700.00116 M. E./284: Telegram

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

186. The British Ambassador called on me this afternoon to express his concern at the publicity given by the British Broadcasting Corporation this morning to Halifax’s97 remarks in Washington that he was taking up there the question of “goods to Germany through Soviet Russia from the United States” as well as the statement of Dalton98 [Page 157] in London to the effect that “conversations have been going on for some time in Washington about this traffic”. The Ambassador stated that Dalton’s alleged further remark that “both the United States and Russia know the British Government’s feelings on this subject” could not be accurate in that so far as he knew “the British Government’s feeling” had not been communicated to the Soviet Government either in Moscow or in London.

The Ambassador said that he anticipated that the consequences in Moscow of Halifax’s and Dalton’s remarks would be serious as they would unquestionably be regarded by the Soviet Government as indicating that a virtual blockade of the Soviet Union is already in effect or in contemplation by the British and American Governments and that Germany would of course take advantage of the situation by pointing out to the Soviet Union that its interests would now best be served by adherence to the Axis. He added that the desirable objective of curtailing exports from the United States to the Soviet Union which might be passed on to Germany or used in substitution for Soviet exports to Germany could and should have been attained without publicity if for no other reason than that the Soviet Government, considering its amour propre to be offended, might feel that it should give evidence of its resentment. He concluded his remarks with the observation that the proclivity of leading British statesmen to talk too much in public might yet prove very costly to Britain.

Steinhardt
  1. Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, Viscount Halifax, British Ambassador in the United States.
  2. Hugh Dalton, British Minister of Economic Warfare.