Translation.Monsieur le Ministre,
The Finnish Government's reply to the note from the Government of the U.S.S.R., dated November 26th, 1939, is a document which reflects the deep-rooted hostility of the Finnish Government towards the U.S.S.R. and is the cause of extreme tension in the relations between the two countries.
1)The fact that the Finnish Government deny that Finnish troops opened artillery fire on Soviet troops and caused casualties can be explained only by a desire to mislead public opinion and make light of those casualties. Nothing but a lack of responsibility and disdain for public opinion can account for the attempt to explain away this reprehensible incident by alleging firing practice by the Soviet artillery on the actual frontier-line within sight of Finnish troops.
2)The refusal of the Finnish Government to withdraw the troops who committed this hostile act of firing on Soviet troops, and the demand of that Government for the simultaneous withdrawal of the Finnish and Soviet troops, a demand which would appear to be based on the principle of equality, reveals clearly the hostile desire of the Finnish Government to expose Leningrad to danger. There can, indeed, be no question of equality in the situation of the Finnish and Soviet troops. The Soviet troops do not constitute a menace to Finland's vital centres, as these troops are posted hundreds of kilometres away from such places, whereas the Finnish troops, stationed at a distance of 32 kilometres from Leningrad - a vital centre of the U.S.S.R., with a population of 3½ million - menace that town directly. It is needless to stress the fact that actually the Soviet troops cannot be withdrawn anywhere, since their withdrawal to a distance of 20-25 kilometres from the frontier would mean that they would have to be posted in the suburbs of Leningrad, which would be absurd from the point of view of the safety of that city. The proposal of the Government of the U.S.S.R. that the Finnish troops should be withdrawn to beyond a distance of 20-25 kilometres from the frontier represents a minimum, since it is not designed to create equality of situation as between the Finnish and Soviet troops, but simply to attenuate the disproportion that now exists. If the Finnish Government refuse to accept this minimum proposal, it means that it is their intention that Leningrad should remain under a direct threat from their troops.
3)In concentrating a large number of regular troops in the immediate vicinity of Leningrad and subjecting that important vital centre of the U.S.S.R. to a direct threat, the Finnish Government have committed a hostile act against the U.S.S.R. which is incompatible with the Treaty of Non-Aggression concluded between the two States. The refusal of the Finnish Government, after the criminal artillery fire directed at the Soviet troops, to withdraw their troops a distance of 20-25 kilometres shows that the Finnish Government desire to persist in their hostile attitude towards the U.S.S.R., that they have no intention of complying with the provisions of the Treaty of Non-Aggression and that they have decided to keep Leningrad under a perpetual menace. The Government of the U.S.S.R. cannot, however, admit that one of the parties should be allowed to violate the Treaty of Non-Aggression, while the other party respects it. In consequence, the Government of the U.S.S.R. are obliged to state that they consider themselves, as from to-day, released from the obligations ensuing from the Treaty of Non-Aggression concluded between the U.S.S.R. and Finland, obligations which are being systematically violated by the Finnish Government.
[Accept, M. le Ministre, the assurance of my high consideration.
People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR V.] Molotov.
Russian text available at the "Mainila section" of the Environments of St. Petersburg server
The first Mainila note (November 26). Yrjö-Koskinen's next-day reply (November 27). Molotov's November 28 reply above. Yrjö-Koskinen's November 29 reply.
Finland in the Soviet foreign policy 1939-1940
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