860h.01/4–845: Telegram

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

1090. Tito’s present visit to Moscow, as stated in my 1043, April 5, 10 a.m.,41 came as a complete surprise to me and I have no basis on which to form any reliable judgement of its purpose. In considering its possibilities, however, the following factors come to mind.

1. This is to my knowledge Tito’s first visit to Moscow since the occasion last fall when he disappeared so abruptly from his headquarters at Vis42 and his first public visit here in the role of a foreign dignitary. From the care taken to notify the Diplomatic Corps of his arrival and from the pomp of his reception at the airport it is dear that the Soviet Government wishes the visit to serve as a political demonstration. The secrecy with which it was prepared reflects [Page 1216] the Kremlin’s traditional belief in surprise as a diplomatic and political weapon. It is entirely possible that the visit may end with some formal expression of Russian-Yugoslav intimacy and solidarity. It is impossible to say, however, whether the visit was arranged for the specific purpose of staging a demonstration or whether it was merely decided to exploit for this purpose a visit arising out of the real need for direct personal consultation between Soviet leaders and Tito at the present time. I am rather inclined to the latter hypothesis; for the end of the war will raise several urgent questions of Tito’s foreign policy; and I suspect that it is sometimes not much easier for Moscow’s satellites than it is for ourselves to discover from a distance what the Russians are thinking and what their wishes are.

2. The present entry of Soviet forces into Austria raises in an acute form the question of Austrian Carinthia. As the Department is aware the question of the postwar inclusion into Yugoslavia of Austrian territory inhabited by Slovenes has been raised at various times by the Yugoslav Government in exile and Tito has apparently only recently indicated his intention of occupying certain Austrian territory.43 As far as I am aware, this question has not been a matter of discussion between either the British or ourselves on the one hand and the Russians on the other, but in view of Russian entry into Austria and the contemplated participation of Russia in the subsequent tripartite administration,44 it is clear no move along these lines could be taken by Tito without affecting directly Russian interests. It is entirely probable that Tito has not yet been able to get a firm clearance from Moscow for the occupation of this territory by Yugoslav forces and that the breakup of German resistance in Austria has created the necessity for an immediate clarification of this question.

3. On March 19 pursuant to the Department’s 594, March 14, 11 p.m.,45 I wrote Molotov46 of our desire to maintain the principle that during the period of joint Anglo-American military responsibility in Italy, and thereafter until the peace settlement, no unilateral action should be taken either by Italy or Yugoslavia with respect to Venezia Giulia and that the territory should remain during that period under Allied Military Government. No reply has yet been received and the question is thus still formally pending with the Soviet Government. It is plain that until a decision has been taken in Moscow that Tito’s hands remain bound in this problem as well. Military developments have doubtless heightened Tito’s impatience for a decision on this question.

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4. Recent press manifestations of Soviet sentiment have indicated that in the Soviet view the Stalin–Churchill understandings of last fall with relation to Greece47 and the other Balkan countries are wearing thin. Soviet press has again begun to show ill feeling over British action in Greece and support for the anti-British forces there. There have quite recently been indications of a new and sharper tone against Turkey.

There is reason to suspect that Anglo-American attempts to achieve the application of the Liberated Europe declaration48 to Rumania49 may well have been taken in Moscow as inconsistent with the spirit of the understandings reached with Churchill last fall, and that Moscow may accordingly feel that its own hands are now relatively free. In these circumstances it is not improbable that the Russians should conclude that the time was now ripe and the road open for further action in the direction of a south Slav federation, in which Macedonia as well as Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania might participate. A first step in this direction might be the conclusion of the contemplated alliance between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. The Department is familiar with the background of this matter, which was discussed at the Crimea, and will recall that Molotov, in his letter of March 10 to me,51 favored the conclusion of such a treaty, expressed inability to understand the motives which caused us to oppose it and supported the Secretary’s suggestion that consideration of this question be continued in Moscow. It was evident from this reply that the Soviet Government did not consider this matter closed and was concerned to retain complete freedom with respect to its future course of action. Despite Molotov’s hint, we have not pursued the matter further. This may be considered by the Soviet Government as sufficient justification for them to authorize Tito and the Bulgarians to proceed at this time. In any case, there can be little doubt that this question will be given most careful scrutiny during the present visit, and the measures which come up for discussion may even go beyond the mere conclusion of this bilateral alliance.

5. It is not probable that any announcement would be forthcoming of any understandings which may be reached with regard to points 2, 3, or 4 of this message. Any such understandings will presumably become apparent only in subsequent actions of the Governments concerned.

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6. While the above is speculative, I will endeavor to obtain more concrete information on the objectives and results of the visit.

  1. Not printed; this telegram informed the Department that Marshal Tito and Foreign Minister Subasich arrived in Moscow on April 5 (860h.01/4–545).
  2. See telegram 510, September 23, 1944, from Caserta, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, p. 1410.
  3. For documentation on Yugoslav territorial claims in Austria, see pp. 1313 ff.
  4. For documentation on this subject, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  5. See vol. iv, p. 1115, footnote 69.
  6. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  7. Reference is to decisions reached by Marshal Stalin and Prime Minister Churchill during their meeting in Moscow, October 9–18, 1944. See Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 10021024, passim.
  8. The Declaration on Liberated Europe issued at the tripartite conference at Yalta, February 11, 1945; for text, see section V of the Report of the Crimea Conference, Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 971.
  9. See pp. 464 ff.
  10. See telegram 722, March 12, from Moscow, p. 1309.