661.00/1–2550: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State 1


267. Issue January 11 Department’s Current Foreign Relations2 mentions British Government as believing Soviets “easing tension western Europe” and shifting attention Far East and Southeast Asia (PP 1 and 5), attitude which we feel can easily be carried too far.3 Similarly, French Embassy counselor now leaving Moscow presumably reflected certain current French views when he stated that recent Far East developments have confirmed his long standing conviction that Soviets primarily interested in Orient, whereas situation non-Communist Europe may now be regarded as “solid”.

In contrast such views, Embassy has endeavored emphasize, as in Embtel 3062 December 9,4 that such evidence as is available points to Kremlin anticipation of favorable developments Western Europe next few years and lessening its activity there unlikely more than relative. Embassy expects more dramatic Communist moves in Far East than in Europe during 1950, but considers it erroneous to assume that Soviets “attention” to Far East implies material Soviet neglect of Western Europe.

  1. This telegram was relayed to London, Paris, and Frankfort at 4:50 p. m. on January 25.
  2. This was a classified weekly publication designed for background information.
  3. In telegram 69 from London on January 5, not printed, the Embassy had reported that the head of the Northern Department of the British Foreign Office, Geoffrey Wedgwood Harrison, thought that the “Soviets are not simply resting on oars in West because of optimistic belief in early [economic] crisis but because they have little alternative after major set-backs of 1949, viz., Titoism, North Atlantic Treaty, end of airlift and formation Federal Government Germany.” He also had the opinion that “Communist gains in China came with very little Soviet effort, although USSR was quick to exploit them, especially propagandawise.” (661.00/1–550) The Embassy subsequently reported in telegram 486 from London on January 27, not printed, that the Foreign Office Policy Commission had met and “has accepted Harrison’s preliminary views” and that the Foreign Office “thinks major Soviet set-backs in Western Europe in 1949 compelled them to reduce pressure there. This is looked upon as tactical stalling and Soviets regarded likely to push again whenever opportunity offers.” (661.00/1–2750)
  4. Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, p. 681.