741.61/898: Telegram

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

1078. I am informed in strict confidence by a member of the British Embassy that the meeting between Mikoyan and the British Ambassador was not “encouraging” and that Mikoyan had merely said that the Soviet Government was interested in obtaining certain specific and restricted categories of material from England and would exchange for an equivalent amount of Soviet products. Mikoyan, however, was unable to give any assurances in regard to reexport to Germany and refused to admit that there could be any connection with or restrictions on Soviet trade with Germany as a result of unsuitable [a suitable?] arrangement with England. In this connection he referred vaguely to the political situation as not being propitious. According to the informant while conversations might be continued there appeared to be little prospect of modification in the immediate future of Soviet attitude toward its economic commitments to Germany.

With reference to the attempts of Sir Stafford Cripps in Moscow to bring about an improvement of British-Soviet relations and to draw the Soviet Union away from Germany, from the same source I have learned in the strictest confidence that when Cripps saw Stalin some weeks ago (see Embassy’s 884, July 20, 4 p.m.) he pointed out at great length that Russia’s real interest lay with England since in the event of a complete German victory Russia would alone almost certainly have to fight Germany; by this time Stalin while admitting that everything was possible in international affairs made it quite clear that he did not feel in a position to risk a conflict with Germany’s Army at the present time and appeared to prefer the possibility of a future war with Germany to the very real risk of a military defeat at the present time. While the foregoing interview took place some six weeks ago, it is believed to be of considerable interest. Stalin’s statement in the opinion of the Embassy is a very frank and realistic statement of the attitude of the Soviet Government in the present situation. As of possible interest in relation to the foregoing it has been ascertained from a foreign newspaper source that Stalin is believed to have been very much annoyed that the report of the meeting with Cripps had leaked out into the foreign press and that this may be one of the reasons why he has shown no disposition to see the British Ambassador since that time.