740.0011 European War 1939/18363: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

147. Personal for the President and the Secretary. You might be interested to know that immediately following Eden’s return from [Page 492] Russia the Turkish Ambassador,1 the Polish Ambassador2 and the three Ministers from the Baltic States3 all contacted me. The Turkish Ambassador was concerned about the general situation and wanted to wish the United States well and explain the friendly attitude of Turkey toward us. The three Baltic Ministers were disturbed about their future sovereignty, and Polish Minister [Ambassador?] about frontiers and about the possibility of Russia again taking over Lithuania, whose Baltic sea front he said, because of its contours, threw it naturally into the Polish geographical sphere. He was pleading for a continuance of Lithuania as a state but explained too that he officially could not take that position because Poland today is so dependent upon Russia.

Maisky4 also called on me. When Eden talked with Stalin and the latter asked for a treaty with the British he undoubtedly claimed British recognition of Russia’s right to the Baltic States. Stalin also wanted British recognition of the Finnish frontier as established at the end of the late Finnish-Russian war and Bessarabia. As I understand it he recognized his obligations and the sovereign rights of countries in the Near East and was willing to leave to the period of final peace negotiations the consideration of Polish frontiers.

When Eden explained his inability to engage in a treaty because it required not only British consent but also the consent of the Dominions as well, he further told him that he had promised the United States that they would make no commitments without agreement by United States. Stalin accepted his statements. When he returned the next morning, however, Stalin tossed a copy of the British-Turkish Treaty5 over to him and asked him point-blank if they did not want to make treaties with Russia because they did not trust her. Eden persuaded him out of this position, explaining the difference between what Stalin had asked for and the Turkish Treaty which had not been consummated without Dominion consent; but he had the feeling that the question of establishing trust presented a very real problem. I think Eden was personally impressed with the reasonableness of the Russian demand.

Maisky in his conversation told me part of this story arguing that all Russia wanted was a recognition by England which simply required consent on our part. These questions will come up for discussion [Page 493] in the British Cabinet when the Prime Minister returns.6 I would specially ask that they be not broached to the Prime Minister unless he himself has introduced the subject as the British recognize the binding obligation of their promise to us and there is no question of recognition without consent by us. Eden wanted to personally discuss these demands with the Prime Minister rather than inject them in the discussions in Washington before he had an opportunity to personally make a full report to the Prime Minister. He gave me the details of his conversations with Stalin with the understanding that I would be fully informed of his conversations with the Prime Minister and for me to report them to my Government. The inforniation Maisky gave me however was not conditioned in any way.

  1. Tewfik Rushdi Aras.
  2. Count Edward Raczynski, also Polish Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. August Torma, Estonian Minister; Charles Zarine, Latvian Minister; and Bronius Balutis, Lithuanian Minister.
  4. Ivan Mikhailovich Maisky, Soviet Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  5. Treaty of Mutual Assistance, between Great Britain and France, and Turkey, signed at Ankara on October 19, 1939: for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cc, p. 167, or Department of State Bulletin, November 11, 1939, p. 544.
  6. Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill was on a trip to Washington and other places.