Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Soviet Ambassador10 called to see me by arrangement this afternoon.

I said to the Ambassador that I would be glad to know what his opinion would be with regard to recent developments in the Far East. I said that I had been glad to learn from various sources that, subsequent to the official declaration of the Soviet Union some weeks ago11 reasserting its policy under the agreement with China of 193712 covering the contingency that either of the two contracting parties would be the victim of aggression, the Soviet Union had sent valuable war matériel to the government of Chungking. The Ambassador said that he was glad to tell me that this was in fact the case and that he believed under new credit arrangements entered into, considerable additional quantities of ammunition, airplanes and armaments would be sent to the Chungking government from the Soviet Union. I asked the Ambassador whether he thought any progress had been made in the negotiations between Japan and the Soviet Union. He replied that so far as he was informed, no progress had been made. He then referred with some vehemence to the efforts of individuals and groups in the United States who were playing Japan’s game, as he phrased it, to stir up trouble between the Soviet Union and the United States. I replied that as he and I had said in a conversation some weeks ago, the maintenance of peace and the maintenance of the status quo in the Pacific area was a question in which the Soviet Union and the Unted States had similar interests. I added that it seemed to me that the fixing by Japan of political, economic and military domination over China and the spreading of Japanese hegemony through the southern Pacific was obviously something inimical to the interests of both of our countries. The Ambassador [Page 4] said that he was wholly in accord and that while he did not believe that Japan would ultimately succeed in that objective, nevertheless he thought it more than likely that Japan would make the attempt.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Konstantin Alexandrovich Umansky.
  2. See memorandum of December 17, 1940, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Henderson), Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. iii , in section under Union of Soviet Socialist Republics entitled “Reports on Developments of Significance …”.
  3. Nonaggression treaty signed at Nanking, August 21, 1937, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxxi, p. 101.