740.0011 European War 1939/28004: Telegram

The Minister in Afghanistan ( Engert ) to the Secretary of State

34. Russian Ambassador4 left for Moscow January 7 for consultation. Ever since rumor has been current that Afghan and Soviet Governments are preparing to negotiate new trade agreement. Russia’s trade agent in Kabul has also recently been in Moscow. British Legation here inclined to believe rumor but has no definite information.

It is certain that as result of spectacular Russian military successes Afghan officials have been trying to improve relations with Soviets and to cultivate closer official and social contacts with Russian Embassy here. As intimated in paragraph 4 my 54, August 16, 10 p.m.5 Afghan Government had breathed a sigh of temporary relief when Axis attacked Russia and it looked as if traditional menace from north were eliminated or at least postponed. But since then prestige of Kremlin has been greatly enhanced and has revived Afghan fears that Soviets intoxicated with victories over German Armies may again show aggressive tendencies. There are as yet no indications of future course of Soviet policy toward Afghanistan but Russia has long been a most uncertain neighbor and little trust is placed here in Soviet promises and undertakings.

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With Russia in control of North Persia the Afghans fear spread of communism to other parts of Middle East although they admit that since June 1941 there has been practically no Bolshevist propaganda in Afghanistan. But if after the war Russia should emerge stronger and more aggressive than before the Afghan Government believe that communism backed by Red imperialism would become a far more formidable and sinister factor than it was as a mere social or ideological movement.

Russian victories have therefore aroused no enthusiasm in Afghanistan and only grudging admiration in military circles but the Government has become conscious of the serious risks to Afghan interests if the Soviets should be unfriendly and it may now be prepared to meet Moscow more than half way by agreeing to the kind of commercial rapprochement which the Soviets have been seeking in vain for a number of years.

Repeated to Kuibyshev.