J. V. Stalin

The Peace Negotiations with the Ukraine

Izvestia Interview

May 9, 1918

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

Interviewed by our correspondent, Comrade Stalin, Chairman of the Soviet peace delegation, whom the Council of People's Commissars has called from Kursk to Moscow to report, stated the following:


The first objective of the Soviet peace delegation was to establish an armistice at the front, on the Ukrainian border. It was on these lines that our peace delegation began negotiations with the German-Ukrainian command. We have succeeded in securing a truce on the Kursk, Bryansk and Voronezh fronts. The next question is to secure a truce on the Southern Front. Thus, the conclusion of an armistice and the establishment of a demarcation line constitute, in our opinion, the first stage of the peace negotiations.


Our next objective—the opening of the peace negotiations themselves—was complicated by the fact that we had to wait a long time for the arrival of the delegation from the Central Rada. When it did at last arrive in Vorozhba, news was received of the coup d'etat and the abolition of the Small and Grand Radas in the Ukraine, which, of course, hampered the establishment of an armistice and the preliminary arrangements for determining the time and place for opening the negotiations.

For the latter purpose, we have sent a special parliamentary to Konotop, the place proposed by the Ukrainian-German command, and where its general headquarters is located. Our delegate has been given wide powers in the matter of arranging the place of negotiations.


It is difficult to say definitely what effect the coup d'etat in the Ukraine will have on the peace negotiations, since we do not know the attitude of the new Ukrainian Government towards the peace negotiations. Nothing was said on this point in Hetman Skoropadsky's manifesto. Before the coup we had a definite peace programme of the Ukrainian Rada. But what the territorial programme of the new Ukrainian Government is, we do not know.

In general, however, the Ukrainian coup has so far had no adverse effect on the peace negotiations. On the contrary, there is reason to believe that the coup does not preclude the possibility of peace being arranged between the Soviet Government and the Ukrainian Government. It should be observed that since the coup the vacillations and delays of the Ukrainians in respect to the preliminary arrangements for the peace negotiations have ceased.


At the end of the interview Comrade Stalin touched on the causes of the coup d'etat in the Ukraine.

In my opinion, the coup was inevitable. The reasons for it lay in the self-contradictory position of the Central Rada: on the one hand, it played with socialism; on the other, it called in foreign troops to fight the Ukrainian workers and peasants. The Central Rada made itself dependent financially and militarily on Germany, and at the same time it handed out a heap of promises to the Ukrainian workers and peasants, with whom it was soon waging determined warfare. By this last step the Ukrainian Rada placed itself in a position in which, at the critical moment of the assault of the bourgeois and landlord elements, it had nobody to rely on.

And, in fact, the Central Rada could not have remained in power long by virtue of the law of the class struggle, since in the process of a revolutionary movement only such elements can firmly establish themselves in power as are supported by one class or another. Only two possible outcomes were therefore conceivable in the Ukraine: either a dictatorship of the workers and peasants, which the Central Rada could not help to bring about owing to its petty-bourgeois nature; or a dictatorship of the bourgeois and landlord elements, to which also the Rada could not consent. It preferred a half-way position, and thereby signed its own death warrant.

Izvestia, No. 90, May 9, 1918