Lansing to Francis on US government position of non-interference
intention to aid Russian military efforts against Germany

File No. 861.00/1729

Washington, May 8, 1918


    The Department has received your 127 and 128, also telegrams from Vologda, Vladivostok and Moscow reporting refusal to receive messages for code. In reply, you are informed that American representative have not assisted in any movements affecting the internal situation of Russia, as allegedly in the statements sent you. The friendly purpose of the United States towards Russia was made clear in the President's address to Congress January 8 and in his message to the Russian people through the Soviet. It will not be modified by charges of the character reported nor by any withdrawal of the diplomatic courtesies and privileges recognized universally among nations.

    This Government has received appeals for support from several groups who claim a purpose to establish a new government in Siberia; it has answered none of these appeals. As you were informed by the Department's telegram of May 1 [2] when Colonel Semenov was reported requesting assistance of Russian railway service corps, a body of American engineers organized to assist the railway administration of Russia, instructions were issued that the work of these engineers should not be diverted to support any movement partaking of civil war nor to facilitate the military operations of Semenov, and if this could be avoided only by their withdrawal then they were to be withdrawn. At the same time you were notified that Colonel Emerson and some of his assistants were proceeding to Vologda to confer with you as to how these engineers could be used in helping the Russian people in European Russia and assisting in strengthening their resistance to the aggressions of the Central powers. Colonel Emerson and the three assistants left Harbin for Vologda May 3.

    The purpose of the United States is clear and disguised by no measures of secret diplomacy. The United States is at war with the Central powers for the purpose of overthrowing German militarism, thus making it possible for the peoples of the world to live in peace free from the menace of autocratic domination.

    The Government of the United States thoroughly understands the desire for repose of the Russian people exhausted after heroic sacrifices of war, and shares their hopes for a lasting peace based on the principles of liberty and justice. The United States now sees Russia overrun by German and Austrian troops. Where Russians in peaceable centers will not conform at once to the decrees of German commanders, Soviet reports show they are brutally set aside or shot, and the military machine of Germany rolls on over the prostrate body of the Russian people. In spite of the fact that the people of many regions of Russia already suffer hunger and the prospect of a general famine in northern Russia, the Central powers insist on the letter of their bond and are removing from the Ukraine food supplies which the rest of Russia requires and must have, if it is to live. The Department does not understand how such conditions can continue without arousing the Russian people to the dangers which threaten the liberties won by their revolution. Nevertheless, the Department desires you to reflect the friendly purpose of United States towards Russia, a purpose which will remain unaltered so long as Russia does not willingly accept the autocratic domination of the Central powers.


Documents on US Foreign Policy in Russia

[Subject] [Author] [Date]