REPORT AND RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE ASSEMBLY
OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS, DATED DECEMBER 14th. 1939.


Introduction.

The first duty of the Assembly, which is seized in virtue of Article 15 of the Covenant, is to endeavour "to effect a settlement of the dispute" referred to it. The Government of the U.S.S.R. having announced that they had decided not to send representatives to the Assembly, the following telegram was dispatched to Moscow on December 11th after the first meeting of the Committee set up by the Assembly:

"The Committee set up by the Assembly, which is seized in virtue of Article 15 of the Covenant, addresses an urgent appeal to the Government of the U.S.S.R. and to the Finnish Government to cease hostilities and open immediate negotiations through the mediation of the Assembly with a view to restoring peace. Finland, which is present, accepts. Should be grateful if you would inform me before tomorrow (Tuesday) evening if the Government of the U.S.S.R. is prepared to accept this appeal and cease hostilities forthwith."

The Government of the U.S.S.R. replied on December 12th as follows: "The Government of the U.S.S.R. thanks you, Monsieur le President, for kind invitation to take part in discussion of the Finnish question. At the same time, the Government of the U.S.S.R. begs to inform you that it cannot accept this invitation for the reasons set out in the telegram of December 4th from the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs sent in reply to Monsieur Avenol's communication.1)
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1 ) Moscow News, Dec. 11, 1939, published Mr. Avenol's telegram and Foreign Secretary Molotov's reply to it as follows,    In Russian. (Izvestiia, 5 Dec. 1939)

Reply of Soviet Gov't to Telegram of League of Nations Secretary

The following telegram was received on Dec. 4 by the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs from Berne, Switzerland, from M. Avenol, Secretary-General of the League of Nations.

"I have the honor to bring to your attention the text of the telegram which I am addressing to members of the Council and of the League of Nations: "I have received the following letter dated Dec. 3, 1939, from the permanent delegate of Finland to the League of Nations: "The USSR, with which Finland has maintained good-neighborly relations since the signing of the peace treaty in Tartu in 1920, and with which Finland has signed a non-aggression pact, the validity of which expires only in 1945, suddenly on the morning of Nov. 30 of this year, attacked not only frontier positions, but also open Finnish cities, spreading death and devastation among the civilian population, particularly by attacks from the air. Finland has never taken any measures against her powerful neighbor. She invariably has expended the greatest efforts in order to live at peace with the USSR. Nevertheless, basing itself on the alleged refusal of Finland to agree on the question of the so-called border incidents, and accusing Finland of allegedly refusing to agree to the strengthening of the security of Leningrad, the USSR first denounced the above-mentioned non-aggression pact, and then rejected the proposal of the Government of Finland to resort to mediation by some neutral power. On instructions from my Government I have the honor of informing you of the above-mentioned facts, with the request to have the kindness to convene the Council and the Assembly immediately, as provided by Articles 11 and 15 of the Covenant, and to request them to take all necessary measures to stop aggression, I shall not fail to furnish you with a complete statement of the reasons and circumstances which compelled my Government to request the League of Nations to intervene in the conflict which has led to a clash between two of its members. (Signed) Rudolf Holsti."

"'In accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 11, I summon the members of the Council to Geneva on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 12 o'clock noon. I am submitting to the Chairman of the Assembly a proposal to summon the Assembly on Monday, Dec. 11. The date will be confirmed. (Signed) Avenol, Secretary-General.'"

On behalf of the Soviet Government, Comrade Molotov addressed the following telegraphic reply on Dec. 4 to M. Avenol.

"On instruction of the Government of the Soviet Union, I have the honor of informing you that the proposed summoning of the Council of the League of Nations by you, on Dec, 9, and of the Assembly of the League of Nations on Dec. 11, on the initiative of Mr. Rudolf Holsti and on the basis of Article 11, Paragraph 1, of the Covenant of the League of Nations, is regarded by my Government as being groundless.

"The Soviet Union is not in a state of war with Finland and does not threaten the people of Finland with war. Therefore, the reference to Article 11, Paragraph 1, of the Covenant of the League of Nations is incorrect. The Soviet Union maintains peaceful relations with the Democratic Republic of Finland, with whose Government on Dec. 2 of this year a treaty on mutual assistance and friendship was concluded. Through this treaty, all questions on which negotiations were unsuccessfully conducted with the delegates of the former government of Finland, which has now resigned its authority, have been regulated.

"The Government of the Democratic Republic of Finland in its declaration of Dec. 1 of this year, addressed to the Government of the USSR a proposal to give the Democratic Republic of Finland the support of its military forces for the purpose of eliminating as rapidly as possible, by joint efforts, the extremely dangerous hotbed of war created in Finland by its former rulers. Under these circumstances, the appeal of Mr. Rudolf Holsti to the League of Nations cannot be regarded as a justification for convening the Council of the League and the Assembly, the more so, since the persons, on behalf of whom Mr. Rudolf Holsti appeals to the League, are not the genuine representatives of the Finnish people. "In the event that, notwithstanding the above-mentioned considerations, the Council of the League and the Assembly were nonetheless to be convened to consider the appeal of Mr. Rudolf Holsti, the Soviet Government would not find it possible to take part in these meetings. This decision is reinforced by the circumstance that the communication of the Secretary-General of the League of Nations on the convening of the Council and the Assembly, repeating the text of the insulting and slanderous letter of Mr. Holsti, is obviously incompatible with the respect due the Soviet Union.

MOLOTOV.

Dec. 4, 1939."

In view of the absence of a delegation of the Government of the U.S.S.R. and as a result of the examination of the reasons it adduces in explanation of that absence, it is unfortunately clear that to attempt at the present time to obtain the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of normal peaceful relations between Finland and the U.S.S.R. through mediation and conciliation would be fruitless.

The Assembly has therefore the duty of publishing the report provided for in the Covenant "containing a statement of the facts of the dispute and the recommendations which are deemed just and proper in regard thereto".

I.

To establish the circumstances of the dispute, the Assembly has had before it the documents furnished by the Finnish delegation. As the Secretary-General has been apprised of the views of the Soviet Government only through the brief telegram from M. Molotov dated December 4th, 1939, it has been thought desirable, in order to ensure the impartiality of this statement, to refer to the official documents published in the communiqués of the Tass Agency.

Below will be found a statement of the undisputed facts that emerge from the Finnish and Soviet documents and, in the case of disputed points, the versions given by both Governments.

The Moscow Negotiations between Finland and the U.S.S.R.
(October 12th-November 13th, 1939).

1. On October 5th, the Finnish Government was invited by the Soviet Government to exchange views on political questions. Finland decided to accept the invitation and send delegates to Moscow.

2. In the circumstances, the news that the Soviet Government had invited the Finnish Government to negotiate with it made a certain impression, not only in Finland, but in many other countries.

On October 11th, just as the Finnish delegation was arriving in Moscow, President Roosevelt sent a personal letter to M. Kalinin, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, expressing "the earnest hope that the Soviet Union will make no demands on Finland which are inconsistent with the maintenance and development of amicable and peaceful relations between the two countries and the independence of each".

The Soviet Government replied on October 12th: "I think I should remind you, Mr. President, that the independence of the Finnish Republic as a State was recognised spontaneously by the Soviet Government on December 31st, 1917, and that the sovereignty of Finland is guaranteed by the Treaty of Peace between the R.S.F.S.R. and Finland signed on October 14th, 1920. The above-mentioned acts on the part of the Soviet Government determined the fundamental principles of the relations between the Soviet Union and Finland. It is in accordance with those principles that the present negotiations between the Soviet Government and the Finnish Government are being conducted. Notwithstanding the tendentious versions put about by some who evidently have not the peace of Europe at heart, the sole object of the negotiations in question is to establish closer relations between the Soviet Union and Finland and to strengthen the friendly co-operation between the two countries, in order to ensure the security of the Soviet Union and that of Finland."

[After this (paragraphs 3—11b) the course of the negotiations is described in the report in accordance with the memoranda1) of the Governments of Finland and Soviet Russia. In addition, the official statement published by the Tass agency on November 11th is mentioned, in which it is said that Finland refused to accept the minimum demands of the Soviet Union and even displayed an increasingly unyielding attitude by increasing her forces in the proximity of Leningrad from 2 or 3 divisions to 7 divisions.

An account is given in the report concerning the final phase of the crisis between Finland and the Soviet Union after the negotiations had been broken off, the following documents being referred to: the note of the Soviet Government of November 26th (the Mainila incident), the reply of the Finnish Government of November 27th, the note of the Soviet Government of November 28th (the denouncement of the non-aggression pact), the reply of the Finnish Government of November 29th.2)
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1 ) Documents Nos. 13, 14, 15, 18, 21.
2 ) Documents Nos. 23, 24, 25, 27.

The breaking off of diplomatic relations between Finland and the Soviet Union is described in the report in the following manner:]

The rupture of relations was stated to be due to the fact that the Government of the U.S.S.R. could no longer tolerate "attacks on the Soviet troops by the Finnish troops", which were continuing not only on the Karelian Isthmus but also in other frontier regions.

c) M. Molotov's Speech.

At the moment when the Finnish Minister was notified of the rupture of relations, M. Molotov delivered a broadcast speech, in which he said:

"The hostile policy that the present Finnish Government is pursuing towards our country obliges us to take immediate steps to ensure the external security of the State... From such a Government and from its mad military clique there is nothing now to be expected but fresh violent provocations ... The Soviet Government has come to the conclusion that it can no longer maintain normal relations with the Finnish Government, and for that reason it has thought it necessary to recall its political and economic representatives immediately from Finland."

The President of the Council of People's Commissars then proceeded to deny the "ill-intentioned calumnies" of the foreign Press hostile to the U.S.S.R. The Soviet Government had no intention of taking and annexing Finnish territory and, had Finland's policy towards it been friendly, would have been prepared to discuss in a favourable sense even such questions as that of the union of the Karelian people living in the principal districts of the present Soviet Karelia with the nearly-related Finnish people in a single independent Finnish State. Nor had the Government of the U.S.S.R. any intention of infringing the independence of Finland or of interfering in her domestic and foreign affairs.

"We regard Finland", he said, "whatever may be the regime in existence there, as an independent State, sovereign in all its domestic and foreign policy. We are most anxious that the Finnish people should itself decide its internal and external affairs as it thinks best. The peoples of the U.S.S.R. did all that was necessary in the past to create an independent Finland. In the future, too, the peoples of our country are ready to help the Finnish people to secure its free and independent development.

"Nor has the U.S.S.R. any intention of injuring in any degree the interests of other States in Finland. The question of the relations between Finland and other States is entirely one for Finland herself, and not a matter in which the U.S.S.R. considers that it has any right to interfere. The object of the steps we are taking is solely to ensure the security of the U.S.S.R., and particularly of Leningrad, with its 3½ million inhabitants. In the present atmosphere, raised to white heat by the war, we cannot allow the solution of this vital and urgent problem to depend upon the ill-will of those who at present govern Finland. That problem must be solved by the efforts of the U.S.S.R. itself, in friendly co-operation with the Finnish people. We are sure that the favourable solution of this problem of the security of Leningrad will lay the foundations of an indissoluble friendship between the U.S.S.R. and Finland."

Soviet Troops cross the Frontier.

12. On November 30th, at 8 a.m., the troops of the Leningrad military area crossed the frontier on the Isthmus of Karelia and in several other regions. The order had been given by the High Command of the Red Army, on account, according to the Tass Agency's communiqué, of "fresh armed provocations on the part of the Finnish military clique".

According to the same communiqué, these provocations had taken place during the night at various points on the frontier. While Soviet troops were entering Finland, Soviet aircraft "dropped bombs on the aerodromes at Viipuri and Helsinki".

The Finnish Government gives a different version of these events; the Soviet troops crossed the frontier as early as the evening of November 29th,1) near Pummanki, on the Rybachi Peninsula, and on the morning of the 30th, while the Soviet troops were crossing the frontier at various points, Soviet aircraft bombed not merely the aerodromes but the towns of Helsinki and Viipuri, as well as several other places.

13. On December 2nd, the Tass Agency announced that "M. Kuusinen, President of the Popular Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, has addressed an official declaration to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. concerning the formation of the Popular Government of Finland and has proposed to establish diplomatic relations between the Democratic Republic of Finland and the Soviet Union. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. has decided to recognise the Popular Government of Finland and to establish diplomatic relations between the U.S.S.R. and the Democratic Republic of Finland".

The Finnish Government points out that the reference is to a "phantom government" set up by the U.S.S.R. in the village of Terijoki, near the frontier. It is composed of Finnish communists, most of whom took refuge in Soviet territory after the civil war of 1918.

14. Since that date, while the Soviet Government maintains diplomatic relations and has concluded a "pact of mutual assistance and friendship" with this "popular government", whose powers are limited to the portion of Finnish territory occupied by the Soviet troops, the Finnish Government, reconstituted on the basis of the national union of all parties, and still recognised by all the Powers except the U.S.S.R., is directing the Finnish nation's resistance to the Soviet forces.
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1 ) More exactly on November 28th.

Offers of Good Offices and Offers of Negotiations subsequent to the Outbreak of Hostilities.

15. A few hours after the entry of the Soviet troops into Finland, the diplomatic representatives of the United States at Helsinki and at Moscow communicated to the Finnish and Soviet Governments the text of a statement made on the previous day by the United States Secretary of State. According to his statement, the United States Government, "without in any way becoming involved in the merits of the dispute and limiting its interest to the solution of the dispute by peaceful processes only . . . would, if agreeable to both Parties, gladly extend its good offices".

This offer was accepted by Finland alone.

The Soviet Government also rejected, on December 4th, a Finnish proposal transmitted by the Minister of Sweden at Moscow for the opening of fresh negotiations with a view to an agreement. The Soviet Government replied that it recognised only the "Popular Government of the Republic of Finland".

16. The existence of this "Popular Government" was also one of the reasons given by the Soviet Government for its refusal to sit on the Council or in the Assembly if they examined Finland's appeal.

II.

The facts set forth above have to be considered in relation to the legal situation arising from the commitments by which the two countries are bound.

Since the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of the Finnish State, the latter has concluded with the U.S.S.R. a number of treaties. Moreover, both States are Parties to the Pact of Paris of 1928 and the Convention of 1933 defining the aggressor, and both are Members of the League of Nations.

1) The Treaty of Peace signed at Dorpat on October 14th, 1920, between Finland and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic recalls in its Preamble that in 1917 Finland was proclaimed an independent State and that Russia had recognised the independence and sovereignty of the Finnish State within the frontiers of the Grand-Duchy of Finland. This Treaty fixes, inter alia, the frontier "between the States of Russia and Finland", the limit of the territorial waters of the contracting Powers, the military neutralisation of certain Finnish islands in the Gulf of Finland, etc.

2) As regards the territorial frontier between the two States from Lake Ladoga to the Arctic Ocean, the Republic of Finland and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic signed at Helsinki on June 1st, 1922, a Convention regarding measures taken in order to ensure peace at the frontier. This Convention established and delimited a zone on both sides of and along the frontier. Each of the two contracting Parties undertook, inter alia, with a view to ensuring the inviolability of the frontier, not to maintain within the limits of its zone armed forces other than the regular military units or groups belonging to the regular frontier guard, whose total strength might not exceed 2,500 men on either side. The distribution of the armed forces in the frontier zones was to be carried out under the supervision of each country, which was to communicate to the other Party information regarding such distribution. The establishment of organisations in the frontier zones for the avowed purpose of preparing, encouraging or supporting attacks on the territory of the other Party was unconditionally prohibited. The Russo-Finnish Central Mixed Commission was to have the duty of supervising the carrying-out of the provisions of the Convention; it was to act through the Frontier Sub-Commissions and Local Supervisory Committees.

3) As regards the frontier on the Karelian Isthmus, the two Governments exchanged at Helsinki on September 24th, 1928, notes whereby Finland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics each appointed a frontier commissioner in order to prevent the occurrence of local incidents on the common frontier on that Isthmus or to facilitate their prompt settlement. The frontier commissioners of the two Parties were to deal jointly with frontier incidents, including cases where shots had been fired from the territory of one of the Parties at persons belonging to the frontier guard, or at other persons, or into the territory of the other Party. When such incidents occurred, the commissioners were to take appropriate measures to settle them in the easiest and quickest way. Incidents regarding which the commissioners were unable to agree were to be dealt with through diplomatic channels.

4) Under the General Pact for the Renunciation of War dated August 27th, 1928 (Paris Pact), the Parties solemnly declared in the names of their respective peoples that they condemned recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounced it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another. They further agreed that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or whatever origin they might be, which might arise among them, should never be sought except by pacific means.

5) Desirous "of confirming and completing the General Pact of August 27th, 1928, for the Renunciation of War", the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Finland signed at Helsinki on January 21st, 1932, a Treaty of Non-Aggression and Pacific Settlement of Disputes. Under the terms of Article 1 of this Treaty, the "High Contracting Parties mutually guarantee the inviolability of the existing frontiers between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Republic of Finland, as fixed by the Treaty of Peace concluded at Dorpat on October 14th, 1920, which shall remain the firm foundation of their relations, and reciprocally undertake to refrain from any act of aggression directed against each other. Any act of violence attacking the integrity and inviolability of the territory or the political independence of the other High Contracting Party shall be regarded as an act of aggression, even if it is committed without declaration of war and avoids warlike manifestations". A "Protocol to Article 1" maintains fully in force "the Agreement of June 1st, 1922, regarding Measures ensuring the Inviolability of the Frontiers". Under Article 5, the High Contracting Parties declare that they will always endeavour to settle in a spirit of justice any disputes of whatever nature or origin which may arise between them, and will resort exclusively to pacific means of settling such disputes. For this purpose, the High Contracting Parties undertake to submit any disputes which may arise between them after the signature of the Treaty, and which it may not have been possible to settle through diplomatic proceedings within a reasonable time, to a procedure of conciliation before a joint conciliation commission. Conciliation procedure shall also be applied in the event of any dispute as to the application or interpretation of a convention concluded between the High Contracting Parties, and particularly the question whether the mutual undertaking as to non-aggression has or has not been violated.

In the Protocol of Signature, the High Contracting Parties declare that subsequent denunciation of the Treaty before its termination or annulment shall neither cancel nor restrict the undertakings arising from the Pact for the Renunciation of War signed at Paris on August 27th, 1928.

6) The Conciliation Commission provided for in Article 5 of the Treaty of Non-Aggression of January 21st, 1932, was set up by a Convention signed at Helsinki on April 22nd, 1932.

7) Finland acceded on January 31st, 1934, to the Convention for the Definition of Aggression concluded in London on July 3rd, 1933, between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and various other Powers immediately adjacent to it. In the Preamble to that Convention, the parties declare that they deem it necessary, in the interest of the general security, to define aggression as specifically as possible in order to obviate any pretext whereby it might be justified; they note that all States have an equal right to independence, security, the defence of their territories and the free development of their institutions.

Under Article I, each of the High Contracting Parties undertakes to accept in its relations with each of the other Parties, . . . "the definition of aggression as explained in the report dated May 24th, 1933, of the Committee on Security Questions (Politis Report) to the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, which report was made in consequence of the Soviet delegation's proposal".

Under Article II, the aggressor in an armed conflict shall, subject to the agreements in force between the parties to the dispute, be considered to be that State which is the first to commit any of the following actions:

.............................................................................
2) Invasion by its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State;
3) Attack by its land, naval, or air forces, with or without a declaration of war, on the territory, vessels or aircraft of another State;
4) Naval blockade of the coast or ports of another State.

Article III stipulates that no political, military, economic or other consideration may serve as an excuse or justification for the aggression referred to in Article II. Under the terms of the Annex to this Article III, the High Contracting Parties, desiring, "subject to the express reservation that the absolute validity of the rule laid down in Article III . . . shall be in no way restricted", to furnish certain indications for determining the aggressor, declare that no act of aggression within the meaning of Article II of the Convention can be justified on either of the following grounds:

A. — The internal condition of a State: e.g., its political, economic or social structure; alleged defects in its administration; disturbances due to strikes, revolutions, counter-revolutions or civil war.

B. — The international conduct of a State: e.g., the violation or threatened violation of the material or moral rights or interests of a foreign State or its nationals; the rupture of diplomatic or economic relations; . . . frontier incidents not forming any of the cases of aggression specified in Article II.

The accession of Finland to this Convention for the Definition of Aggression was given in virtue of the attached Protocol of Signature dated July 3rd, 1933, which reads as follows:

"It is hereby agreed between the High Contracting Parties that, should one or more of the other States immediately adjacent to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics accede in the future to the present Convention, the said accession shall confer on the State or States in question the same rights and shall impose on them the same obligations as those conferred and imposed on the ordinary signatories."

8) The Treaty of Non-Aggression and Pacific Settlement of Disputes concluded between Finland and the U.S.S.R. on January 21st, 1932, was extended to December 31st, 1945, by a Protocol signed at Moscow on April 7th, 1934.

9) By Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Members of the League agree that, if there should arise between them any dispute likely to lead to a rupture, they will submit the matter either to arbitration or judicial settlement or to inquiry by the Council, and they agree in no case to resort to war until three months after the award by the arbitrators or the judicial decision or the report by the Council.
III.

If the attitude and the acts of the two Governments in the course of the last few weeks are considered with reference to international commitments, the conclusions reached are as follows:

I. In the course of the various stages of the dispute the Finnish Government has not rejected any peaceful procedure.

1) It agreed to enter into direct negotiations with the Soviet Government, although the invitation it received from that Government at the beginning of October contained no explanation of the nature or scope of the negotiations contemplated.

In the course of those negotiations, although it was entitled to invoke the treaties it had signed with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to reject any proposal infringing the territorial integrity of Finland, it agreed to contemplate cessions of territory, and when it received the Soviet proposals, it submitted counter-proposals which, in its opinion, went as far as it was possible for it to go.

2) When the dispute arose regarding the Mainila incident, the Finnish Government proposed that the frontier commissioners of the two countries should jointly proceed to carry out an inquiry, as provided for in the above-mentioned Exchange of Notes dated September 24th, 1928.

3) Faced with the denunciation by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of the Non-Aggression Treaty of January 21st, 1932 — the denunciation being based on the accusation that Finland had systematically violated that Treaty — the Finnish Government, in a note which, owing to the rupture of diplomatic relations by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it was not possible to hand over at Moscow in time, asked for the application of the conciliation procedure laid down by that Treaty for cases of a dispute as to whether the mutual non-aggression undertaking had been violated.

4) In the same note (which could not be handed in at Moscow) the Finnish Government proposed the convening of a conciliation commission or, alternatively, neutral arbitration.

5) When requested by the Soviet Government on November 26th to remove its frontier troops on the Isthmus of Karelia forthwith to a distance of 20-25 kilometres, the Finnish Government replied that it was ready to enter into negotiations for a reciprocal withdrawal to a certain distance from the frontier. The Soviet Government having made it known that its proposal regarding the withdrawal of Finnish troops to a distance of 20-25 kilometres was a minimum proposal, the Finnish Government, in its note of November 29th, which could not be handed to the Soviet Government, declared itself ready to come to an agreement with the latter for the removal of the defence troops on the Karelian Isthmus, except frontier guards and Customs officials, to a distance from Leningrad such that they could no longer be held to menace the security of that city.

6) After the outbreak of hostilities, the Finnish Government accepted the offer of good offices made by the United States Government.

7) On December 3rd, the Finnish Government referred the matter to the Council of the League of Nations under Articles 11 and 15 of the Covenant.

On December 4th, it vainly endeavoured to transmit to the Soviet Government, through the Minister of Sweden at Moscow, a proposal for the opening of fresh negotiations for an agreement.

II. The attitude and acts of the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, on the other hand, have been incompatible with the commitments entered into by that country.

1) In the course of the negotiations at Moscow with the Finnish Government, it made to that Government proposals for cessions of territory. It stated that these proposals "represented its minimum conditions, its attitude having been dictated by the fundamental security requirements of the Soviet Union and, particularly, of the city of Leningrad".

Under the terms of Article 1 of the Treaty of Non-Aggression of January 21st, 1932, the two countries had, however, undertaken mutually to guarantee the inviolability of the existing frontiers as fixed by the Treaty of Peace concluded at Dorpat on October 14th, 1920, which was to remain the firm foundation of their relations.

2) After the Mainila incident, the Soviet Government insisted on the unilateral withdrawal of the Finnish frontier troops on the Karelian Isthmus to a distance of 20 to 25 kilometres. It made no reply to the Finnish Government's proposal that the commissioners of the two countries should be instructed to carry out a joint inquiry as provided for in the Exchange of Notes of September 24th, 1928.

3) The Soviet Government interpreted the Finnish Government's refusal to accept immediately a unilateral withdrawal of its forces for 20-25 kilometres as indicating the wish of the latter Government to keep Leningrad under a constant menace. On the ground that the Finnish Government was systematically violating the Treaty of Non-Aggression, the Soviet Government declared that it regarded itself as released from the undertakings assumed by it under that Treaty. The Treaty in question, which had been prolonged by the Protocol of April 7th, 1934, until December 31st, 1945, laid down, however, that a procedure of conciliation would be applied in the event of any dispute on the question whether the mutual undertakings as to non-aggression had or had not been violated.

4) Even if one of the Parties could, without first resorting to the conciliation procedure, have declared that the Treaty of Non-Aggression no longer existed because the other Party had violated it, the Protocol of Signature of January 21st, 1932, declares that subsequent denunciation of this Treaty before its termination shall neither cancel nor restrict the undertakings arising from the Pact for the Renunciation of War signed on August 27th, 1928, which the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Finland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was intended to confirm and complete.

5) The invasion of Finland by the land forces and the bombardments carried out by the naval and air forces of Soviet Russia are incompatible with the Pact for the Renunciation of War of August 27th, 1928, and with the provisions of Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

6) It is impossible to argue that the operations of the Soviet forces in Finland do not constitute resort to war within the meaning of the Pact of Paris or Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

Finland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are bound by the Convention for the Definition of Aggression signed at London on July 3rd, 1933. According to Article II of this Convention the aggressor in an armed conflict shall be considered to be that State which is the first to invade by its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, the territory of another State or to attack by its land, naval or air forces, with or without a declaration of war, the territory, vessels or aircraft of another State.

Under the terms of Article III "no political, military, economic or other consideration may serve as an excuse or justification for the aggression referred to in Article II".

The order to enter Finland was given to the Soviet troops on the ground of "further armed provocation". The reference was to frontier incidents or alleged frontier incidents. In the Annex, however, to Article II of the Convention, it is declared that no act of aggression within the meaning of Article II of the Convention can be justified by frontier incidents not forming any of the cases of aggression specified in Article II.

7) After having broken off diplomatic relations with the Finnish Government and rejected the good offices of the United States Government, the Soviet Government refused to send representatives to the Council or Assembly, on the ground that it was not in a state of war with Finland and was not threatening the Finnish people with war. This affirmation was based, inter alia, on the fact that the Soviet Government maintained peaceful relations with the "Democratic Republic of Finland" and that it had signed with the latter, a Pact of Assistance and Friendship "settling all the questions which the Soviet Government had fruitlessly discussed with the delegates of the former Finnish Government, now divested of its power".

The so-called "former Finnish Government" is the regular Government of the Republic of Finland. It is composed of all the important parties in the Parliament, whose unanimous confidence it enjoys. The Parliament is freely elected by the Finnish people. The last elections took place in July of this year. The Government is thus based on respect for democratic institutions.

The Soviet Government invokes in support of its attitude the relations which it maintains with a so-called government of its own creation which cannot, either de jure or de facto, be regarded as the Government of the Republic of Finland. That fact therefore cannot serve the Soviet Government as justification for its refusal to follow, for the settlement of its dispute with Finland, the procedure laid down in Article 15 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

Furthermore, in so refusing, the Soviet Government is failing to observe its obligation to respect the sovereignty and independence of Finland, and is also directly contravening the very definite obligations laid down in the Convention for the Definition of Aggression, which it signed and in the preparation of which it took a decisive part.

The whole object of this Convention, indeed, is to ensure that no political, military, economic or other considerations shall serve as an excuse or justification for aggression. The Annex to Article III specifies that aggression cannot be justified either by the international conduct of a State, for example: the violation or threatened violation of the material or moral rights or interests of a foreign State; or by the internal condition of a State, for example: its political, economic or social structure: alleged defects in its administration; disturbances due to strikes, revolutions, counter-revolutions or civil war.

It follows from these findings that the Soviet Government has violated, not only its special political agreements with Finland, but also Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Pact of Paris.

Resolution.
The Assembly:
I.

Whereas, by the aggression which it has committed against Finland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has failed to observe not only its special agreements with Finland but also Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Pact of Paris;

And whereas, immediately before committing that aggression, it denounced, without legal justification, the Treaty of Non-Aggression which it had concluded with Finland in 1932, and which was to remain in force until the end of 1945:

Solemnly condemns the action taken by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics against the State of Finland;

Urgently appeals to every Member of the League to provide Finland with such material and humanitarian assistance as may be in its power and to refrain from any action which might weaken Finland's power of resistance;

Authorises the Secretary-General to lend the aid of his technical services in the organisation of the aforesaid assistance to Finland;

And likewise authorises the Secretary-General, in virtue of the Assembly resolution of October 4th, 1937, to consult non-member States with a view to possible co-operation.
II.

Whereas, notwithstanding an invitation extended to it on two occasions, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has refused to be present at the examination of its dispute with Finland before the Council and the Assembly;

And whereas, by thus refusing to recognise the duty of the Council and the Assembly as regards the execution of Article 15 of the Covenant, it has failed to observe one of the League's most essential covenants for the safeguarding of peace and the security of nations;

And whereas it has vainly attempted to justify its refusal on the ground of the relations which it has established with an alleged Government which is neither de jure nor de facto the Government recognised by the people of Finland in accordance with the free working of their institutions;

And whereas the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has not merely violated a covenant of the League, but has by its own action placed itself outside the Covenant;

And whereas the Council is competent under Article 16 of the Covenant to consider what consequences should follow from this situation:

Recommends the Council to pronounce upon the question.
Text was published in the book The Development of Finnish-Soviet Relations during the autumn 1939 in the light of official documents. Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Helsinki 1940. The footnote in the beginning, containing only Molotov's reply, is here replaced by the "Moscow News" text of Dec. 11, which included also Mr. Avenol's telegram and, within it, Mr. Holsti's request.

"Izvestiya" publishing a communiqué about discussions of the USSR People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov, and the Foreign Minister of Finland, R. Holsti, on February 11, 1937.

Finland in the Soviet foreign policy 1939-1940 | Back to the history page.