The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Steinhardt ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 10:27 p.m.]
219. Mr. Assarsson, the new Swedish Minister, called to see me this afternoon. As we are old friends from Stockholm and Lima he gave [Page 294] me a detailed composite account of his talks with Molotov and Kalinin66 on the occasion of the presentation of his letters of credence yesterday. He said he gained the impression that the Soviet Government might be prepared to consider peace with Finland but only on terms considerably more onerous than those proposed during the negotiations which preceded the outbreak of the war. He was of the opinion that the Soviet Union would demand the entire Karelian Isthmus to Viborg, Hango and a relatively small piece of territory northeast of Lake Ladoga but that it might be willing to surrender its claim to the Rybachii Peninsula and would probably be willing to offer some territory in Central Karelia as compensation. He said that Molotov had not mentioned Kuusinen’s name but that Kalinin had stressed the necessity of Kuusinen being a member of a new Finnish government. He said that Kalinin had said to him “You know, Kuusinen is not at all Communist” and he inferred that the Soviet government might be satisfied with the inclusion of Kuusinen in a new Finnish government without the necessity of a government dominated by Kuusinen or of a Communist government. He said he felt that the Soviet Government might be prepared to accept a really Finnish democratic government provided Kuusinen were included and that in his opinion this would be the principal stumbling block and that while the Finns might be prepared to cede the Karelian Isthmus up to Viborg, and even Hango, no Finnish negotiators would dare to include Kuusinen even as a minority member of a truly Finnish democratic cabinet.
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It is not yet clear whether the intimations of a possible Soviet disposition to consider peace negotiations with Finland are genuine or whether they are in part motivated by a desire to influence the attitude of the Scandinavian countries in regard to increased assistance to Finland by playing on their obvious self-interest in holding out the prospects of a negotiated peace with an independent Finland. In this connection it is of interest to note that Molotov’s remarks to the German Ambassador,67 which apparently closely paralleled his statements to the Swedish Minister, conveyed the impression to the former that there was little prospect of a negotiated peace.