1 January 1918
Protokoly, p. 169

    Having heard the report of the peace delegation, and entirely approving its action, the joint assembly of the Central Executive (committee of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies, of the Petrograd Soviet, and of the Demobilization Conference representing the entire army, declares:

    The first statement made by the representatives of the Quadruple Alliance at Brest recognized in principle the conclusion of peace without annexations and indemnities. This recognition created a basis for further negotiations regarding a universal democratic peace.

    However, even in this statement the representatives of the German Government refused to recognize the right to self-determination of the oppressed nationalities and the colonies which had been seized before the outbreak of war in ~9~4. This limitation, which was immediately noted by the Russian delegation, alone showed that the ruling classes of Germany, under the pressure of the popular movement, were forced to make concessions to the idea of a democratic peace. They are at the same time trying~to distort this idea along the lines of the old annexationist policy. I repeat, the statement of the Austro-German delegation setting forth the practical conditions of peace in the East still further distorts the idea of a just democratic peace.

    The meaning of this statement is that the Austro-German Governments refuse to give immediately a plain undertaking to withdraw their troops from the occupied provinces of Poland, Lithuania, Courland, and parts of Livonia and Estonia.

    In point of fact the free expression of the will of the population of Poland, Lithuania, Courland, and all the other occupied provinces is impossible whilst foreign armies remain in them, and before the return of the evacuated portion of the original population. The (German) delegation's contention that the will of the peoples in these provinces has already been expressed is manifestly unfounded. Under a state of siege, under the yoke of military censorship, the peoples of the occupied provinces have not yet been able to express their will. The documents to which the German Government might refer can, in the most favourable case, only bear witness to the expression of the will of particular privileged groups, but not of the masses of the people of these territories.

    We declare:

    The Russian revolution remains true to its international policy. We stand for the effective self-determination of Poland, Lithuania, Courland. We shall never recognize as just the imposition of an alien will on any people.

    The October revolution of the workers has done its duty towards the peoples of the whole world. The workers' and peasants' Government has published the secret treaties. It is ready to evacuate immediately all the territories occupied by the Russian armies during this war. It grants all the peoples that inhabit Russia without exception the right of complete self-determination up to separation, without any military pressure on its part. But it requires the same of the other side also.

    We appeal, as to our kindred, to the French, the Italian, the Serbian workmen and say to them: The Governments of your countries have not even advanced that one step towards peace which the Governments of the Central Powers have been obliged to take. The Governments of your countries have up to now not even announced their war aims. Your Governments are prolonging the war by fair means and foul. Your Governments are not advancing a single step towards the peace programme of the Russian revolution. Your Governments do not want to renounce the treaties which they made, unknown to the people, with the former Tsar Nicholas II. Get your countries to join immediately in the peace negotiations on the basis of the declarations made at Brest by the Russian delegation.

    We address ourselves to the peoples of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Under your pressure your Governments have been forced in words to appropriate our motto: 'No annexations or indemnities', but in fact they are trying to carry on the old policy of annexations. Remember: the conclusion of a speedy and really democratic peace is now more than ever in your hands. To you look the peoples of the whole of Europe, tortured and bled white by this war. You will not allow the German and Austrian imperialists to carry on war against revolutionary Russia so that they can enslave Poland, Lithuania, Courland, and Armenia.

    The workers' revolution calls upon the working classes of all countries to revolt.

    The joint assembly insists that further peace negotiations be conducted in a neutral State and instructs the Council of People's Commissars to take all measures for putting this into effect.

Documents on Soviet Foreign Policy

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