207 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram D947 LONDON, 29 June 1944, 7 p.m.


Following recent constitutional changes in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Commissars for Foreign Affairs have been appointed for the Ukrainian, Byelo-Russian and other constituent Republics of the Soviet Union.

2. The United Kingdom Ambassador, at Moscow, thinks it possible that we may at some stage be faced with a definite request from the Soviet Government to appoint a separate representative to the Ukraine, and we have accordingly been considering what should be our attitude in that event.

3. It may be that the Soviet Government may seek to draw a parallel between the new position in foreign affairs of the constituent Soviet Republics and the position of the Dominions. It has, of course, already been explained in the memorandum handed to the Soviet Charge d'Affaires in London [1], of which a copy was enclosed in my circular Despatch D.No. 79 of the 3rd September, 1943 [2], that there is no such resemblance. If an analogy to the position of the Union Republics is to be sought, it is to be found not in the British Commonwealth, but in the German Reich as it existed between 1870 and 1918, where some of the constituent states were allowed to exercise a certain limited control in foreign affairs and in army matters, and for that purpose received and appointed diplomatic representatives.

4. We feel, however, that it would be difficult indefinitely to withhold recognition of the International status of the 16 constituent Republics. If the U.S.S.R. is determined on this development of its International position, it would probably be impossible to pursuade all the United Nations to stand firm in refusing recognition, and once one country accorded recognition the others would follow and our position, if we stood out, would cause great resentment in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

5. At the same time, we see no advantage in hastening such recognition. Moreover, there would be difficulties in regard to the immediate establishment of separate United Kingdom representatives in the Ukraine for three reasons:-

(a) We might find ourselves being represented as having recognised the Ukrainian Republic's claim to parts of Eastern Poland. Since the claimed territory would be only a small proportion of the total territory of the Republic, such a contention would not be good in law. Nevertheless, the situation might be embarrassing.

(b) If we established separate representatives in the Ukraine, the Soviet Government might apply pressure publicly to induce us to do the same for the Byelo-Russian Republic which claims parts of Eastern Poland, amounting to approximately as much territory as the whole pre-1939 extent of the Republic.

(c) The Baltic States Republics might put in similar requests for representatives, when freed from the Germans, which if granted would involve recognition of incorporation of the Baltic States in the Soviet Union.

6. In all the circumstances, we suggest that it should be our aim to try to postpone the question of recognition of the 16 constituent Republics until the peace settlement. We should, however, be grateful to learn the views of the Dominion Governments on the matter.

7. If the Dominion Governments agree with the line proposed above, we would suggest that all the British Commonwealth Governments should keep each other informed of any Russian move bearing on this matter. We should also propose to inform the United States Government and ask them to keep in contact with us on the subject.

We would also suggest that the various representatives in Moscow should be instructed to exchange information on it.

8. We should be grateful for the comments of the Dominion Governments as soon as convenient.

1 A. A. Sobolev.

2 On file AA:A989, 43/735/580. See also cablegram D586 of 24 August 1943 on the same file.

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