THE TELEGRAM OF THE PLENIPOTENTIARY OF THE USSR IN GREAT BRITAIN I. M. MAISKY TO THE PEOPLE'S COMMISSAR FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE USSR V. M. MOLOTOV
On November 13, 1939.
1. I had today an appropriate occasion to talk during a breakfast with Churchill in spirit of your telegram from November 11. Churchill did not hide his satisfaction because in Moscow there is a desire to improve Anglo-Soviet relations, and for this he noticed: "The main thing is that there was a desire. If the desire exists, there will be ways and means for its realization". In this regard, Churchill began lengthy to prove that genuine, serious interests of the USSR and the British Empire have not collided and this creates a solid base for improvement and strengthening of the Anglo-Soviet relations.
2. To my question, how in this case it is explained that the policy hostile to the USSR, which the British authorities now conduct in the various ends of the world (I gave a number of examples), and to my indication that without change of this policy, it is difficult to speak about improvement in the Anglo-Soviet relations, Churchill answered: "You should consider that a sudden turn of the Soviet policy at the end of August was big shock for England. Within the first two months of war, your position was either clear to us. Many suspected (though I never believed in it) that you have a military alliance with Germany. Many expected that, not today, but tomorrow you will appear among our open enemies. In such situation it absolutely is not surprising that inveterate prejudices, chauvinism, suspicions etc. again emerged, and this is reflected to some extent on the work of the state apparatus". Churchill tried to deny, though without much perseverance, that the line of the British policy hostile to us is a product of decisions of the government, he pretended that in everything "local bodies" and "certain officials" are supposedly the guilty ones. It is no big work for me on a number of examples to show that it not so. Then Churchill began to recede and eventually declared that he will take a closer interest in the matter and, that if the British diplomacy really conducts now the anti-Soviet line, he will try to change a present state of affairs, because he, Churchill, is a stauch advocate of the kind relations between both countries.
3. At the initiative of Churchill and in connection with our general conversation on the Anglo-Soviet relations we spoke about Finland much. Churchill's views are on this matter reduced to the following: The USSR has all bases to be the dominating power in the Baltic Sea, and it corresponds to the British interests. Our requirements (border change on the Karelian Isthmus, islands in the Gulf of Finland, sea base at an entrance to the Gulf of Finland) are in essence quite natural and lawful.
The situation where a center similar to Leningrad, is under fire of long-range guns from the Finnish border is ridiculous. England cannot object to implementation of the Soviet requirements, especially in view of that from the Soviet side Finland is offered a certain compensation. It is possible to argue and bargain about the amount of compensation — it is the right of the Finns, but it is impossible to reject "in principle" such things, as granting the USSR this or that base, this or that piece of the boundary territory. England should not only keep from objecting to the implementation of Soviet requirements, but she even has a moral obligation to facilitate the USSR in their implementation as Russia lost the positions, including Baltic, as a result of participation in last war on Entante's side and with her sacrifices and efforts (especially at the beginning of war) rescued France and made the final victory possible for the Allies. On my remark that actually British diplomacy in Finland and Scandinavia carries out just the reverse line and that it is only one more proof of existence of that double-entry bookkeeping in British politics which gets jut in the way of improving of the Anglo-Soviet relations, Churchill responded to the statement that if my messages are correct, the British diplomacy in Scandinavia operates against the interests of their own country. Here Churchill added that he will check, how well-founded our accusations against the British diplomacy are. Further Churchill went on to say that, recognizing the full validity of our claims to Finland, he after all very much would like to hope that we are not going to resort to force against Finland, for it would have the most burdensome influence in England and would make it for a long time impossible to improve the Anglo-Soviet relations. There are other ways finally to achieve the changes we need. I answered Churchill in the spirit of the letter of Kalinin to Roosevelt, and also gave the respective facts from Molotov's report on October 31, but thus added [that] prudence or imprudence of present heads of Finland also is one of components of the situation created. About other questions mentioned in conversation, I will report in addition.
AVP Russian Federation, f. 059, op. 1, p. 300, d. 2078, l. 254 — 258
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Documents of foreign policy. 1939. XXII:2. No. 775. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnaya otnosheniya, 1992.
Machine assisted draft translation by Pauli Kruhse.
Finland in the Soviet foreign policy 1939-1940