868.00/3–2249

Informal Memorandum by the British Embassy to the Department of State 1

secret

The British Government have recently received reports of Russian troops movements and other military activities in South-East Europe, of which the following are typical: [Page 266]

a)
The arrival of fresh Soviet troops from the Soviet Union at Constanza, which has been “evacuated” by Roumanian troops;
b)
The southward movement of Soviet occupation forces in Roumania, towards Bulgaria;
c)
The introduction of partial mobilisation measures (blackout precautions, etc.) in Roumania;
d)
The arrival of Soviet troops at Szombathely near the Austro-Hungarian frontier;
e)
The massing of guerillas, said to number from 10,000 to 15,000, on the Greco-Bulgarian frontier;
f)
The movement of Soviet men and arms by sea to Albania.

2. The British military authorities are not disposed to consider the reported Soviet movements abnormal. They suggest that formations in Austria and Hungary (and in Germany) are now being reinforced for the purposes of Spring manoeuvres. They do not consider that these reports connote anything in the nature of military action. On the contrary there are indications that such reports are being deliberately disseminated with a psychological motive.

3. The reports tend to focus on Yugoslavia and their primary objective may be to increase the war of nerves against Tito, who is already under heavy economic pressure from the Soviet bloc. Moreover, the increase of incidents with Hungary and Albania (with consequent vituperative diplomatic exchanges) and the publicity given to the project for an autonomous Macedonia under the aegis of Dimitrov2 confirm the Foreign Office’s view that the Soviet Government intend to turn more heat upon Yugoslavia. On the other hand the British Ambassador at Belgrade3 has seen no sign of serious apprehension at high levels in that city, and the Foreign Office do not believe that Soviet or satellite military action against Yugoslavia is likely.

4. The Greek Government, are naturally apprensive about these developments and especially about the Communist threat of, an independent Macedonian State. They appear to fear an operation to establish direct Russian contacts with Albania as part of a Kremlin-inspired movement to encircle Yugoslavia. They have suggested that the British Government should take some action to forestall any declaration by the Macedonian Communists at rebel headquarters. The Foreign Office do not think that representations at Sofia (as in December 1947) would do any good but they are considering the advisability of making some such statement as that made by Mr. Lovett [Page 267]on December 30th, 1947, on the occasion of the establishment of the Markos Junta.4

  1. The Department of State’s informal reply to this communication (p. 279) indicates that British Embassy Counselor Allen delivered it to the Department on March 17.
  2. Georgi Dimitrov, Bulgarian Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Bulgarian Workers’ (Communist) Party.
  3. Sir Charles Peake.
  4. For the text of Acting Secretary of State Lovett’s statement under reference, see Department of State Bulletin, January 11, 1948, p. 59.