740.5/12–2354: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Bohlen) to the Department of State 1


969. Since Soviet Government has committed itself to take certain actions, i.e., under Moscow declaration of December 12 and notes to British and French concerning abrogation treaties when Paris Agreements are ratified,2 there is considerable speculation as to exactly when Soviet Government for purpose of undertaking these actions would consider that agreements had, in effect, been ratified. At press conference [Page 1518] on December 20, following delivery of note to British Ambassador here, chief of press section Foreign Office received several inquiries on this point. His answer while not entirely clear seemed to indicate that by “act of ratification” used in British and French notes, Soviet Government had in mind final completion of process of ratification in either country and that therefore it did not choose to consider approval of British Parliament as representing such act which still presumably requires some formal action by Queen. Stories to this effect I am informed by correspondents were passed without objection by censor.

If this version is correct it would mean that Soviet Government is not committed to take any of the provisional actions which it has threatened in immediate future as result of action French Assembly but at some later date when in either France or England act of ratification is signed or otherwise executed by head of state, which according to information available here in case of France might not be until middle of February. This would give Soviet Government an additional six weeks in which to continue its campaign of threat and intimidation without being called upon to put into effect the threatened countermeasures.

Since campaigns of the type which Soviet Government has been carrying on since its November 13 note3 are difficult to maintain on a steady basis over a protracted period, assuming favorable vote in French Assembly in next few days, manner in which this campaign is handled by Soviet Government during period before final act of ratification will be important evidence as to nature and magnitude of Soviet countermeasures. Iliychev reply of course on this point is not conclusive and there is nothing to prevent Soviet Government, if it so desires, from regarding adoption by French Assembly as point of departure for at least interim implementation of some of the measures forecast by Moscow declaration; but at least this interpretation of what constitutes “ratification” gives Soviet Government additional period of time to determine exact courses of action to be followed.

  1. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. Documentation concerning these Soviet notes threatening to abrogate the Franco-Russian and Anglo-Russian treaties of 1944 and 1942, respectively, is presented in volume viii.
  3. Regarding this note, see footnote 3, p. 1510.