123 Standley, Wm. H./15: Telegram

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

157. After considerable hesitation I venture respectfully to express the opinion that the departure of Ambassador Standley should not be postponed to the extent implied in the Department’s 69, February 13, 10 p.m.,30 but that on the contrary he should if possible proceed to his post at once.31

Apart from the general inadvisability of leaving this mission without a chief for a period of 5 or 6 months at this juncture, there are specific considerations which I believe make it advisable for us to have an Ambassador here who could overcome bureaucratic barriers and gain access to the real directive center of the Soviet Government and in particular exchange views and war plans with Stalin.32 It is hardly necessary for me to remind the Department that a Chargé d’Affaires (and in fact most Ministers and Ambassadors) is restricted to dealings with lesser Soviet functionaries who are seldom empowered to engage in constructive discussion on even minor matters. It seems obvious that decisive developments in the present World War will occur during the next 90 days and that, without disparaging the British war effort or the military operations of the Chinese Nationalist Government, Russia (as the only power actually at grips with Germany and likely to be in a position to inflict physical defeat upon Hitler’s armies and as the only geographical area from which effective action can be directed against Japan proper) plays a principal role.

While it is generally assumed that should Hitler be able to do so he will resume his general offensive in Russia this spring, it is possible that he may merely establish holding positions along the northern lines and direct the full force of his renewed operations to the southeast having first brought Bulgaria into the Axis as a participating and active member. Either operation might produce problems which would call for quick and direct conversations in Moscow, and similar shifts in the Far East resulting from a decline in Chinese resistance might bring about a condition (in connection with which speedy and constructive conversations should also take place) which [Page 416] would lead to hostilities between the Soviet Union and Japan and thus open the way to us for assault upon the Japanese islands.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Rear Adm. William H. Standley had been appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union on February 14, 1942. He arrived in Kuibyshev on April 7, 1942, and presented his credentials to Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union, on April 14.
  3. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, President of the Council of People’s Commissars (Premier) of the Soviet Union.