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

No. 1805

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s confidential instruction of April 16 transmitting to the Embassy for delivery to the Soviet Government a certified copy of the final act of the International Civil Aviation Conference. In the Department’s instruction the Embassy was advised that the United States Government was very desirous of seeing the Soviet Government adhere to the Chicago documents in the manner which was prescribed in the documents and was particularly desirous of seeing the Soviet Government join the Provisional International organization. The Department, however, left to the Embassy discretion whether any expression of such hopes should be conveyed to the Soviet authorities at this time.

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The Embassy did not feel that it would be advisable to make any statement to the Soviet Government which would imply that our Government was greatly concerned that it should adhere to the Provisional International Organization. Statements of this sort have a tendency to cause the Russians to feel that they have got something somebody else wants and that they probably have not put a high enough price on it. This sometimes leads to steps on their part which are quite different from those we wish them to take. In transmitting the final act, the Embassy therefore limited itself to the statement that “the United States Government for its part would welcome participation of the Soviet Government in the Provisional International Organization”. A copy of the Embassy’s note of May 235 to the Foreign Office is enclosed for the records of the Department, as well as the brief acknowledgement thereto from the Foreign Office dated May 30 and its translation.5

In this connection reference is made to Mr. Stokeley Morgan’s office memorandum5 of May 16 to TRC6—Mr. Taft, in which in addition to seeking the above information Mr. Morgan states that the Department “would also be interested in knowing the Ambassador’s views as to whether or not the Soviet Government plans to participate in the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization and also what the possibilities are of receiving, under a bilateral agreement or otherwise, rights for an American air carrier to enter Russia on the proposed route from Helsinki to Leningrad and on to Moscow, with commercial rights at Leningrad and Moscow.”

The Embassy has had no indication from the Soviet Government as to its plans to participate in the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization. However, the Soviet Government refused to participate in the Chicago Conference because certain states “hostile to it” (i.e. Spain, Portugal, Switzerland) had been invited to take part therein.7 The Embassy notes that these states are apparently participating members of the Provisional Organization. The participation of the Soviet Government in this organization would thus signify a lack of consistency on its part and would appear to be sufficient reason in the eyes of the Soviet Government for its refusal to join. In addition there would seem to be certain undertakings set forth in Article 13 of the Interim Agreement which, in the view of the Embassy, the Soviet Government might quite possibly object to assuming.

It may be pointed out that no substantive reply has been made to the Embassy’s communication of May 23 by June 7, the date (six months after December 7, 1944) on which the Soviet Government, [Page 1460] according to Article 16 of the Interim Agreement (Appendix I), must accept the interim agreement in order to become a member of the council of the Provisional Organization. The Department’s instruction of April 16 does not make it clear whether this time limit also applies to the Soviet Union.

With respect to Mr. Morgan’s inquiry regarding the possibility of receiving under a bilateral agreement, or otherwise, rights for an American air carrier to enter Russia on the proposed route from Helsinki to Leningrad and on to Moscow, the Embassy doubts that established American air carriers will be permitted to enter the Soviet Union on this or any other proposed route. The Soviet Government has made it sufficiently clear on a number of occasions that air transit over Soviet territory except in exceptional cases would be carried out only by Soviet aircraft. Furthermore, so long as Finland is under an armistice regime9 it is not likely that the Soviet authorities will permit United States aircraft to proceed to Helsinki. More likely they will endeavor to connect up American or other lines in Stockholm or some point outside the Soviet Union or Soviet controlled areas.

Respectfully yours,

W. A. Harriman
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Office of Transport and Communications Policy.
  5. See note from the Soviet Ambassador dated October 26, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, p. 571.
  6. For documentation regarding U.S. interest in the Armistice with Finland of September 19, 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iii, pp. 608 ff.