The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3:55 p.m.]
335. My telegram No. 323, March 23, 11 a.m.87 The French Chargé told me in strict confidence yesterday that in delivering to him the reply of the Soviet Government on March 26 concerning the recall of Suritz, Molotov had inquired why the French Government had chosen to receive [seize?] upon the incident of the telegram and had implied that in the opinion of the Soviet Government there were motives of policy behind the request for the recall of Suritz. When the Chargé d’Affaires had told him that in his opinion it was simply that because of this incident Suritz had become personally unacceptable [Page 596] to the French Government, Molotov appeared distinctly relieved at the intimation that the request for Suritz’s recall had not been motivated by reason of policy.
As of possible interest in connection with the general subject of the present trend of Soviet maneuvers in regard to England and France a member of the British Embassy has stated in confidence that according to the latest reports from London, Maiski has been very active in attempting to convince the British Government that the Soviet Union is genuinely neutral in regard to the European war and that the relations between the Soviet Union and Germany are not in reality as close as they may appear. According to my informant, Maiski has urged upon the British Government the desirability of adopting a more friendly attitude toward the Soviet Government in order to avoid pushing that country “into the arms of Germany.”
The foregoing constitutes increasing evidence of support of the view previously reported (see my telegram No. 328, March 25, 2 p.m.89) that the Soviet Government will endeavor to avert or at least forestall any rupture with England and France which might lead to hostilities with those countries by a resumption of attempts to hold out the hope of an alteration in Soviet policy toward Germany. While it may be accepted that the Soviet Government, following the termination of hostilities with Finland, in its own self-interest will endeavor to avoid too great a degree of dependency upon Germany, the transparence of any maneuver designed to convey the impression of a basic alteration in its policy toward Germany is obvious. All the evidence at my disposal indicates that in reality the policy of collaboration with Germany will continue and as previously reported I have reason to believe, based on statements from members of the German Embassy here, that Germany, far from discouraging any attempt of the Soviet Union to relieve the strain on its relations with England and France, may well have advised such a course.
In connection with the foregoing it is regarded as probable that Molotov’s speech at the forthcoming session of the Supreme Soviet90 will lay emphasis on the “neutrality” of the Soviet Union and a desire on the part of the Soviet Union for good relations with all countries.
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- The substance of Molotov’s speech before the Supreme Council (Soviet) on the evening of March 29 was reported and commented upon by the Chargé in the Soviet Union in his telegrams No. 337, March 29, No. 338, March 30, and No. 341, April 1, vol. iii, pp. 191, 192, and 193, respectively.↩