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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



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.


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

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]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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