861.00 Supreme Soviet/28: Telegram

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

338. Embassy’s telegram 337, March 29, 10 p.m. The text of Molotov’s speech as published in the press today follows without important departures the outline given in the Embassy’s telegram under reference and as the full text has been sent abroad in English translation by Tass,38 no further general summary will be telegraphed.

Molotov’s speech in general followed the expected lines in emphasizing the intention and the desire of the Soviet Union to avoid participation in the present European war as well as a willingness on that basis to have improved relations with England and France, but he likewise made it clear that the Soviet Union has no intention of altering its present attitude toward Germany which makes Soviet “neutrality” a matter of definition. The most specific part of the speech dealt with relations with Rumania and may be regarded as an [Page 193] assurance to that country that the Soviet Union has no intention at present to attempt a forcible solution of the Bessarabian question but at the same time intimating that genuine improvement in Soviet-Rumanian relation would require a settlement of that question. A reference to the “long delay in the appointment of a Minister to Rumania” due to the Butenko affair39 is regarded by some as forecasting the appointment of a Soviet Minister in the near future, possibly with the intention of opening through diplomatic channels discussions in regard to Bessarabia. The slight note of dissatisfaction with the progress of relations with Japan is believed due in large part to the failure of Japan to respond to previous indications of a Soviet willingness to adjust its political relations with that country.40

As a whole the speech is regarded as moderate in tone and as indicating a disposition on the part of the Soviet Government to avoid any complications if possible in its relations with other countries while continuing the policy of collaboration with Germany.

  1. Telegraph agency of the Soviet Union, an official communications organization of the Soviet Government.
  2. Fedor Butenko, Soviet Chargé d’Affaires in Bucharest, who left Rumania in February 1938, and went to Rome, where an emissary of the Rumanian Government identified him on February 27. The Soviet Government professed not to believe in this flight, and attempted to put pressure on Rumania.
  3. For Japanese relations with the Axis Powers and the Soviet Union, see vol. i, pp. 633 ff.