740.0011 European War 1939/4112: Telegram

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

732. The Tass communiqué reported in my 73110 would appear to confirm statements made to me this evening by the Counselor of the Italian Embassy, Mr. Mascia, that Ambassador Rosso had inquired of Molotov with respect to the activities of the new British and French Ambassadors. Molotov replied that Labonne “appealed” for help of the Soviet Union in preserving European equilibrium and that he had informed Labonne coldly that the preservation of “French equilibrium” was not a matter of concern to the Soviet Government. Cripps, according to Molotov, had suggested that Soviet interests lay with those of the Allies and that the Soviet Union should assume [the] role in the Balkans to which it is entitled. Molotov’s reply to Cripps, while less abrupt, is said to have conveyed the intimation that the Soviet Government does not require assistance in judging where its interests lie. Further confirmation may perhaps be inferred from the fact that Molotov has not yet granted Cripps the further interview he requested several days ago.

Despite the foregoing, however, it is generally believed here that the Soviet Government is in fact disturbed by the prospect of an early German victory. It is also believed to be true that Soviet forces in considerable strength have been distributed to cover the western frontier. Moreover, whether as a result of loquacity on the part of the British and French Embassies (members of each of which have informed members of this Embassy of the general trend of the British and French efforts and may have informed others thereof as well) or merely because it is a logical assumption, the impression has become general in Moscow that an attempt is being made to bring about a shift in Soviet policy. It is probable, therefore, that the communiqué cited is largely designed to mollify the German Government.

  1. June 22, 10 p.m., p. 556.