The Minister in Switzerland (Harrison) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 23—7:50 p.m.]
13. I saw Halifax this afternoon and after referring to speculation respecting the Russo-British negotiations said I would greatly appreciate anything he might feel disposed to tell me in confidence.
Halifax then said that he had had several talks here with Maisky. In reply to the original British suggestion for Russian aid to Poland and Rumania, the Russians, he said, had proposed a tripartite alliance of a far-reaching character, even including an obligation to make peace in common.
The Russians, he said, had objected to the British proposal as not comprising a reciprocal obligation. His conversations however had brought out the fact that what the Russians feared above all was the collapse of Poland and/or Rumania, that the Poles might come to terms with Hitler and that the Iron Guard might eliminate Carol and let in the Nazis, then the Russians would be in the first instead of in the second line. For this reason the Russians wanted a firm tripartite agreement, something more binding and definite than the Franco-Russian Pact.84
Halifax said that the Russians also wanted guarantees extending to the Baltic States as well as to Poland and Rumania. Halifax had observed that the British and French had their own commitments in the west, also that the Baltic States might not welcome the guarantees proposed by Russia. However, in this connection Halifax said that he had talked with Munters85 and the latter had proposed a formula based on the defense of their neutrality which might prove acceptable (I hope to have an opportunity to see Munters tomorrow).[Page 258]
Halifax also said that although he was not “enamoured” of Maisky’s prosposals, he would submit them to the Cabinet tomorrow. He also observed that Russian participation was all important in any eventual assistance for Poland and Rumania.
Although he expressed the view that certain sections of British opinion would undoubtedly be opposed to the Russian proposals, I gathered the impression that Halifax will advocate their acceptance by the British Government.