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Historical documents

217 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 86 CANBERRA, 9 June 1943


Your telegrams S.88 [1], S.89 [2] and S.122. [3]

I have read these telegrams with great interest and appreciate the
importance of the issues raised. As I see it essential Australian
interests in this matter are:-

(a) Assurance of continued Soviet participation in the war and
Soviet co-operation in post-war reconstruction.

(b) Assurance that the defeat of Germany will mean the
stabilisation of Europe.

(2) In pursuing these aims it is necessary to view Soviet policy
realistically and to take account of facts as they are.

One of these facts is the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, to which it is
known the Russians attach high importance and which should be the
basis of British policy towards the Soviet Union.

(3) Further, Soviet policy is governed mainly by consideration of
political and strategical advantage, and the Soviet Union will
continue to co-operate with the Western Powers just so long as,
and to the extent to which, its interests are served.

(4) For this reason I think the time has gone past when Soviet
cooperation in Europe could be enlisted by any further general, or
in your term, imaginative, declaration. The Soviet Union is
already party to more than one broad declaration of this kind,
including the United Nations Declaration, the Atlantic Charter,
and the pronouncements contained in the Mutual Aid Agreements with
the United States.

In addition, Soviet co-operation has been sought in the frankest
terms on such major specific matters as post-war relief and post-
war monetary policy, and this process will certainly be followed
in other questions as they arise, for example, post-war civil

The Soviet Government is thus receiving and will continue to
receive the fullest opportunity for co-operation with the Western
Powers and I think that a further general declaration, as
suggested by you, would not now influence its policy beneficially
and might in fact have the opposite result.

(5) This being so, I consider that the problem of future stability
in Eastern Europe is one for solution on the basis of factual
conditions at the termination of the war in Europe. Some of these
are already clearly emerging.

I regard the arguments in Dominions Office telegram D.319 [4]
against raising the matter of frontiers with the Poli[sh]
Government at present as perfectly sound. At the same time, I
think the realistic view must be that there should be at earliest
opportune moment an intimation to the Soviet Government that after
the war British good offices will be available for a settlement of
this question in a manner which will satisfy legitimate U.S.S.R.

aspirations and ensure the security not only of Russia but of
Europe generally. In other words, the Poles will have to learn the
realistic lesson which the Czechs have already learned, namely,
that their destiny is inevitably that of a State within the Soviet
sphere of influence.

(6) It is my impression that the Soviet Government itself is
anxious to prevent the Polish-Soviet dispute from impairing its
relations with the United Kingdom. The best policy for the time
being would appear to be patient efforts to repair the Polish-
Soviet breach without, at the moment, raising the frontier
question, and to further the development of closer relations with
the Soviet Government by encouraging the Russians to enter into
confidential discussions on the other important questions now
facing the United Nations, above all the formulation of a system
of security.

(7) In substance I view with doubt any discussions having for
their purport a semi-secret understanding with the Soviet about
European partitioning on the lines of the Italian arrangements in
the last war. And therefore I consider that we should treat Russia
as a powerful Ally bound by the same general considerations which
we put openly to the world.

1 Document 183.

2 See Document 183, note 4.

3 This appears to refer to Bruce's cablegram S112 of 1 June on
file AA:M100, June 1943. Bruce argued that 'an imaginative concept
of post-war security and political organisation which would remove
from smaller nations the fear of aggression' would assuage Polish
fears and encourage their acquiescence in a border adjustment.

This in turn would encourage Soviet involvement in post-war co-
operation with the Western allies.

4 Dispatched 28 May. On file AA:A989, 43/715/5/2, i.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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