Secretariat Files: Lot 122 (Rev.), Box 13147

Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Committee, Saturday Morning, April 21, 194573


[Here follows list of members of the Staff Committee, including absentees.]

The Committee met at 9:30 a.m.

[Page 843]

Urgent Business

Relations with the Soviet Union

The United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Mr. Harriman, continued his discussion of relations with the Soviet Union.

Mr. Grew read a telegram from Ambassador Caffery in Paris74 in which it was indicated the French Government is becoming increasingly worried about Russian expansion in Europe. Mr. Harriman said this represented a change which has developed gradually in the French attitude since General de Gaulle’s visit to Moscow.75 He said it pointed up the desirability (as he had suggested yesterday) of settling our differences with France, as well as any with Great Britain. (In this connection, Mr. Dunn informed Mr. Harriman that the Department is making every effort to improve relations with France, and that we are convincing the French Government we are working on a basis of friendly relations and support.76 He said the main point of difficulty is Indo-China, a problem now being studied77.)

Mr. Harriman went on to say that Russian plans for establishing satellite states are a threat to the world and to us. The excuse offered that they must guard against a future German menace is only a cover for other plans.

Mr. Grew asked if Soviet Government were not establishing more than spheres of influence and if it were not taking complete charge in satellite countries. Mr. Harriman said that this was true.

Some of the areas in which Mr. Harriman suggested Soviet policies might cause further trouble were Macedonia, Turkey, and especially China. If Chiang78 does not make a deal with the Communists before the Russians occupy Manchuria and North China, they are certainly going to establish a Soviet-dominated Communist regime in these areas and then there will be a completely divided China, much more difficult of uniting. The extent to which the Soviet will go in all directions will depend on the extent of our pressure.

Mr. Grew raised the question of our leverage. He said the Soviet Union appeared to need our money and our supplies, and he asked Mr. Harriman to what extent the Soviet Union was in fact dependent [Page 844] on us; in other words, just how much leverage did we possess? Mr. Harriman said the Soviet Union particularly needed our heavy machinery and machine tools, and our “know-how” in many fields, for example chemical industry, coal mining mechanization, power development, and railroad equipment. In the war, we have been supplying all Russian deficits in essential materials.

Mr. Harriman said it was important not to overestimate Soviet strength. The Army is an extraordinarily effective but disorganized mass of human beings. Almost all of the Army’s transport equipment and much of its food is supplied by us. The country is still fantastically backward. There is no road system, railroad mileage is very inadequate, and ninety percent of the people of Moscow live in a condition comparable with our worst slum areas. Mr. Harriman said he was therefore not much worried about the Soviet Union’s taking the offensive in the near future. But they will take control of everything they can by bluffing, he added.

Mr. Harriman said one very unfortunate development was the appointment of a Russian as head of the UNRRA Mission to Poland.79 Thus UNRRA supplies would be used against our policies. He emphasized again the importance of taking a firm stand on the Polish issue.

Mr. Harriman said it was also important for the Department to get control of all the activities of agencies dealing with the Soviet Union so that pressure can be put on or taken off, as required.

Mr. Clayton80 raised the question of lend-lease assistance. He said that in the discussions now in progress on supplies for liberated areas it had been indicated that if we give the liberated areas the fats, oils, and sugar they need, shipments of these products to the Soviet Union will have to be stopped. Meat shipments will have to be reduced also. Harriman said this should be done—the liberated areas of western Europe should be supplied first.

Mr. Harriman thought there should not be a fifth lend-lease protocol (the fourth, covering the twelve months ending June 30, 1945, was signed April 17, 1945).81 After the expiration of the fourth protocol, [Page 845] Mr. Harriman said, Russian requests should be dealt with on a supply basis, and we should supply the absolute minimum requirements. He said he was satisfied that up to now the Russians had needed the supplies they had obtained, because of the limitations of available shipping. When the war in Europe ends, however, the Soviet Union should have ample production to meet essential needs in many fields, and our shipments should be reduced accordingly. We should continue to supply legitimate requirements, especially for use in the Far East.

With regard to an agreement under section 3(c) of the Lend-Lease Act, Mr. Harriman said the Russians had the impression we are interested in such an agreement merely to stabilize our own position. Mr. Clayton asked if Mr. Harriman did not think it would be better to avoid opening 3(c) negotiations and to handle the problem in connection with discussions regarding post-war credits.

Mr. Harriman said this procedure conformed to the Soviet view—the only disadvantage would appear to be that a post-war credit agreement might not be worked out in time to cover certain necessary war supplies, and that it would be difficult to honor certain legitimate Soviet requests without a 3(c) agreement.

Mr. Clayton mentioned that post-war credit arrangements would require legislation—for example, repeal of the Johnson Act82 and extension of the lending authority of the Export-Import Bank.83 Mr. Acheson84 asked whether there was any reason why any such legislative program could not be deferred until mid-July, in order to avoid complicating the current program (Bretton Woods,85 trade agreements, etc.). Mr. Harriman said it would be quite satisfactory to have negotiations on the question of post-war credits drag along, but that we should begin promptly. He agreed with Mr. Clayton that this was the greatest element in our leverage.

Mr. Harriman also said he hoped that any credits opened would not be for a period of several years (the Russians are asking approval of credits under which they would buy over a several-year period), and he thought that the best method would be to make a one-year arrangement and see how that worked out before expanding it. He also thought we should not renew the offer to negotiate a 3(c) agreement, but explain the disadvantage to them without it. We should then let the Soviet Union take the initiative in this connection.

[Page 846]

Mr. Acheson raised the question of the decentralization of the Army throughout the sixteen Soviet republics.86 Mr. Harriman said he thought that from the standpoint of United States relations with the Soviet Union decentralization of the U.S.S.R., though “phony”, was useful to us. It would enable us to have sixteen observation posts in the Soviet Union and it would also increase Soviet knowledge and understanding of the United States if there were sixteen missions in the United States from the various Soviet republics. Mr. Harriman said the Kremlin pays considerable attention to the opinions of Party leaders in the local areas.

Mr. Phillips87 asked about Soviet-British relations. Mr. Harriman said that in October 1944 Churchill went to Moscow and obtained Soviet agreement to a free hand for Great Britain in Greece in return for his recognition of the importance of Rumania as a supply line for the Red Army.88 Churchill had assumed, however, that the Allies would be treated at least as well in Rumania as the Russians were in Italy, whereas the Russians had later shown that they had no such intention. Regarding Yugoslavia it had been agreed that Great Britain and the Soviet Union had completely equal interests, but Tito89 was now one hundred percent Stalin’s man. On Poland Mr. Harriman said the British felt even more strongly than the United States about the need for insisting on the Yalta Agreements. He said that without our support in Europe, however, the British would be forced to work for spheres of influence.

Mr. Harriman concluded by reemphasizing that if this Government is resourceful and firm, it will be possible to check the Soviet Union to a degree.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  1. This meeting was presided over by the Under Secretary of State, Joseph C. Grew, in the absence of the Secretary of State.
  2. Presumably reference here is to telegram 1983, April 20, 1945, from Paris, not printed.
  3. Concerning the visit of General Charles de Gaulle, Head of the French Provisional Government, to Moscow on the occasion of the signature of the French-Soviet Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance on December 10, 1944, see telegram 4770, December 11, 1944, from Moscow, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, p. 937.
  4. For documentation regarding the efforts of the United States to maintain good relations with France, see vol. iv, pp. 661 ff. James Clement Dunn, Assistant Secretary of State for European, Far Eastern, Near Eastern, and African Affairs, was a member of the Secretary’s Staff Committee.
  5. For documentation on this subject, see vol. vi , section on French Indochina.
  6. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, President of the National Government of the Republic of China.
  7. In March 1945, Mikhail Alekseyevich Menshikov, Deputy Director General, Headquarters Bureau of Areas, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, was chosen to head a temporary UNRRA delegation which was to negotiate a relief and rehabilitation agreement with the Polish Provisional Government at Warsaw. For an expression of the Department’s position with regard to the Menshikov appointment, see the memorandum of conversation by the Acting Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs, March 24, 1945, vol. ii, p. 973.
  8. William L. Clayton, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.
  9. The Fourth (Ottawa) Protocol, covering the period from July 1, 1944, to June 30, 1945, was signed on April 17, 1945, by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Soviet Union. The text is in Department of State, Soviet Supply Protocols (Washington, Government Printing Office), pp. 89–156. The announcement of the signature made in Ottawa on April 20, 1945, is printed in Department of State Bulletin, April 22, 1945, p. 723. For documentation on the conclusion of wartime assistance from the United States for the Soviet Union, see post, pp. 937 ff.
  10. Approved April 13, 1934; 48 Stat. 574.
  11. An act further increasing the lending authority of the Export-Import Bank, and for other purposes, was approved on July 31, 1945; 59 Stat. 526.
  12. Dean Acheson, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations and International Conferences.
  13. The United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, July 1–22, 1944. For documentation regarding this Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 106 ff.
  14. By laws of February 1, 1944, amending the constitution of December 5, 1936, relating to the reorganization of the People’s Commissariats for Foreign Affairs and Defense, certain plenipotentiary powers were granted to each of the 16 constituent republics of the Soviet Union in these fields. For documentation regarding these laws, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 809813.
  15. William Phillips, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State.
  16. Documentation concerning the meetings of Prime Minister Churchill and Premier Stalin in Moscow between October 9 and 18, 1944, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 10021024, passim.
  17. Marshal Josip Broz Tito, Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense in the Provisional Government of Yugoslavia.