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269 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 164 LONDON, 21 September 1938

View held here is that attitude is still the same. Some days after
communication reported to you in my telegram No. 141 [1] French
Minister for Foreign Affairs [2] saw M. Litvinov [3] himself at
Geneva. On 14th September he told British Ambassador at Paris [4]
that 'a new factor in situation was M. Litvinov's attitude at
Geneva on 11th September when M. Litvinov had indicated that
Soviet Government would in the event of German aggression on
Czechoslovakia consult Council of League and not act directly in
defence of that State.'
(2) Views of British Ambassador Moscow [5] regarding Russian
attitude are as follows: On 14th September he said that he
inclined daily more to the view that in present crisis rulers of
U.S.S.R. might welcome outbreak of a conflict between Germany on
one hand and Great Britain, France on the other for reason that in
their view such a conflict would be to free U.S.S.R. from menace
of an over-strong Germany. He by no means excluded possibility
that Soviet Government would take part on side of Great Britain
and France but he was inclined to believe that they would only
take part in so far as this could be done without risk of putting
undue strain on internal structure of Russia. For this reason and
also for purely practical reasons he considered it improbable that
Soviet Government in the event of their intervening on behalf of
Czechoslovakia would however at the outset at any rate do more
than send portion of their air force to assistance of Czechs and
possibly operation of their submarines against German shipping in
Baltic. As regards their land forces he conjectured that they
would at most concentrate troops on their western frontier. Such
limited action would be unlikely to disturb internal equilibrium
of the country.

Ambassador reports Soviet press further information Mr
Chamberlain's visit to Hitler has been extremely unfavourable but
it has given no indication what Soviet attitude would be in the
event of German attack on Czechoslovakia 'an aspect which it
studiously avoids'.


1 Document 250.

2 Georges Bonnet.

3 U.S.S.R. People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

4 Sir Eric Phipps.

5 Viscount Chilston.

[AA : A981, CZECHOSLOVAKIA 18, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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