761.67/1–847: Telegram

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

top secret

43. Deptinfotel 2917 [2197], December 31.1 We are less inclined than Erkin2 to feel that recent events in Azerbaijan and possibly Greece hold forth hope that USSR might show reasonable attitude toward Turkey.

We doubt that Soviet dislodgement from Azerbaijan indicates likelihood that Kremlin may abandon its search for strategic lodgement in Turkey.

We have no doubt that Kremlin will resume attempts to encroach on Iranian sovereignty and that it will continue attempts to encroach on Turkish sovereignty.

Soviet policy with respect to Turkey is motivated not only, as Erkin suggested, by considerations of security, but also by urge to gain independent access to Mediterranean and Arab world and by determination to sever British Empire jugular at Suez. To the Kremlin, Turkey represents both a corridor for attack on USSR and an obstacle to achievement of Soviet objectives. USSR will therefore not feel that it has either achieved security for its southwestern frontiers or made a solid advance on its course of Near Eastern aggression until it dominates Turkey.

In light of foregoing it is illusory to talk of a reasonable Soviet attitude or legitimate Soviet requests. Policy of subjugating (or in Soviet jargon “liberating”) Turkey is grounded in Czarist history [Page 3] and reinforced by Communist conviction. Any manifestations of Soviet reasonable consideration for Turkish rights will be tactical maneuvers for immediate partial gains. Any inaction or apparent indifference will be a matter of timing, waiting for most favorable moment to move. If Soviet encroachment on Turkey seems to develop with devious deliberation it must be remembered that Soviet policy possesses certain glacial attributes, not least of which is persistence.

Confronted by this chill menace Turkey has little hope of independent survival unless it is assured of solid long term American and British support. It can seek that support through a regional agreement involving USA, UK, Turkey and USSR, as suggested by Erkin, or within framework of UN.

Without examining likelihood of USA being willing to commit itself to such a regional agreement, it is perhaps sufficient to say that it is probable USSR would participate in Turkish agreement with what it regards as its inevitable and greatest enemies—US and UK—only as a strategy, only on basis of providing USSR with an advantage in inevitable forthcoming conflict. And if USA and UK refused to grant that advantage, agreement would probably not be reached. It must be remembered that with respect to Turkey (as was not case in Azerbaijan showdown) USSR has initiative; that if it calculates no advantage will accrue from multilateral negotiations on straits or other Turkish problem it can refuse to participate and bide its time.

We are therefore inclined to conclude that Turkey can rely only—as must all of us menaced by Kremlin’s predatory policy—on wider assurance of indivisible security of non-Soviet world guaranteed by UN. And UN can, of course, have courage and authority for this purpose only so long as USA retains its moral leadership—and its strength.

Department repeat to Ankara as Moscow’s 2, London as 4.

  1. This telegram gave a summary of telegram 1293, December 30, 1946, from Ankara, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vii, p. 898.
  2. Feridun Cemal Erkin, Secretary General of the Turkish Foreign Office.