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212 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 819 CANBERRA, 22 December 1941



With regard to Dominions Office [M] 447, [M] 448, [M] 469 [3]
Eden's visit to Moscow.

(1) We should like draft proposed Treaties Russia to be sent to us
in advance. Draft declaration set out in 448 seems
unobjectionable. But it takes no special account of altered
position having regard to (a) Entry into war of U.S.A., (b)
Japan's successes as belligerent, (c) Russia's recent successes.

(2) Attitude we are inclinded to recommend is to accede to
Stalin's wishes as far as possible providing he undertakes
commence war against Japan in near future. We imagine United
States attitude would be much the same, i.e. one of complete

(3) Complete understanding with Russia is essential, and this
might be obtained through personal contact yourself or Roosevelt
rather than through Foreign Office. Without discussing pros and
cons, the objective fact is that matters like delay over
declaration of War against Finland, Hungary, Roumania, have
apparently made Russia disposed to be doubtful out position. In
this connection we note the many reports indicating Soviet
suspicion and disappointment (see your D. 647 [4] and M. 371 [5],
M. 398 [6]). Would be wise to keep in mind that if Stalin's plans
are delayed by Foreign Office, there may be some tendency separate

(4) We think there is very urgent need for specific understandings
Russia regarding military, naval and air co-operation. We are not
concerned to block Stalin's wish ultimately to gain territory at
expense Germany and Japan, so long as we can overthrow those

(5) In any event, in view realisation of unpreparedness for Far
East campaign against Japan, Russia's assistance may become one of
crucial importance. We believe we should bargain frankly for
immediate Russian support against Japan.

(6) In particular, it should be possible (subject to the United
States Government being informed) to convey to Stalin that at the
peace settlement Russian frontier claims in the west will receive
the general support of British countries. As we see it, these
frontier claims are no more than we had to recognise de facto in
1939 and 1940, and are of such a nature as would at once be
conceded by Hitler without compunction to secure the status quo
ante the outbreak of German-Soviet hostilities. We note in this
respect that in all the dealings with the Czechoslovak and Polish
Governments, the United Kingdom Government has carefully refrained
from giving any guarantees of restoration of complete territorial
integrity, and we feel that Finland, Roumania and others are not
deserving of any special sympathy.

(7) We consider further that such an intimation would be more
likely to be acceptable to Stalin if it were accompanied by a
similar reference to Russian strategical and territorial
requirements in the Far East, (i.e. Northern Korea, Southern
Saghalien and possibly the neutralisation of Manchuria) and also
to the long-standing Russian objective of an outlet to the Indian
Ocean by way of Iran.

(8) The present exchanges with Stalin should be conducted on the
broadest possible lines. Otherwise it appears only too likely that
by delaying too much as to the question of Russia's European
frontiers the opportunity for Anglo-Russian understanding and co-
operation in the wider theatres of war may be lost. We press these
views most strongly. [7]

1 Winston Churchill, who was then visiting the United States. In
cablegram 820 of 22 December (AA:A3196, 1941, 0.22384) Curtin
requested that his message be forwarded to Churchill 'at his
present location'.

2 The U.K. Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, had discussions with
Stalin from 16 to 22 December. Eden's main aim was to secure
formal declarations on the questions of mutual military aid in the
fight against Germany and diplomatic collaboration on the post-war
peace settlement and security in Europe. No formal agreement was
concluded, however, because negotiations broke down over Stalin's
insistence that the U.K. Govt formally recognise Russian
sovereignty over the Baltic States. Eden maintained that the
United Kingdom could not accede to Russian demands without prior
negotiation with, and approval of, the U.S. and Dominion Govts as
these territorial demands conflicted with the Atlantic Charter.

3 Dispatched 10 and 19 December. On file AA:A1608, A41/1/1, xxv.

4 Dispatched 27 October. On file AA:A981, War 44
5 Dispatched 21 November. On file AA:A1608, 0.41/1/2.

6 Dispatched 28 November. On file AA:A981, Germany 72.

7 The U.K. Lord Privy Seal, Clement Attlee, informed Curtin on 23
December that the 'position as regards discussions in Moscow has
changed and there is now no question of immediate negotiation of
agreements. But we are transmitting what you say regarding the
Foreign Secretary's visit to Moscow to the Prime Minister in
accordance with your request'. See cablegram 878 (AA:A3195, 1941,
1.29265) from Lord Cranborne, U.K. Dominions Secretary.

[AA:A3196, 1941, 0.22365]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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