760d.61/373: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State
 
 
Moscow, November 1, 1939—2 p.m.
[Received 2:30 a.m.]

844. For the President and the Secretary and the Under Secretary. My 838, October 30, 9 p.m. The Finnish Minister called this afternoon at 6 o'clock and set forth his understanding of the present status of the Finnish-Soviet negotiations as follows:
1. The Finnish Government has offered the northern tip of the Rybachi Peninsula. The Soviet Government desires the southern part as well primarily for the purpose of digging a canal to the Bay of Varanger. The Minister gave it as his opinion that the Finnish Government is prepared to meet the Soviet request.
2. The Soviet Russian Government is prepared to reduce its demands to six of the islands in the Gulf of Finland including Hogland in lieu of the eight originally demanded. The Finnish Government has made a counter-offer of five of the islands and the southern part of Hogland, the northern part to be retained by Finland. The Minister gave it as his opinion that if necessary the Finnish Government would cede all of Hogland.
3. The Finnish Government has offered to cede territory in the vicinity of Leningrad so that the Finnish frontier will be distant 60 kilometers from Leningrad. This territory constitutes approximately three of the four communes originally demanded by the Soviet Government. As to the fourth commune the Soviet Government is prepared to agree to the retention by Finland of such part thereof as will constitute adequate protection for Viborg. The Finnish Minister gave it as his opinion that this particular demand no longer presents any serious difficulty.
4. The Finnish Government has decided to refuse to grant the Soviet Government a naval base at Hango.
5. The Soviet Government has offered to consent to the fortification by Finland alone of the Aland Islands without Swedish participation. The Minister was not clear as to whether this offer by the Soviet Government was contingent on the granting by Finland of a base at Hango.
6. The Soviet Government has offered to cede approximately 5,400 square kilometers of mostly timber lands to the Finnish Government in central Karelia. That is slightly more than twice the area to be ceded by Finland to the Soviet Government. The Minister stated that this offer was not unsatisfactory to the Finnish Government. In conclusion the Minister gave it as his opinion that if the Soviet Government was prepared to withdraw its demand for a base at Hango the negotiations could be speedily closed.
In Molotov's review of foreign affairs before the Supreme Soviet delivered at 9 o'clock tonight he dwelt at length upon the Finnish negotiations. Although the text of his remarks is not yet available, I believe the following is an accurate summary of that portion of his speech. Molotov reviewed the Soviet proposals in regard to the territory north of Leningrad, certain islands in the Gulf of Finland desired for the purpose of establishing a naval base and certain frontier rectifications in the northern part of Karelia. In exchange he stated the Soviet Union was willing to give Finland double the amount of territory in central Karelia and to withdraw the Soviet objections to the fortifications of the Aland Islands by Finland but without the participation of any third power. He appears to have made no reference to Hango or a naval base on the Finnish mainland but to have referred only to a base on an island in the Gulf of Finland presumably Hogland.
In respect to the President's message to Kalinin, Molotov stated that it was in violation of American neutrality. He then added that the Soviet Union had given Finland its independence in 1917 but that the Philippines had yet to receive theirs from the United States!
It appears that Molotov by failing to mention Hango and referring only to a base on one of the islands in the vicinity of Kronstadt was in effect announcing the abandonment of the Soviet demand for a base on the Finnish mainland. In this connection I refer to my 828, October 28, 9 p. m.
In the light of the foregoing I am now inclined to believe that there should be no great difficulty in arriving at a satisfactory solution of the Finnish-Soviet issue which, unless the Soviet Government next undertakes some form of "amicable cooperation" with the Philippines, should now allow me a night's sleep.
A full summary of Molotov's speech will be telegraphed in the morning when the text should be available.

Steinhardt


Source: Foreign relations of the United States. Diplomatic papers. 1939. Volume I. General. (CONCERN OF THE UNITED STATES OVER SOVIET DEMANDS ON FINLAND AND THE OUTBREAK OF THE WINTER WAR). Department of State 1956, publ. 6242. (University of Wisconsin Digital Collections)

President Roosevelt's message to Kalinin.

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