740.0011 European War 1939/485: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Phillips) to the Secretary of State

419. The newly appointed Italian Ambassador to London, Bastianini, expressed to me yesterday his certainty that the Russian move into Poland had been prearranged with the German Government. For the present at least he believes that the Baltic States will remain unaffected but the immediate danger now concerns Rumania which will be the first to feel the shock of the oncoming Russians into the [Page 448] Balkans. He is apprehensive that the Russians will endeavor to reach Yugoslavia and that this communistic peril is of greater danger to Italy than the British-German struggle. In reply to my inquiry as to what in his opinion Germany would do in such circumstances Bastianini indicated the possibility of a German-Russian contest for eastern Europe.

If Bastianini’s attitude represents that of Mussolini, which I assume it does, it is not difficult to understand the new orientation of Italian policy which at the moment is expressed by strict neutrality.