Reading to Lansing on proposed Bolshevik involvement in the war and moving allied military into Russia
File No. 861.00/1629
WASHINGTON, April 16, 1918
[Received April 19]
The British representative at Moscow recently telegraphed to the British Government that while the tension of the situation increased with every day's delay the position was not yet hopeless, and that if a detailed scheme for military assistance to Russia could be put forward at once, an agreement might still be reached.
In reply to this telegram Mr. Balfour has informed Mr. Lockhart that there must be an agreement on general principles before a detailed scheme can be put forth. The sort of arrangement which His Majesty's Government would like to see adopted was stated in outline as follows:
Every effort should be made by the Bolshevist authorities to raise a genuine army, and in the meantime they should take steps to organize guerilla warfare in those districts of Russia occupied by German forces; they should also make every effort to get rid of German influence in the districts which are out of the reach of the German Army.
Strong measures should be taken to prevent supplies reaching Germany and Austria. This applies equally to foodstuffs from the south of Russia, vessels from the Baltic Fleet, or war material form Vladivostok, Petrograd or Archangel.
Everything should be done to stiffen resistance to German and Turkish invasion in Transcaucasia, and to keep the control of the Black Sea in Russian hands.
The Bolshevik authorities should ask for naval and military assistance from the Allies at Murmansk if the railroad is threatened from Finland, and in any event such assistance should be asked for through Vladivostok, where it is possible to give it in the greatest strength and with the most effect.
From the political point of view, the main conditions which occur to His Majesty's Government in connection with Allied assistance to Russia are that the Allies should undertake to evacuate at the end of the war all Russian territory occupied by them, and also that they should undertake, while in Russia, to take no part whatever in any of the economic or political disputes now existing in Russia. The liberation of the country from the enemy and the restoration of Russian independence would be the only object of intervention.
It would no doubt be necessary to make minor arrangements in detail for the help to be given to the Bolshevist armed forces, but this aspect of the question can hardly be discussed until the main lines of the scheme have been agreed upon.
The question of sending Allied forces through Vladivostok is now the chief point of difficulty, but the objections to this are rather sentimental than real. Russia needs military assistance and she can not herself provide the necessary military force. She is afraid that the force used would eventually be employed in such a manner as to endanger her independence and integrity. A guarantee by the Allied powers would secure her against this risk, and the security of the guarantee would not be diminished by the fact that Japan must, for the nature of the case, supply the main part of the Allied force to be employed.
While it is possible that Japan may be reluctant to accept the scheme suggested, there is little use in endeavouring to bring it into force unless Trotsky agrees to do his share towards its adoption. Should he refuse to take action, it is possible that Japan may find herself obliged in self-defence to intervene in Siberia, and such intervention would have few of the advantages and all of the drawbacks of the scheme suggested by the British Government.
Instructions in the sense of the preceding paragraphs are now in the hands of the British representative at Moscow, and the British Ambassador is instructed to express the earnest hope of the British Government that similar instructions may be sent by the United States authorities to Colonel Robins.
Documents on US Foreign Policy in Russia
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