123. Instruction From the Department of State to the Consulate General at Accra1



  • Department’s views on prospect of USSR establishing diplomatic relations with the Gold Coast

Reference is made to CA–6087 of February 10,2 and your despatches No. 1493 and 1504 of January 23, 1956. The Department has read with particular interest despatch 150 in which you indicate that through the efforts of Minister of State Kojo Botsio it seems [Page 363] probable that the Soviet Union will be invited to the ceremonies celebrating the independence of the Gold Coast, which are expected to take place during the spring of 1957.

The recent and current diplomatic efforts of the Soviet Union to interest itself much more directly in the continent of Africa have given rise to concern on the part of the United States Government. These efforts have been illustrated by Soviet proposals to establish diplomatic relations with certain countries and by proffers of economic assistance. The two most recent instances of this have been the exchange of Ambassadors with Libya,5 with the offer of economic aid to that country, and the proposal to establish diplomatic relations with, and give economic aid to Liberia. In the case of Liberia, you have been furnished copies of the exchange of selected correspondence, including a copy of the Department’s secret telegram No. 1066 transmitting a message from President Eisenhower to President Tubman. That telegram and earlier communications from the Department to Monrovia made clear the U.S. Government’s view that the establishment of diplomatic relations between African states and the Soviet Union constitutes a Soviet device for communist penetration of the continent of Africa. Once a Soviet mission is established in an African state it becomes only a matter of time before Russian blandishments and enticements of economic aid and technical assistance are likely to be accepted.

Your despatch does not indicate that there is at this time any concerted effort in Gold Coast Government circles either to invite the USSR to send representatives to the independence ceremonies or to exchange diplomatic representatives with Russia following the date of independence. It is assumed that Botsio is acting alone in this matter. Nevertheless, the importance of his official position suggests that he might succeed in laying the framework for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Gold Coast and the USSR. The Department views the realization of any such possibility with concern.7 For your information, the British Embassy in Washington has already asked the Colonial Office to ascertain with what countries the Gold Coast plans to exchange diplomatic representatives following independence. The Embassy informed the Department on February 9 that it will now seek the Colonial Office’s [Page 364] views regarding any Gold Coast plans to invite the USSR to send a delegation to the independence ceremonies.

The Department plans on continuing discussions of this matter informally with the British Embassy and will inform you of further developments. We doubt if you should raise this question with Prime Minister Nkrumah, but in your conversations with Ensor8 and other officials in whom you have confidence you may wish, if you have not already done so, to express some of the following thoughts:

Apart from the USSR role in the Czech-Egyptian arms deal, there appears to be in full swing a real Soviet diplomatic offensive in Africa, as illustrated by the following events:
The exchange of diplomatic representatives with Libya, the arrival already at Tripoli of a Russian Ambassador and a staff of 17, and the subsequent offer of economic aid and technical assistance to that country.
The current tour of the Congo now being made for the first time by a Russian Ambassador to Belgium.9
The strenuous efforts made last month by the Soviet Delegation at President Tubman’s inaugural to induce the Liberian Government to exchange Ambassadors and accept economic aid.
Future steps in this offensive could conceivably include:
The possibility that Russia momentarily will fill her long empty seat at Tangier and participate in that city’s Committee of Control,10 and, in any case, will expect to have diplomatic representation in Morocco when that country becomes independent.
The likelihood that Moscow may soon exchange Ambassadors with the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and also offer that country economic aid.
The continued pressure on the Tubman Government to give legislative approval to the exchange of Ambassadors between Monrovia and Moscow.
The probability that Moscow will indicate at the earliest convenient moment the USSR’s desire to exchange Ambassadors with an independent Gold Coast.
In the light of Soviet policy since the end of World War II, it can be safely assumed that Russia’s primary objective in establishing diplomatic and consular offices in Africa is to undermine the fledgling political institutions of countries just emerged from colonial status to independence. The principal Soviet tool used to bring about [Page 365] the communist penetration of these countries and surrounding areas would be the offers of economic aid and technical assistance, with significant political strings attached. Another, most effective tool would be the organization and direction of cadres of Africans, already trained in Communist schools abroad, to proselytize and win over to communism the tribal peoples of the West African hinterland. The USSR has already earned world-wide notoriety in recent years by the manner in which it has subverted the use of diplomatic missions to serve as centers for propaganda and espionage activity. The classic illustrations, of course, are the activities of the Russian Embassies at Ottawa and Canberra. In Liberia and the Gold Coast, both of which are less sophisticated countries than Australia and Canada, such improper use of diplomatic missions might have disastrous political consequences.

The Department will communicate with you further on this matter. Any important developments coming to your attention should be reported by cable in view of the two-week delay involved in transmitting classified reports by pouch.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 645K.61/2–2056. Secret. Repeated to Moscow, Monrovia, London, Paris, and Lagos.
  2. CA–6087 indicated that the Department informed the British and the French of U.S. views regarding the possible establishment of diplomatic relations between Liberia and the Soviet Union. Both nations, particularly the French, were reported to be upset by the prospect of Soviet economic and political penetration of West Africa. (Ibid., 661.76/2–1056)
  3. Despatch 149 noted the great interest of diplomatic and official circles in Accra in determining the degree of contact, if any, between the Gold Coast and Soviet delegations attending the inauguration of President Tubman of Liberia. It concluded that there probably had been no official meetings though private talks among the delegates had likely occurred. (Ibid., 645K.61/1–2356)
  4. Despatch 150 reported the comment of the British Acting Secretary for Gold Coast External Affairs, Michael de N. Ensor, that the Soviets would eventually be invited to the independence ceremonies. (Ibid.) Despatch 161 from Accra, February 10, reported, on the basis of a conversation with the Governor’s Secretary, P.H. Canham, that the Soviet Union and both Communist and Nationalist China were on the list of provisional invitees. (Ibid., 745K.00/2–1056)
  5. Nicolai Ivanovich Generalov assumed his post on January 11.
  6. Document 139.
  7. An article appearing in the London Times of February 2 (page 8) quotes A.P. Volkov (Chief of the Soviet Delegation to President Tubman’s inaugural) as saying that, following independence, the exchange of diplomatic representatives between the USSR and the Gold Coast “… is not excluded, provided there is good will on the part of both sides.” [Footnote and ellipsis in the source text.]
  8. Despatch 180 from Accra, March 12, summarized Consul General Lamm’s conversation with Ensor. The latter stressed Botsio’s key role in pushing for an invitation to the Soviet Union and suggested the likelihood of the Gold Coast upon independence following a neutralist foreign policy. (Department of State, Central Files, 645K.61/3–1256)
  9. Viktor Ivanovich Avilov.
  10. The Soviet Union did not in fact fill the seat.