811.79661/68: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Standley) to the Secretary of State

446. Department’s 283, May 5, 7 p.m., and 256, April 27, 4 p.m.34 I took occasion last evening to discuss with Molotov air communications between the Soviet Union and America. I referred to the proposed establishment of a British airline through the Near East into Russia35 and in reply Molotov said that the British and Russians had thus far been unable to come to any definite agreement on the question; that the Russians still could not obtain a clear picture as to what the British had in mind. I emphasized the unsatisfactory state of air communications between Moscow and Tehran and proposed that an American airline be established between the two cities by extending the present American facilities in Tehran into Russia. Molotov stated that up to the present time there did not appear to exist a need for a regular Moscow-Tehran air service—that if such a need developed the Soviet Government would take steps to improve the existing facilities. He intimated that it might be advisable to come to some definite agreement in respect to air services, accommodations, courier, etc., between the United States and the Soviet Union but seemed to insist that the Moscow-Tehran section of an American Russian line be under Soviet control and operation.

In case the Department desires to enter into any such a formal agreement I would appreciate receiving an indication of its views on the matter.

I also discussed at length the possibilities of the Alsib36 route as a vital link in communications. Molotov admitted that the route had “practicable possibilities” which he promised to have studied by the Soviet air authorities. I advised him of the Department’s desire to have shipped monthly by this route Soviet publications up to 100 lbs. in weight. Molotov said that he would cause the entire question to be examined and would communicate with me again.

I also told Molotov that I wished to visit the Ural industrial area, Alma Ata and Tashkent and that the Navy Department had offered [Page 650] to make available to me a plane for my private use in the Soviet Union. Molotov replied that it would be quite agreeable for me to make the suggested tour in an American airplane. I explained that this question was pretty much a personal matter but that I considered the Alsib and African air services as of the utmost importance not only now but after the war.

I continue to believe that the establishment of regular and rapid air communications between the United States and Russia is of the utmost importance not only in connection with our common war effort but also as a means of endeavoring to bring about closer postwar collaboration. I therefore suggest that the Department discuss this question in detail with the interested American authorities and keep me fully advised of any development.

I pointed out that General Burns37 had been authorized to return by the Alsib route and had been instructed to investigate the possibility of increasing the amount of supplies coming over it. He should be in a position to discuss this question on his return to Washington.


[In telegram No. 501, May 22, 1 p.m., (121.861/160) Ambassador Standley reported that on May 20 he had presented Mr. Davies to the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Molotov. Arrangements were at once made for Davies to see Premier Stalin at 9 p.m. that evening. At this interview Davies presented to Stalin the letter he had brought with him from President Roosevelt, dated May 5. The text of this letter is printed in Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, page 3. See also telegram No. 498, May 21, 4 p.m., from the Ambassador in the Soviet Union, ibid., page 5.]

  1. Neither printed.
  2. The Department had informed Ambassador Standley in telegram No. 283, May 5, 7 p.m., that it was expected that “the British will be requesting permission from the Soviet authorities to operate a service from Tehran into Russia.” The Ambassador was instructed within his own discretion “to take up with the Soviet Government the question of a paralleling American service, in the establishment of which the War Department is now very much interested.” (841.79661/9)
  3. Alaska–Siberia.
  4. Maj. Gen. James H. Burns, Executive, Munitions Assignments Board, United States and Great Britain, Washington, temporarily visiting in the Soviet Union.