740.00/1423: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Ghrummon) to the Secretary of State

233. My 231, May 10, 9 a.m.81 The communiqué82 reported in my telegram under reference, which was the first indication to the Soviet public that any negotiations were being held with the British Government, has been generally interpreted here as reflecting Soviet dissatisfaction with the British counterproposals at least in their present form. The British Embassy here while admitting that the communiqué is misleading concerning the nature and contents of the British proposal, nevertheless, professes to consider its publication [Page 254] as of little significance in regard to the real Soviet attitude towards these proposals or as indicating a possible Soviet refusal thereof. A member of that Embassy has stated that yesterday, that is, prior to the issuance of the communiqué, the Soviet Ambassador in London had called at the Foreign Office to seek further clarification of the British counterproposal and assurances that no possibility existed under the proposed arrangement whereby the Soviet Union might be involved alone in a war as a result of any commitments to Poland and Rumania, and that although oral assurances on this point had been given, Maisky had expressed the desire of the Soviet Government to obtain written confirmation to this effect from the French and British Governments. My informant emphasized that since Maisky’s request had been concerned with the form rather than the substance of the British proposals in the first place it presented no real difficulty. He admitted, however, that there was some slight divergence between the views of the French and British Governments in regard to these proposals and indicated that the statement in the Tass communiqué that the French Government “had no objections” to the British proposals was a reference to this difference of opinion of which the Soviet Government was aware. He added that the Soviet reply was expected shortly but that it was not yet certain whether it would be delivered to the Embassy here or by the Soviet Ambassador in London.

Despite the guarded optimism expressed by the British Embassy here in regard to the nature of the Soviet reply it is thought possible that the misleading implications in the Soviet communiqué and the emphasis placed on the allegedly one-sided nature of the British proposals may have been the means to prepare Soviet and foreign public opinion for a possible Soviet rejection of these proposals.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Issued by the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (Tass) for publication in the Soviet press, May 10.