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Moscow News, April 1, 1940

Sixth Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, First Term

REPORT ON THE FOREIGN POLICY
OF THE GOVERNMENT

Delivered by Comrade V.M. Molotov, Chairman of Council of People's Commissars and People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs, at Sitting of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on March 29, 1940

Comrades deputies!

Five months have elapsed since the last session of the Supreme Soviet. In this brief interval events have occurred which are of first-rate importance in the development of international relations. It therefore behooves us to examine questions relating to our foreign policy at this session of the Supreme Soviet.

Recent events in international life must be examined first of all in the light of the war which broke out in Central Europe last autumn. So far, there have been no big battles in the war between the Anglo-French bloc and Germany, matters being confined to isolated engagements, chiefly on the sea and also in the air. It is known, however, that the desire for peace expressed by Germany at the end of last year was rebuffed by the Governments of Great Britain and France, and, as a result, preparations for extending the war were further intensified by both sides.

Germany, who has latterly come to unite about 80 million Germans, who has brought certain neighboring states under her sway and who has strengthened her military might in many respects, has evidently become a dangerous competitor for the principal imperialist powers of Europe - Great Britain and France. They therefore declared war on Germany under the pretext of fulfilling their obligations to Poland. It is now clearer than ever how far the real aims of the governments of these powers are from the purpose of defending disintegrated Poland or Czechoslovakia. This is shown if only by the fact that the Governments of Great Britain and France British and French governments have proclaimed that their aim in this war is to smash and dismember Germany, although this aim is still being concealed from the masses of the people under cover of slogans of defending the "democratic" countries and the "rights" of small nations.

Inasmuch as the Soviet Union refused to become an abettor of England and France in this imperialist policy toward Germany, their hostility toward the Soviet Union became still more pronounced, vividly showing how profound are the class roots of the hostile policy of the imperialists toward the Socialist state. And when the war began in Finland, the British and French imperialists were ready to make it the starting point of a war against the USSR in which not only Finland herself, but also the Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Norway, were to be used.

The attitude of the Soviet Union to the war developing in Europe is well known. Here too, the peaceable foreign policy of the USSR has been quite definitively demonstrated. The Soviet Union at once proclaimed that its position was one of neutrality and it has unswervingly adhered to that policy throughout this period.

The radical change for the better in relations between the Soviet Union and Germany found its expression in the non-aggression pact signed last August. These new, good relations between the USSR and Germany have been tested in practise in connection with the events in former Poland, and their strength has been sufficiently proved. The development of economic relations, which was envisaged even then, last autumn, found concrete expression already in the August (1939) trade agreement and, subsequently, in the February (1940) trade agreement. Trade between Germany and the USSR began to increase on the basis of mutual economic advantage, and there are grounds for its further development.

Our relations with England and France have taken a somewhat different course.

Inasmuch as the Soviet Union did not wish to become a tool of the British and French imperialists in their struggle against Germany for world hegemony, at every step we have encountered profound hostility in their policy toward our country. This has gone farthest of all in connection with the Finnish question, on which I shall dwell later. But in the past few months there has been quite a number of other instances of hostility toward the USSR on the part of French and British policy.

Suffice it to mention that the French authorities found nothing better to do than to effect a police raid on our trade representation in Paris two months ago. In spite of their efforts to pick on every trifle, the search of the premises of the trade representation yielded no result. It only brought disgrace on the initiators of this preposterous affair and showed that there were no real grounds whatever for this hostile action toward our country. As we see from the circumstances connected with the recall of Comrade Suritz, our ambassador to France, the French Government is seeking for artificial pretexts to stress its unfriendly attitude toward the Soviet Union. In order to make it clear that the Soviet Union is not more interested in the relations between the two countries than France, we have recalled Comrade Suritz from the post of ambassador to France.

Or take such instances of hostility toward the USSR as the seizure by British warships in the Far East of two of our steamers proceeding to Vladivostok with goods purchased by us in America and China. If to this we add such facts as the refusal to fulfill old orders for industrial machinery placed by us in England, attachment of the funds of our trade representation in France, and many others, the hostile nature of the actions of the British and French authorities with regard to the Soviet Union becomes still more manifest.

Attempts have been to justify these hostile acts toward our foreign trade on the grounds that by trading with Germany, we are helping her in the war against England and France. It does not take much to see that these arguments are not worth a brass farthing. One has only to compare the USSR, say, with Rumania. It is known that trade with Germany makes up half of Rumania's total foreign trade and that, moreover, the share of Rumania's national production in her exports to Germany of such basic commodities as oil products and grain, for example, far exceeds the share of the national production of the USSR in our exports to Germany. Nevertheless, the Governments of Great Britain and France do not resort to hostile acts toward Rumania and do not think it possible to demand that Rumania cease trading with Germany. Quite different is their attitude toward the Soviet Union. Hence, the hostile acts of England and France toward the Soviet Union are to be explained, not by the fact that the USSR is trading with Germany, but by the fact the plans of the British and French ruling circles to utilize our country in the war against Germany have been frustrated and, as a result, they are pursuing a policy of revenge toward the Soviet Union.

It should be added that England and France have resorted to all these hostile actions even though the Soviet Union has so far not undertaken any unfriendly actions with regard to these countries. As to the fantastic plans attributed to the Soviet Union of marches by the Red Army "on India," "on the East," and the like, they are such obvious absurdities that one must completely lose one's senses to believe such absurd lies. (Laughter.) This is not the point, of course. The point evidently is that the policy of neutrality pursued by the Soviet Union is not to the liking of the British and French ruling circles. What is more, their nerves do no seem to be quite in order. (Laughter.) They want to force us to adopt a different policy - a policy of enmity and war against Germany, a policy which would afford them an opportunity to utilize the USSR for their imperialist aims. It is time that these gentry understood that the Soviet Union never has been and never will be a tool of the policy of others, that the USSR has always pursued its own policy and and will always pursue it, irrespective of whether these gentry in other countries like it or not. (Stormy, prolonged applause.)

I shall now pass on to the Finnish question.

What was the meaning of the war that took place in Finland during the past three-odd months? As you know, the meaning of these events lay in the necessity of safeguarding the security of the northwestern frontiers of the Soviet Union and, above all, of safeguarding the security of Leningrad.

Throughout October and November of last year the Soviet Government conducted negotiations with the Finnish Government concerning proposals whose realization, in view of the existing international situation which was growing more and more heated, we considered absolutely essential and urgent for safeguarding the security of our country, and especially, of Leningrad. Nothing came of these negotiations in view of the unfriendly attitude adopted by the Finnish representatives. Decision of the issue passed to the field of war. It may safely be said that if Finland had not been subject to foreign influences, if Finland had been less incited by certain third states to adopt a hostile policy toward the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union and Finland would already have arrived at a peaceful understanding last autumn and matters would have been settled without war. But in spite of the fact that the Soviet government reduced its requests to a minimum, a settlement could not be reached by diplomatic means.

Now that hostilities in Finland have ceased, and the Peace Treaty Between the USSR and the Republic of Finland has been signed, it is necessary and possible to judge the significance of the war in Finland in the light of incontrovertible facts. And these facts speak for themselves. They show that in the neighborhood of Leningrad, all over the Karelian Isthmus to a depth of 50 to 60 km., the Finnish authorities had erected numerous powerful reinforced concrete, and granite and earth fortifications armed with artillery and machine guns. The number of these fortifications ran into many hundreds. Connected by underground passages, surrounded by anti-tank trenches and granite anti-tank obstacles, and supported by countless mine fields, these fortifications - especially the reinforced concrete structures - which had a high degree of military strength, together constituted what was known as the Mannerheim Line, built under the supervision of foreign experts on the model of the Maginot Line and Siegfried Line. It should be mentioned that these fortifications were considered until recently impregnable, that is, such as no army had ever broken through before. It should also be mentioned that Finnish military authorities had endeavored beforehand to convert every little village in this area into a fortified position supplied with arms, radio antennas and fueling stations, etc. In many parts of South and East Finland strategic railways and highways of no economic importance whatever had been built, leading right up to our frontier.

In short, the hostilities in Finland have shown that already by 1939 Finland, and especially the Karelian Isthmus, had been converted into a place d'armes ready for an attack by third powers on the Soviet Union, for an attack on Leningrad.

Incontrovertible facts have shown that the hostile policy which we encountered on the part of Finland last autumn was no fortuitous thing. Forces hostile to the Soviet Union had prepared in Finland such a place d'armes against our country and, in the first place against Leningrad, that, in the event of certain foreign situation unfavorable to the USSR, would play its part in the plans of the anti-Soviet forces of the imperialists and their allies in Finland.

Not only has the Red Army smashed the Mannerheim Line, thereby covering itself with the glory as the first army to force its way under most difficult conditions through a deep powerful zone of completely modern military fortifications, not only has the Red Army together with the Red Navy destroyed the Finnish place d'armes that had been prepared for an attack on Leningrad, but it has also put an end to certain anti-Soviet plans which some third countries had been hatching during the last few years. (Prolonged applause.)

How far the enmity toward our country on the part of the Finnish ruling and military circles, who had prepared a place d'armes against the USSR, had gone, is also seen from the numerous cases of exceptionally barbarous atrocities perpetrated by the Finnish Whites on wounded Red Army men who had fallen into their hands. For example, when, in one of the districts to the north of Lake Ladoga, the Finns surrounded our hospital dugouts where 120 severely wounded men were lying, the White Finns killed them all to a man. Some were burned, others were found with shattered skulls, while the rest had been bayoneted or shot. In addition to mortal wounds, a large number of the men who died there and in other places were found to have been shot in the head or finished off with rifle butts, while some of the men who had been shot were found to have knife stabs in the face. Some of the corpses had been beheaded and the heads could not be found. And for our medical nurses who fell into the hands of the Finnish Whites, they were subjected to special atrocities and incredible brutalities. In some cases corpses were found tied to trees, head down. All these barbarities and countless atrocities were a fruit of the policy of the Finnish whiteguards, who endeavoured to fan hatred toward our country among their people.

Such is the true face of these Finnish champions of "western civilization".

It is not difficult to see that the war in Finland was not merely an encounter with Finnish troops. No, the matter was more complicated than that. It was not merely Finnish troops that our troops encountered, but the combined forces of the imperialists of a number of countries, including British, French and others, who assisted the Finnish bourgeoisie with every form of weapon, especially artillery and aircraft, as well as with their men in the guise of "volunteers", with gold and every kind of supplies, and with their frenzied propaganda all over the world for the purpose of kindling a war against the Soviet Union in every way. To this should be added that amidst this furious howling of the enemies of the Soviet Union, always loudest of all were the squealing voices of all those prostituted "Socialists" of the Second International (lively animation in the hall), all those Attlees and Blums, Citrines and Jouhaux, Tranmaels and Höglunds - all those lackeys of capital who have sold themselves body and soul to the warmongers.

Speaking in the Commons on March 19, Chamberlain, the British Premier, not only expressed his malicious regret at having failed to prevent the termination of the war in Finland, thus turning his "peace-loving" imperialist soul inside out for all the world to see (laughter), but also presented something in the nature of a account how and in what way the British imperialists had endeavoured to help fan the war in Finland against the Soviet Union. He made public a list of war materials that had been promised and dispatched to Finland: 152 airplanes were promised, 101 were sent; 223 guns were promised, 114 were sent; 297,000 shells were promised, 185,000 were sent; 100 Vickers guns were promised, 100 were sent; 20,700 aircraft bombs were promised, 15,700 sent; 20,000 anti-tank mines were promised, 10,000 were sent, and so on. Without the least embarrassment, Chamberlain stated: "Preparations for an expedition were carried on with all rapidity and at the beginning of March an expeditionary force of 100,000 men was ready to leave - two month before the date Mannerheim had asked for it to arrive. This was not necessarily the last force."

Such, on his own admission, is the true face of this "peace loving" British imperialist.

As for France, we learn from the French press that she dispatched to Finland 179 airplanes, 472 guns, 795,000 shells, 5,100 machine guns, 200,000 hand grenades etc. On March 11 Daladier, then French Premier, declared in the Chamber of Deputies: "France has taken the lead of the countries that agreed to supply munitions to Finland, and in particular, at a request from Helsinki she has just dispatched ultra-modern bombing planes to Finland." Daladier announced: "A French expeditionary corps has stood ready and equipped since Feb. 26." A large number of vessels has been ready to sail from two large ports in the channel and on the Atlantic coast. He further declared that the Allies "would help Finland with all the forces promised."

These hostile statements toward the Soviet Union by Daladier speak for themselves. However, there is no need to dwell upon these hostile utterances, as it is apparent that they no longer reveal a fully sober mind. (Lively animation in the hall.)

Mention should also be made of Sweden's part in the Finnish war. From reports printed in all the Swedish newspapers, during the war against the Soviet Union Sweden supplied Finland "a certain quantity of aircraft roughly equal to one-fifth of Sweden's total air force at that time." The Swedish War Minister stated that the Finns had received from Sweden 84,000 rifles, 575 machine guns, over 300 pieces of artillery, 300,000 grenades, 50,000,000 cartridges. All this material, as the minister declared, was of the very latest design.

Nor was Italy behindhand in her efforts to fan the war in Finland. She, for example, dispatched 50 military planes to Finland.

Finland also received military aid from such a devotee of "peace" as the United States of America. (General laughter.)

According to incomplete information at our disposal, the total munitions of all kinds sent to Finland by other countries only during the war amounted to no less than 350 airplanes, about 1,500 guns, over 6,000 machine guns, about 100,000 rifles, 650,000 hand grenades, 2,500,000 shells, 160,000,000 cartridges, and much else.

There is no need to cite other facts to show that what was going on in Finland was not merely our collision with the Finnish troops. It was a collision with the combined forces of a number of imperialist states most hostile toward the Soviet Union. By smashing these combined forces of the enemies, the Red Army and the Red Navy have added another glorious page to their history and have shown that the source of valor, self-sacrifice and heroism among our people is inexhaustible. (Stormy applause.)

The war in Finland has exacted heavy sacrifices both from us and from the Finns. According to estimates of our General Staff, on our side the number of killed and those who died from wounds was 48,745, i.e., slightly less than 49,000, and the number of wounded, 158,863. Attempts are being made on the Finnish side to minimize their losses, but their casualties were considerably bigger than ours. According to the minimum estimates of our General Staff, the number of Finnish killed is not less than 60,000, not counting those who died from wounds, and the number of wounded is not less than 250,000. Thus, proceeding from the fact that the Finnish army numbered not less than 600,000 men, it must be recognized that the Finnish army lost more than half its strength in killed or wounded.

Such are the facts.

The question remains, why the ruling circles of England and France, and of several other countries too, took such an active part in this war on the side of Finland against the Soviet Union. It is well known that the Governments of Great Britain and France made desperate efforts to prevent the termination of the war and the restoration of peace in Finland, although they were not bound by any obligations toward Finland. It is also well known that some time ago, even though there existed a pact of mutual assistance between France and Czechoslovakia, France did not come to the aid of Czechoslovakia. Yet both France and England positively forced their military aid upon Finland, doing the best they could to prevent the termination of the war and the restoration of peace between Finland and the Soviet Union. Hired pen pirates, scribes who specialize in fraudulent news and hoaxes, are trying to attribute this conduct of the Anglo-French circles to their particular solicitude for "small nations." But to attribute this policy of England and France to their particular solicitude for the interests of small countries is simply ridiculous. To attribute it to their obligations toward the League of Nations, which, it is alleged, demanded protection for one of its members, is also quite absurd.

In fact, it was hardly a year ago that Italy seized and destroyed independent Albania, who was a member of the League of Nations. Well? Did England and France come to Albania's defence? Did they even raise a feeble voice in protest against Italy's predatory action in forcibly subjugating Albania without least regard for her population of over one million, and completely ignoring the fact that Albania was a member of the League of Nations? No, neither the Governments of Great Britain or France, nor the United States of America, nor the League of Nations, which had lost every vestige of prestige because it is dominated by these very Anglo-French imperialists, even lifted a finger in this case. For 12 whole months these "protectors" of small nations, these "champions" of the rights of members of the League of Nations have not dared to raise the question of Italy's seizure of Albania, although it occurred last April. More, they have virtually sanctioned this seizure. Consequently, it is not protection of small nations or not protection of the rights of members of the League of Nation that explain the support rendered Finland by the ruling circles in England and France against the Soviet Union. This assistance is to be explained by the fact that in Finland the ruling circles of England and France had a place d'armes ready for an attack upon the USSR, whereas Albania did not occupy such a place in their plans. As a matter of fact, the rights and interests of small countries are just so much small change in the hands of imperialists.

"The Times", leading newspaper of the British imperialists, and "Le Temps", leading newspaper of the French imperialists, not to mention the other British or French bourgeois newspapers, have openly been calling during these past months for an intervention against the Soviet Union without the least regard for the fact that the so-called normal diplomatic relations exist between Great Britain and France, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union, on the other. In step with these leading bourgeois newspapers, and even a little ahead of them, are the speeches from the servants' hall that has now been instituted in every "respectable" bourgeois state for "Socialists" of the type Attlee in England and Blum in France, who are doing their utmost to fan and spread the flames of the war. In the utterances of the Anglo-French imperialist press and of its "Socialist" henchmen, we hear he voice of infuriated imperialism, which hates the Socialist state and with which we have been familiar from the first days of the Soviet Union. As far back as April 17, 1919, the British "Times" wrote:

"If we look at a map we shall find that the best approach to Petrograd is from the Baltic and that the shortest and easiest route is through Finland, whose frontiers are only about 30 miles distant from the Russian capital. Finland is the key to Petrograd, and Petrograd is the key to Moscow".

If proofs were needed that the British and French imperialists have not yet discarded these hare-brained plans, the recent events in Finland have dispelled all doubt on this score. These plans were again thwarted, not because of a lack of zeal on the part of anti-Soviet forces in England and France, and not merely because at the last moment the leading circles of Finland, and also in Sweden and Norway, finally showed some common sense. These plans were thwarted by the brilliant successes of the Red Army, particularly on the Karelian Isthmus. (Applause.) But we shall not forget, that recent events have reminded us all of the necessity of continuing steadily to increase the might of our Red Army and of all defenses of our country. (Stormy and prolonged applause.)

At the beginning of February the Finns made practical moves for the termination of the war in Finland. We learned through the Swedish Government that the Finnish Government desired to ascertain our terms upon which the war could be brought to a close. Before deciding this question, we approached the People's Democratic Government of Finland* for their opinion on this question. The People's Government expressed the view that in order to put an end to the bloodshed and to alleviate the condition of the people of Finland the proposal to terminate the war should be welcomed. We thereupon proposed our terms, which were accepted soon after by the Finnish Government. I must add that a week after the negotiations with the Finns, the British Government also expressed a desire to ascertain whether there was any possibility of mediation, ostensibly with the object of stopping the war in Finland. (Laughter.) But when Comrade Maisky, our ambassador in England, informed London of our proposals, which were subsequently adopted in their entirety by Finland, the British Government did not wish to cooperate in stopping the war and restoring peace between the USSR and Finland. Nevertheless, an agreement was soon reached between the USSR and Finland. The results of the agreement to terminate hostilities and establish peace are contained in the Peace Treaty signed on March 12. In this onnection, the question arouse of the People's Government dissolving itself, which it did.

You are familiar with the terms of the Peace Treaty. This Treaty has changed the southern and, partly, the eastern frontiers of Finland. The whole Karelian Isthmus, together with Vyborg (Finn. Viipuri) and Vyborg Bay, the whole western and northern shore of Lake Ladoga, Kexholm (Finn. Käkisalmi, now Priozersk - the names in parenthesis added here) and Sortavala have passed to the Soviet Union. In the region of Kandalaksha, where the Finnish frontier approached particularly close to the Murmansk Railway, the frontier has been pushed farther back. Finland has ceded to the Soviet Union small sections of the Sredniy (Finn. Keskisaarento) and Rybachy (Finn. Kalastajasaarento) peninsulas, which belonged to her in the North, and a certain group of islands in the Gulf of Finland, together with Hogland Island (Finn. Suursaari). In addition, the Soviet Union has acquired on a 30-year lease, in return for an annual payment of 8,000,000 Finnish marks, Hanko Peninsula, and the adjacent islands, where we shall build our naval base as protection against aggression at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. Furthermore, the Treaty facilitates the transit of goods for Sweden, Norway and the Soviet Union. At the same time, the Peace Treaty provides for mutual abstention from aggression and from participation in hostile coalitions.

Attempts have been made in the British and French press to depict the Soviet-Finnish treaty and, particularly, the transfer of the Karelian Isthmus to the Soviet Union, as the "destruction" of the independence of Finland. This, of course, is absurd and downright falsehood! Finland still comprises a territory nearly four times as large as Hungary and over eight times as large as Switzerland. If no one has any doubt that Hungary and Switzerland are independent states, how can there be any doubt that Finland is independent and sovereign?

The very same British and French press wrote that the Soviet Union wants to convert Finland into a mere Baltic state. That, too, is absurd. It is sufficient to point to the fact that, after having occupied the region of Petsamo (now Pechenga) on the Arctic coast during the war, the USSR voluntarily restored this region to Finland, considering it necessary to let Finland have an ice-free ocen port. From this it follows that we regard Finland as a northern, and not merely a Baltic, country.

The truth is not contained in these fabrications of the British and French newspapers, which are old hands in the art of forgery in their anti-Soviet propaganda. The truth lies elsewhere; it is that the Soviet Union, having smashed the Finnish army and having every opportunity of occupying the whole of Finland, did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for its expenditures in the war, as any other power would have done, but confined its desires to the minimum and displayed magnanimity toward Finland.

What is the basic idea of the Peace Treaty? It is that it properly insures the security of Leningrad and of Murmansk and the Murmansk Railway. This time we could not confine ourselves merely to the desires we expressed last autumn, acceptance of which by Finland would have averted war. After the blood of our soldiers had been spilt through no fault of our own and after we had became convinced that the hostile policy of the Finnish Government toward the Soviet Union had gone very far indeed, we were obliged to put the question of the security of Leningrad on a more reliable basis and, moreover, to raise the question of the security of Murmansk Railway and Murmansk, which is our only ice-free ocean port in the West, and is, therefore, of extreme importance for our foreign trade and for communication between the Soviet Union and other countries generally. We pursued no other object in the Peace Treaty than that of safeguarding the security of Leningrad, Murmansk and the Murmansk Railway. But we considered it necessary to settle this problem reliably and durably. The Peace Treaty is based on recognition of the principle that Finland is an independent state, recognition of the independence of her home and foreign policy and, at the same time, the necessity to safeguarding the security of Leningrad and the northwestern frontiers of the Soviet Union.

Thus, we have achieved the object we set ourselves, and we may express our complete satisfaction with the treaty with Finland. (Applause.)

Political and economic relations with Finland are now fully restored. The Government expresses the conviction that normal and good neighborly relations will develop between the Soviet Union and Finland.

We must, however, utter a warning against the attempts to violate the Peace Treaty just concluded, that are already being made by certain circles in Finland, as well as in Sweden and Norway, under the pretext of forming a military-defensive alliance of these countries. In the light of the speech recently delivered by Mr. Hambro, president of the Norwegian Storting, in which, referring to historical examples, he called upon Finland "to reconquer the frontiers of the country" and declared that a peace like the one Finland has concluded with the USSR, "cannot last for long" - in the light of this and similar utterances, it is easy to understand that attempts to form a so-called "defensive alliance" of Finland, Sweden and Norway are directed against the USSR and are unwisely fostered by the ideology of military revanche. The formation of a military alliance of this kind with participation of Finland would not only run counter to Article 3 of the Peace Treaty, which forbids either of the contracting parties to join any coalitions (alliances) hostile to the other, but to the Peace Treaty as a whole, which firmly defined the Soviet-Finnish frontier. Loyalty to this Treaty is incompatible with Finland's participation in any alliance for military revanche against the Soviet Union. As for the participation of Sweden and Norway in such an alliance, that would simply imply that these countries has abandoned their policy of neutrality and had adopted a new foreign policy, from which the Soviet Union could not but draw proper conclusions.

Our Government, on its part, considers that the Soviet Union has no points of dispute with Sweden and Norway and, that Soviet-Swedish and Soviet-Norwegian relations should develop on the basis of friendship. As to the rumors that the Soviet Union is demanding ports on the west coast of Scandinavia, claiming Narwik, etc., these rumors, spread for anti-Soviet purposes, are so wild that they need no refutation. The efforts of "Socialist" gentry like Höglund in Sweden and Tranmael in Norway to spoil relations between these countries and the Soviet Union can only be branded as the handiwork of sworn enemies of the working class who have been bought by foreign capitalists and are betraying the interests of their own people.

The conclusion of the Peace Treaty with Finland consummates the task we set ourselves last year of safeguarding the security of the Soviet Union in the direction of the Baltic. This Treaty is a necessary complement to the three pacts of mutual assistance concluded with Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Our experience during the six months that have elapsed since these pacts of mutual assistance were concluded, enables us to draw very definite positive conclusions concerning these treaties with the Baltic countries. It must be admitted that the treaties concluded by the Soviet Union with Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania have served to strengthen the international position both of the Soviet Union and of Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In spite of the scare raised by the imperialist circles hostile to the Soviet Union, the state and political independence of Esthonia, Latvia or Lithuania has not suffered in any way, while the economic intercourse between these countries and the Soviet Union has begun markedly to increase. The pacts with Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania are being carried out in satisfactory manner and this creates premises for a further improvement in relations between the Soviet Union and these states.

Recently the foreign press has been devoting particularly great attention to the relations between the Soviet Union and its neighbours on the southern borders, especially on the Transcaucasian border, and Rumania. Needless to say, the Government sees no grounds for any deterioration in our relations with our southern neighbours, either. True, in Syria and, in the Near East generally, extensive and suspicious activity is on foot in the creation of the Anglo-French, mainly colonial, armies headed by General Weygand. We must exercise vigilance in regard to attempts to utilize these colonial and non-colonial troops for purposes hostile to the Soviet Union. Any such attempt would evoke on our part counter-measures against the aggressors, and the danger of playing with fire in this way must be perfectly obvious to the powers hostile to the USSR and to those of our neighbours, who would become tools of this aggressive policy against the USSR. (Applause.) As to our relations with Turkey and Iran, they are determined by our existing pacts of non-aggression and by an unswerving desire of the Soviet Union for observance of the mutual obligations arising out of them. Our relations with Iran in the economic sphere are regulated by the Soviet-Iranian trade agreement that has just been concluded.

Of the southern neighboring states I have mentioned, Rumania is the one with which we have no pact of non-aggression. This is due to the existence of a dispute that has not been settled, the fact that there exists a non-settled controversial issue, the question of Bessarabia, whose seizure by Rumania the Soviet Union has never recognised, although it has never raised the question of recovering Bessarabia by military means. Hence, there are no grounds for any deterioration in Soviet-Rumanian relations. True, it is now some time since we had a minister in Rumania, and his duties are being performed by a chargé d'affaires. But this has been due to specific circumstances of the recent past. If we are to deal with this question, we have to recall the dubious role played by the Rumanian authorities in 1938 in relation to Butenko, who was then Soviet acting minister in Rumania. It is well known that the latter disappeared in some mysterious way not only from the legation but from Rumania as well; and to this day the Soviet Government has been unable to obtain any authentic information about his disappearance, and, what is more, we are expected to believe that the Rumanian authorities had nothing to do with this scandalous and criminal affair. Needless to say, things like this should not happen in a civilized state, or in any well-ordered country for that matter. After this, the reason for delay in appointing a Soviet minister to Rumania will be clear. It is to be assumed, however, that Rumania will understand that such things are not to be tolerated.

In our relations with Japan we have, not without some difficulty, settled several questions. This is evidenced by the conclusion on Dec. 31 last of the Soviet-Japanese fisheries convention for the current year and also by Japan's consent to pay the last installment for the Chinese-Eastern Railway, which she withheld for a long time. Nevertheless, we cannot express great satisfaction with our relations with Japan. To this day, for example, notwithstanding prolonged negotiations between Soviet-Mongolian and Japano-Manchurian delegates, the important question of determining the frontier line on the territory, in the area of the military conflict of last year has remained unsettled. The Japanese authorities continue to raise obstacles to normal utilization of the last installment for the Chinese-Eastern Railway, which Japan has paid. In many cases the treatment of the employees of Soviet organizations in Japan and Manchuria by the Japanese authorities is quite abnormal. It is time that it were realized in Japan that the Soviet Union will under no circumstances tolerate any infringement of its interests. (Prolonged applause.) Only if Soviet-Japanese relations are understood in this way, can they develop satisfactorily.

In connection with Japan, I will say a word or two on one, so to speak, unbusiness-like proposal. (Lively animation in the hall.) The other day a member of the Japanese parliament put the following question to his government: "Ought we not to consider how to put an end once and for all to conflicts between the USSR and Japan, as, for example, by purchasing the Maritime Region and other territories." (Roar of laughter.) The Japanese deputy, who put this question and is interested in the purchase of Soviet territory, which is not for sale (laughter), must be a jovial fellow, to say the least. (Laughter, applause.) But in my opinion his stupid questions will not help to raise the prestige of his parliament. (Laughter.) If, however, the Japanese parliament is so keen on trading, why should not its members raise the question of selling South Sakhalin. (Laughter, prolonged applause.) I have no doubt that purchasers would be found in the USSR. (Laughter, applause.)

As regards our relations with the United States of America they have not grown any better lately, nor, for that matter, have they grown any worse, if we do not count the so-called "moral embargo" against the USSR, which is perfectly meaningless, especially after the conclusion of peace between the USSR and Finland. Our imports from the United States have increased as compared with last year; they might have increased still more if American authorities did not put obstacles in the way.

Such, on the whole, is the international situation in connection with the events of the past five months.

From all that I have said, the main tasks of our foreign policy in the present international situation will be clear.

Stated briefly, the task of our foreign policy is to insure peace between nations and the security of our country. The conclusion that must be drawn from this is that we must maintain a position of neutrality and refrain from participating in the war between the big European powers. This position is based on the treaties we have concluded, and it fully corresponds to the interests of the Soviet Union. At the same time, this position serves as restraining influence on the further extension and instigation of war in Europe, and it is, therefore, in the interests of all nations that are anxious for peace and are already groaning under the enormous burden of privations caused by the war.

In summing up the events of this past period, we see that we have achieved no mean successes as regards safeguarding the security of our country in this period. And it is this that makes our enemies furious. Confident, however, in our cause and in our strength, we will continue consistently and unswervingly our foreign policy. (Stormy, prolonged applause throughout the hall. The deputies rise.)


*) The People's Democratic Government of Finland. A puppet government, comprised mainly of Finnish emigré communists and headed by O.V. Kuusinen, set up on Dec. 1, 1939, in Moscow and setting its seat in the recently seized Finnish territory at Terijoki (now Zelenogorsk)

Source: Weekly Soviet newspaper "Moscow News", published by Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga, Moscow, April 1, 1940.

The British ambassador comments the speech to the British Foreign Office

The Winter War | Finland in Soviet foreign policy 1939-1940. | Finland in Great Power politics 1939-1940.