740.00118 European War 1939/359a: Telegram

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

851. A. The War Department has been informed by Yeaton that the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs continues to adhere to its former rigid travel restrictions and that information regarding troop dispositions along front is still withheld. It has requested the Department, through diplomatic channels, to endeavor to prevail upon the appropriate Soviet authorities to relax these restrictions and to arrange for American military attachés to accompany Soviet troops in current operations. The War Department also desires to ascertain whether the detail of several American military observers to be attached to the Soviet armies and of one military observer to be stationed in Vladivostok would be agreeable to the Soviet Government.

B. In view of the situation as outlined in your 991, May 17, 4 p.m., and Department’s 768, June 7, midnight [1 p.m.],5 as well as Department’s 777, June 10, 2 p.m.,6 we do not know whether it would be opportune to approach the Soviet Government on this matter at this time. We, therefore, leave entirely to your discretion the decision [Page 889] whether you should take up with the Soviet authorities the requests of the War Department.

Since we believe that the present situation somewhat obviates the application of the principle of reciprocity in so far as travel restrictions are concerned, we are prepared either to annul or relax the restrictions set forth in the Department’s 768 of June 7, 1 p.m. Furthermore, in connection with the Department’s telegram no. 777, June 10, 2 p.m., as a friendly gesture, we have under consideration the advisability of permitting the two Soviet assistant military attachés, who are at present waiting sailing, to remain in this country.7 We would appreciate your views on these moves and especially whether you believe they would favorably affect the position of the Embassy in Moscow.

Welles
  1. Latter not printed; but see note of June 7 to the Ambassador of the Soviet Union, p. 883.
  2. Not printed; but see note of June 10 to the Ambassador of the Soviet Union, p. 621.
  3. See memorandum of July 14 by the Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs, p. 629.