Soviet Ambassador Umanskii's telegram, 2 December 1939 По-русски

Telegram of K.A. Umanskii,
Plenipotentiary of the USSR to USA,
to the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs

2 December 1939.
Top secret

Today's statement by Roosevelt against us and the Finns is itself a flagrant violation of the American tradition of ostentatious neutrality during the whole Roosevelt administration.

The statement gives new stimulus to an aggravated anti-Soviet pursuit in the press and to blackmailing for breaking off the relations, this is favored by a number of right-wing senators. In conformity with Roosevelt's statement about the threat on small countries' independence the press writes a lot of the threat from our side, especially on the Norwegian arctic coast (even though this is refuted in Oslo, which could be of some use when unmasking this provocation in our press), and also of a threat on Rumania and other Balkan countries, and in this connection all sorts of anti-Soviet appearances in Italy are advertised as a "guardian" of the Balkans. There has also been some attempts to intimidate Japan by us, and also a tendency to frightening the Germans with our hegemony in the Baltics.

In the official bulletins the State Department sends out to the press reports from the US legation in Helsinki, false information from the Finnish leadership. It looks like the American government fosters an illusion that the comedy of "cabinet reform" [in Finland] might lead to a compromise. The creation of the People's Government*) evokes a new upsurge of class hatred against us. However, for the present, Roosevelt and Hull**) are adapting themselves to the encouragement of anti-Soviet blackmail and are making excuses on journalists' questions about clarifications of relations to USSR, the employment of the Neutrality Act, the appeal of the US government to the aviation industry not to sell to us and so forth.

The "New York Herald Tribune" asserts, that Roosevelt is for, but Hull against because in his opinion the rupture does not help the Finns but it draws the US into a European conflict. I do my best in trying to check this, I have a great deal of doubts about the present line-up of forces, but on a basis of a number of indications I assume that there are, within the American government and between the cliques in the State Department, disagreements over possible measures against the Soviet Union. In a private discussion with two journalists, as told to me by an eyewitness, one of Hull's assistants, Berle***), lamented today that the US cannot undertake "anything practical" for Finland. Following an obvious advice by the State Department, the Finnish envoy Procopé made it known that the Finnish government declared a situation of war, not a state of war, thus giving a hint of the undesirability of using the Neutrality Act in the present conflict, because it would cause no damage on the whole to us who pay the US in cash, but to the bourgeois Finland who, over the last weeks, has been conducting negotiations of a credit of 15 Mill. from the Export-Import Bank of the US. However, when the illusions about the duration of resistance of old Finland are crushed, these considerations against the employment of the Act disappear and it is, possibly, put into effect.

In spite of the aggravating campaign to break off the relations, I regard this, as before, extremely improbable. In addition to interpretations of earlier reasons, this impression is supported by a report from London, where at least a part of the British cabinet is against an American-Soviet break-off which would promote an even closer rapprochement of the USSR to Germany.

So, most probably the anti-Soviet pursuit will be further stimulated, Steinhardt****) is recalled, we are accused of intervening in internal affairs, all sorts of faults are picked up with our economic organisations, "recommendations" to refrain from bargaining with us are probably given to the aviation industry, and furthermore the People's Government*) is not recognised and Helsinki is encouraged to resist. Hull has not yet summoned me.

The instructions in your telegram of 2 December 1939 have been taken as the guiding principles. In connection with the atmosphere of pursuit and threats created around the legation, I have taken all precautionary measures here and in the consulates.


AVP RF, F. 059, op. 1, p. 296, d. 2049, pp. 166-169.

*) A puppet government, comprised of Finnish emigré communists, set up on Dec. 1, 1939, in the recently seized Finnish territory at Terijoki (now Zelenogorsk)
**) Cordell Hull, 1871-1955, lawyer, Secretary of State nearly all the Roosevelt term, 1933-44
***) Adolf A. Berle, professor in economics, Assistant Secretary of State, 1938-44
****) Lawrence A. Steinhardt, US Ambassador to USSR

The document has been published in the book, "Documents of Foreign Policy, 1939. Book 2", by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Moscow 1992.

The translation, made by Pauli Kruhse, is based mainly on the Finnish language translation by Lahja Huovila.

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