430 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs (in Washington)

Cablegram E2 [1] LONDON, 20 March 1942

MOST SECRET

RUSSIA

My telegram to Prime Minister No. 46A. of 17th March, repeated to you as E. 1. [2]

I had a long talk last night with Eden [3] and again stressed our interest in the question of Russia's territorial demands and need for realistic outlook. Following is broadly line I took:-

Continuance of Soviet in war vital.

No danger of Soviet coming to terms with Germans if they are successful in resisting Spring offensive and appear likely to defeat Germans.

Soviet realise fight to finish with Germany necessary and will press on so long as victory possible.

Danger is if Soviet Government hard pressed and dissatisfied with Allies' action in relieving pressure feel that chance of finally defeating Germany better if they obtain breathing space to reorganise and prepare. In such circumstances they will be more likely to accept if reasonable terms offered by Germany, if to the dissatisfaction which they will almost certainly feel with Allies' actions to relieve pressure on them there is added suspicion engendered by refusal to recognise territorial claims.

We could not afford to run this risk.

The two main arguments advanced against recognition are:-

(a) Clauses 2 and 3 of Atlantic Charter. [4]

(b) Difficulties it would create with other countries e.g. Poland and Czechoslovakia.

With regard to (a) I pointed out as to the Baltic States Soviet would contend that no territorial change contrary to Article 2 or restoration such as Article 3 contemplated was involved, as all three Baltic States by majorities of over 90% had elected for inclusion in the Soviet Union.

I stressed that the Soviet contention could only be challenged by claiming the plebiscites were faked or subject to force majeure, and drew the picture of what our reactions would be if we were challenged in such a way.

As to Bessarabia no one was going to be very concerned.

With regard to (b) I emphasised that a firm line would have to be taken with Poles and Czechoslovaks.

Eden accepted the views I put forward and realises that the Soviet claims must be met. This view the Prime Minister [5] has come round to and I gather the War Cabinet is now in line, with one or possibly two exceptions.

The problem is to get the United States to agree or at all events to acquiesce in our acting without them. Your presence in Washington affords an opportunity of helping in this direction.

I understand Halifax [6] is sound on this question and you will no doubt get in touch with him in regard to it.

BRUCE

1 Repeated to the Prime Minister (John Curtin) as no. 49A.

2 Repeated to Evatt on 20 March. On file AA:M100, March 1942.

Bruce advised that he was stressing to U.K. ministers the view that the U.S.S.R.'s territorial claims over the Baltic States must be dealt with in a realisitic spirit and the U.S.S.R. viewpoint met.

3 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

4 See Document 390, note 3.

5 Winston Churchill.

6 U.K. Ambassador to the United States.

[AA:M100, MARCH 1942]