The Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government in Exile (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

No. 17

Sir: I have the honor herein to report the following substance of my very recent conversation with Prime Minister Jovanović concerning Yugoslav-Russian relations.

Referring to the recent wave of articles in the press concerning Moscow’s views on General Mihailović’s activities, Prime Minister Jovanović said that he had had several very recent conversations with Russian Ambassador Bogomolov.27 The latter had made it a point to emphasize that what had been said in the press had in no way affected the Russian Government’s attitude towards the Yugoslav Government; [Page 975]that he hoped that the latter would treat the Note of August 1942 referring to certain evidence as to Mihailović’s collaboration with the Axis more in the light of an observation than as a matter bearing on relations between the Yugoslav and Russian Governments. Bogomolov had gone on to reiterate what he had stated on former occasions; that his Government was disinclined to respond to the Yugoslav Government’s request that it intervene in the civil conflict within Yugoslavia; that it appeal to the partisans to desist from further opposition to general Mihailović’s forces.

In reciting the foregoing, the Prime Minister did not attempt to suppress an amused smile. He added that there “you have an example of modern Russian diplomacy”. It had become clear to him lately, he concluded, that Moscow was bent upon discrediting the Governments of occupied countries, particularly in the “Middle Zone” area, not only with their respective populations, but also in the eyes of Washington and London. An interesting observation on the trend of Yugoslav-British and Yugoslav-Russian relations was that during the period of tense relations between the Yugoslav and British Governments concerning difficulties with the Yugoslav forces in the Cairo area, the Russian Government had gone out of its way to be nice to his Government. Now, while Moscow was attacking Mihailović in the press, the British Government had been especially cordial to his Government. To his mind, the fact that British officers were cooperating with Mihailović indicated ample proof that Mihailović possessed considerably more strength and better prospects than the Russians would like to have the world think. He still felt that the Russians were highly suspicious of British interests in the Balkans in general, and in Yugoslavia particularly. At this point he reminded me of Bogomolov’s recent and already reported remark, that if the Yugoslav Government was unable to communicate directly with Mihailović and had to depend on sending and receiving messages through the British, the Yugoslav Government could hardly be certain either as to the contents of these messages or as to conditions in Yugoslavia itself.

Respectfully yours,

A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
  1. Alexander Bogomolov, Soviet Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government in Exile at London.