The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)
535. The Foreign Liaison Section of G–2,19 War Department has drawn the attention of the Department to an arrangement which the Soviet Purchasing Commission20 has made with the Air Transport Command, without reference to either the Department or the War Department, for the transportation of official Soviet passengers and mail to the Soviet Union. According to this information, at the end of January General Rudenko approached the head of the Air Transport Command21 with the request that the ATC provide transportation for passengers and Soviet diplomatic mail from Washington to Great Falls, Montana, “on a special mission basis”. At Great Falls these passengers and mail were to be transferred to Lend-Lease22 planes scheduled for delivery to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Purchasing Commission estimated that ATC facilities would be required once or twice a month for passengers and approximately 3,800 pounds of mail per flight. The ATC agreed to make available such transportation and since the end of January in 4 flights has provided transportation between Washington and Great Falls for 12 Soviet official passengers and approximately 14,400 pounds of “diplomatic mail” for the Soviet Purchasing Commission. The Foreign Liaison Section of G–2, War Department, is concerned at the volume of material which the Soviet Purchasing Commission is sending out of the country without any possibility of control since this large quantity of mail is sent out “under diplomatic seal”.
In addition to the security element it was further pointed out that the Soviet Government is obtaining American facilities for the transportation of mail to the Soviet Union including the utilizaton of planes delivered to the Soviet Government under Lend-Lease for the transportation of official passengers and mail without any reciprocal facilities being offered us by the Soviet Government.
It is obvious that the Soviet Government would have little interest in the improvement of air communications for the transportation of passengers and mail between the United States and the Soviet Union, [Page 949] concerning which as you know several proposals have been submitted to the Soviet Government, if their needs are being adequately covered by the above arrangements. Since we have no agreement with the Soviet Government limiting the weight or quantity of diplomatic mail the Department does not feel that there is any ground for objecting to the quantity of diplomatic mail going from the Soviet Embassy. However, before replying to the War Department on the second point, namely, that of reciprocal facilities, the Department would like to have your views and those of General Deane.
In the meantime the War Department is requesting the Air Transport Command not to accede to any further requests for “special missions” without consultation with both the War and State Departments.
- Military Intelligence.↩
- The Government Purchasing Commission of the Soviet Union in the United States was appointed on February 27, 1942; Lt. Gen. Leonid Georgiyevich Rudenko was Chairman of the Commission in 1944.↩
- Maj. Gen. Harold Lee George, Commanding General, Air Transport Command, Army Air Forces (since 1942).↩
- The master Lend-Lease Agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union was signed at Washington on June 11, 1942. The text of the agreement and exchange of notes is printed in Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 253, and 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1500.↩