762.9411/65: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State

1251. Embassy’s 1249, September 28 [30], 2 p.m. The editorial reported in my telegram under reference appears to reflect the public position which the Soviet Government has elected at the moment to adopt in regard to the German-Italian-Japanese agreement in that it accepts at its face value the reservation contained in the pact concerning the Soviet Union and even interprets the inclusion of this reservation as proof of the efficacy of the nonaggression pacts between the Soviet Union and Germany and Italy. In regard to the general outline of the pact the most interesting feature is the blunt statement in the Pravda editorial that the United States is now making common cause in a military sense with Great Britain and that the pact presages the development of the war on a world-wide stage between Germany, Italy and Japan on the one hand and England and the United States on the [other], a development which, as the Embassy has previously reported, would not be displeasing to the Soviet Union.

Despite, however, the public acceptance through the medium of the Pravda editorial of the view that the tripartite pact will not affect the Soviet Union it must be assumed that the similarity of the present agreement between Germany, Italy and Japan and the anti-Comintern Pact has not passed unnoticed in Moscow. It will be recalled in this connection that one of the chief advantages which the Soviet Union obtained through the nonaggression pact with Germany last August was the elimination of German-Japanese cooperation directed against the Soviet Union. It is furthermore significant that while the editorial refers somewhat pointedly to the existence of nonaggression pacts between the U. S. S. R. and Germany and Italy, no mention is [Page 655] made of the effect of the German-Italian-Japanese military alliance on Soviet-Japanese relations.

In this connection the Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, while professing to be unaware of the exact nature of the instructions which the new Japanese Ambassador will bring him from Tokyo, was quite frank in stating that the general position in view of Japanese preoccupation in the south was more favorable for an improvement in Soviet-Japanese relations than at any time in the past. As the Embassy has reported since Molotov’s speech on October 31, 1939 (Embassy’s 847, November 1, 10 p.m.62) the Soviet Government has given certain indication of a disposition to reach some political agreement between Germany [the Soviet Union?] and Japan. The failure of this event to materialize appears to have been primarily due to hesitancy on the part of Tokyo. The general tone of the editorial under reference would seem to indicate that the Soviet attitude in this respect has undergone no change and that the possibility of a Japanese-Soviet political agreement has been enhanced rather than diminished by the German-Italian-Japanese alliance. Indeed, since as a result of this alliance the Soviet Union is now precluded from taking advantage by hostile action of any difficulties which Japan might encounter in the Far East, without running the risk of becoming involved in war with Germany and Italy at the same time, it is possible that the Soviet Government may be prepared to make greater concessions than heretofore particularly in respect of its assistance to China in an endeavor to reach an agreement with the Japanese.

Not repeated to Tokyo.

  1. Not printed.