Translation.Monsieur le Commissaire du Peuple,
In reply to your letter of the 26th instant, I have the honour, acting on instructions from my Government, to inform you as follows:
After the alleged violation of the frontier, the Government of Finland immediately ordered an inquiry. It was found that the cannon-shots mentioned in your letter were not fired from the Finnish side. It appears, on the contrary, on investigation, that there was firing on November 26th from 15.45 to 16.05 o'clock (Soviet time) on the Soviet side of the frontier in the vicinity of the village of Mainila, which you mentioned. On the Finnish side the points could be seen where the shots had fallen, close to the village of Mainila, situated not more than 800 metres from the frontier, beyond an open field. From the explosions caused by the seven shots which were heard, it was clear that the point where the arm or arms in question were fired was at a distance of about 1½—2 kilometres south-east of the place where the shots exploded. The competent frontier-guard post made a note of the shots, in the official record, at the actual moment of the incident.
In view of these circumstances, it seems possible that the question may be of an accident which occurred in the course of firing practice on the Soviet side and which, according to your communication, unfortunately caused the loss of human lives. In consequence,it is my duty to reject your protest and to state that Finland has committed no hostile act against the U.S.S.R. such as you allege to have taken place.
In your letter you also alluded to the declarations, addressed to M. Paasikivi and M. Tanner during their visit to Moscow, concerning the danger resulting from the concentration of regular troops in the immediate vicinity of the frontier near Leningrad. In this connection, I desire to direct your attention to the fact that, on the Finnish side, the troops stationed in the immediate vicinity of the frontier consist principally of the frontier guard forces; on the other hand, no guns, for instance, have been placed in position whose range would reach beyond the frontier. Although there are thus no concrete grounds for withdrawing the troops from the frontier-line, as you propose, my Government is prepared, none the less, to open conversations with a view to the mutual withdrawal of troops to a certain distance from the frontier.
It was with pleasure that I noted your statement that the Government of the U.S.S.R. have no intention of exaggerating the importance of the frontier incident which, according to your letter, is alleged to have taken place. I am happy to have been able to dispel this misunderstanding the very day after the receipt of your proposal.
Nevertheless, in order that no misunderstanding may persist in the matter, my Government propose that the frontier commissioners of the two countries on the Carelian Isthmus should be instructed to carry out a joint inquiry into the incident in question, in conformity with the Convention concerning Frontier Commissioners, concluded on September 24th, 1928.
[Accept, M. le Commissaire du Peuple, the assurance of my high consideration.]
A. S. Yrjö-Koskinen.
Contemporary and officially published Russian and Finnish diplomatic and other documents on Soviet-Finnish relations 1939-1940.
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