The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State
Moscow, December 2, 1939—2 p.m. [Received December 2—11:50 p.m.]
993. My 991, December 2, noon [December 2, midnight]. The press today publishes the following announcement released by Tass at 10 a. m. this morning concerning my interview last night with Molotov.
"In connection with the declarations made by the Ambassador of the United States Mr. Steinhardt under instructions from the President, Mr. Roosevelt, Comrade Molotov made the following explanation concerning the questions relating to the events in Finland. The wish of Mr. Roosevelt for the prohibition of the bombardment from airplanes of the population of the cities of Finland insofar as it is addressed to the Soviet Union is based on a misunderstanding. Soviet airplanes have not bombarded cities and do not intend to do so but have bombarded airdromes since our Government prizes the interests of the Finnish people no less than any other Government. Naturally from America, which lies at a distance of over 8000 kilometers from Finland, it is possible that this is not apparent; but none the less, a fact remains a fact. In view of this, the above-mentioned declaration of President Roosevelt as is evident becomes pointless. Insofar as concerns the resignation of the government of Cajander and its replacement by the government of Tanner, Comrade Molotov said that this event unfortunately does not improve matters; the selection of Tanner is clearly unfortunate. Mr. Tanner was and still remains the evil genius of the Soviet-Finnish negotiations. If these negotiations had been carried on by Mr. Paasikivi on behalf of Finland, without the participation of Mr. Tanner as was the case during the first period of the negotiations, then the negotiations probably would have ended in an acceptable agreement, but the participation of Mr. Tanner in the negotiations spoiled the whole matter and apparently tied the hands of Mr. Paasikivi. In view of this the Soviet Government expects no good from the Government of Tanner. Furthermore, the formation of a new government of Finland—the "People's Government" headed by Mr. Kuusinen—makes him a new and important element in the situation and arouses in the Soviet Union the hope of a peaceful and satisfactory settlement of the crisis which has arisen."
During our conversation Molotov gave no intimation that he intended to give publicity to his statements.
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)