861.6363/422: Telegram

The Second Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union (Thompson) to the Secretary of State

19. E. A. Berthoud, British oil expert on Lyttelton’s19 Cairo staff, informed me last evening that he had come to Moscow to discuss a request made by Commissar of Foreign Trade Mikoyan20 to Sir Stafford Cripps21 for a formal agreement with precise commitments in place of the oral British assurances respecting the supply of oil to Russia in the event that the destruction of the Caucasus oil fields should become necessary. Berthoud said that the British view was that a formal agreement was not necessary, that it would involve complications with the British dominions and Britain’s allies and that it would be extremely difficult to work out precise commitments with respect to such an uncertain contingency.22

Berthoud did not see Mikoyan but was referred to his assistant Krutikov23 who told him that the Soviet Government does not now consider a formal agreement to be necessary. In reply to a question Krutikov said that this change of view was chiefly due to the improvement in the military situation.

In this connection Berthoud said that the evacuation of equipment in one of the Caucasian fields had begun on December 4 but had been stopped on December 15 by orders from Moscow. He said that the British experts sent to assist in this work had been amazed at the thoroughness and speed with which it was being carried out.

Repeated to Kuibyshev.

  1. Oliver Lyttelton, British Minister of State and member of the War Cabinet from July 1, 1941; representative of the War Cabinet in the Middle East to concert non-military measures in that area.
  2. Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan.
  3. British Ambassador in the Soviet Union until January 22, 1942; on February 19, Lord Privy Seal and in the War Cabinet as Leader of the House of Commons.
  4. For the original request for an agreement covering the supply of oil in these circumstances, see telegram No. 2001, December 1, 1941, from the Chargé in the Soviet Union, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, p. 660.
  5. Alexey Dmitriyevich Krutikov, Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.