreign policy. If the Ambassador discovers any reason to believe that there is such a change, he will delay presenting the British reply and will telegraph for further instructions.

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Poland and Turkey occupy the key positions in the system which the British are now endeavoring to perfect. With respect to Turkey [Page 253] there is no difficulty as far as Russia is concerned, for the Turkish Government is quite willing to associate itself with the Soviet Government in any defensive arrangements that may be reached. The situation of Poland however is entirely different and the attitude of Poland toward any close political association with the Soviet Government is well known to that Government and must as a fact be taken into account. This attitude is that the German Government would regard any political association between Poland and Soviet Russia as provocative and such an association would involve Poland in a risk of war which ought to be avoided. The same considerations would apply to the cases of Rumania.

The British feel that the most effective way in building up a front against aggressors is to start with what is practicable to realize at once and that the first step is to endeavor to assure the safety of states most menaced in Eastern Europe. To this end the cooperation of the Soviet Government is regarded as of the greatest importance. British efforts have therefore been directed toward finding some means of circumventing the difficulties above described. The new proposal to the Soviet Government has however been drafted in the light of the Soviet counter-proposals and of British consultations with other governments.

Official opinion is still uncertain as to whether the new proposal will be acceptable to Russia. This uncertainty is of course accentuated by lack of information as to whether Russian foreign policy will change with the resignation of Litvinov. No light has yet been thrown on the new set-up.

  1. Not printed.
  2. May 6.