761.93/12–1544: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the President 1

top secret

Personal and Top Secret for the President from Harriman.

In my talk with Stalin last night I said that you were anxious to know what political questions he had indicated in October should be clarified in connection with Russia’s entry in the war against Japan. He went into the next room and brought out a map. He said that the Kurile Islands and the lower Sakhalin should be returned to Russia. He explained that the Japanese now controlled the approaches to Vladivostok, that we considered that the Russians were entitled to protection for their communications to this important port and that “all outlets to the Pacific were now held or blocked by the enemy”. He drew a line around the southern part of the Liaotung Peninsula including Port Arthur and Dairen saying that the Russians wished again to lease these ports and the surrounding area.

I said that I recalled that you and he had discussed this question at Teheran and that, if my memory was correct, you had in fact initiated yourself the question of the need for Russia to have access to a warm water port in the Pacific but that on the other hand I thought you had in mind an international free port rather than the lease of this area by the Russians; that this method, you felt, would give the Soviets the needed protection and was more in the line with present day concepts of how international questions of this kind could best be dealt with. He said “This can be discussed”, Stalin said further that he wished to lease the Chinese-Eastern Railway. I asked him to define the exact lines in Manchuria in which he was interested and he pointed out the line from Dairen to Harbin thence northwest to Manchuli and east to Vladivostok. He answered affirmatively when I asked if these were the only railroad lines in Manchuria in which he was [Page 379]interested. In answer to my question he specifically reaffirmed that he did not intend to interfere with the sovereignty of China in Manchuria. There is of course no doubt that with control of the railroad operations and with the probability of Russian troops to protect the railroad Soviet influence will be great. He said the only consideration he had not mentioned at Teheran was the recognition of the status quo in Outer Mongolia—the maintenance of the Republic of Outer Mongolia as an independent identity.

This latter did not surprise me as I have been convinced for many months that this would be the Soviet attitude because of their desire for protection for their long southern Siberian boundary.

Except for my remarks regarding the ports I made no comment. I will not bring the subject up again unless you instruct me to do so. I feel that if you wish more detailed information it might be useful for me to obtain it prior to your meeting.

  1. Sent by the United States Naval Attaché, Moscow, via Navy channels.