701.6111/12–2247: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union


22. Dept agrees analysis in Embtel 3418 Dec 22 [1947] of Sov motivation in increasing operational difficulties foreign missions.1 [Page 793] Before yielding to pressure, however, and enabling Soviets achieve their objective of reducing staff to minimum we wish examine throughly possibilities of continuing maintain as large staff in Moscow as housing permits.2 This is matter of prime importance because of increasing need for reliable intelligence concerning conditions within Sov Union as well as pressing need at many posts for officers with Moscow experience. Emb proposal to streamline and coordinate all official operations in Moscow has Dept’s enthusiastic approval but we should like consider possibility taking up resulting slack by assignment additional productive personnel.

To permit study possibilities staff reduction Dept desires soonest names personnel you consider could be withdrawn and further functions you feel could be suppressed or performed in Washington. Would also like receive your views on measures you consider would be necessary to permit continue operation Emb at present size. This report should include such price data as will permit determination cost of living under post-revaluation economy and should be based on assumption that under new customs procedure3 imports of foodstuffs and other commodities from US must be sharply curtailed. In view continuing arrests and resignations Sov personnel Dept would also like your recommendations as to what Sov personnel if any could usefully be replaced by American clerks. Clerks could be given Russian language training here before departure. Considerable time would of course be required to recruit and train such personnel.

In any further conversations you may have with Molotov4 re treatment Emb, recent developments such as currency revaluation, new dip rate and arrests Emb personnel might usefully be introduced. Dept suggests that if Molotov remains adamant you inform him that in face of Sov refusal treat Emb in manner which universally recognized dip usage sanctions, you feel obliged recommend to your Govt that number Sov officials in US be reduced to size our establishment in Sov Union. Dept prepared implement such recommendation. If you [Page 794] consider it advisable you could also point out that you will probably be obliged reduce size present staff without however indicating any exact figure. If it subsequently proves necessary reduce Emb staff Moscow we would then have second opportunity approach SovGov seeking review of position before taking new counter measures.

Suggestion in Embtel 3418 Dec 22 that staffs satellite missions Washington be curtailed is impractical since on any basis these missions smaller than US missions in satellites. Typical over-all figures, including dependents, are Bulgaria 9 as against 63 US personnel in Sofia, Czecho 111 against 133, Hungary 27 against 110, Poland 41 against 72, Rumania 50 against 104. Should satellite missions expand rapidly following curtailment Sov staff here to point where they exceeded size US missions in respective countries consideration would be given to restrictive measures.

  1. Not printed. The Chargé in the Soviet Union, Elbridge Durbrow, listed in this telegram some recent operational difficulties being encountered by the Embassy. He deduced that the “Soviet Government has apparently taken basic decision to make life as unbearable and expensive as possible for foreign missions and correspondents in order [to] force as many as possible to fold … and thus limit to bare minimum number of eyes and ears which can report on actual conditions here.” (124.61/12–2247)
  2. The inadequacies of housing conditions for the Embassy in Moscow were old troubles which were referred to in Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iv, p. 642. On still earlier attempts to secure housing improvements, see ibid., 1946, vol. vi, footnote 94, p. 753, and p. 810; and ibid., 1945, vol. v, p. 825.
  3. The text of the Regulations for the Entry of Freight and Baggage of Members of the Foreign Diplomatic Corps, Foreign Consuls, Members of Foreign Governments, and Members of Delegations at Diplomatic Conferences Held in the U.S.S.R., dated July 12, 1947, had been transmitted to the Department of State in the Embassy’s despatch No. 1597 from Moscow on September 3; not printed. (124.612) Under these regulations the amount of duties were “entered by the Customs organization into special record books issued to diplomatic missions by the Chief Customs Administration.” The free import quota allotted to the American Embassy for this year (and also for 1948) was 900,000 rubles ($112,500).

    For some earlier documentation on customs troubles see, for example, Foreign Relations, The Soviet Union, 1933–1939, pp. 440457, 624669, 837869; and ibid., 1940, vol. iii, Index, p. 1022. Not all of the documentation in the files of the Department of State on these difficulties is included.

  4. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.