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217 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 86 CANBERRA, 9 June 1943


Your telegrams S.88 [1], S.89 [2] and S.122. [3]

I have read these telegrams with great interest and appreciate the importance of the issues raised. As I see it essential Australian interests in this matter are:-

(a) Assurance of continued Soviet participation in the war and Soviet co-operation in post-war reconstruction.

(b) Assurance that the defeat of Germany will mean the stabilisation of Europe.

(2) In pursuing these aims it is necessary to view Soviet policy realistically and to take account of facts as they are.

One of these facts is the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, to which it is known the Russians attach high importance and which should be the basis of British policy towards the Soviet Union.

(3) Further, Soviet policy is governed mainly by consideration of political and strategical advantage, and the Soviet Union will continue to co-operate with the Western Powers just so long as, and to the extent to which, its interests are served.

(4) For this reason I think the time has gone past when Soviet cooperation in Europe could be enlisted by any further general, or in your term, imaginative, declaration. The Soviet Union is already party to more than one broad declaration of this kind, including the United Nations Declaration, the Atlantic Charter, and the pronouncements contained in the Mutual Aid Agreements with the United States.

In addition, Soviet co-operation has been sought in the frankest terms on such major specific matters as post-war relief and post- war monetary policy, and this process will certainly be followed in other questions as they arise, for example, post-war civil aviation.

The Soviet Government is thus receiving and will continue to receive the fullest opportunity for co-operation with the Western Powers and I think that a further general declaration, as suggested by you, would not now influence its policy beneficially and might in fact have the opposite result.

(5) This being so, I consider that the problem of future stability in Eastern Europe is one for solution on the basis of factual conditions at the termination of the war in Europe. Some of these are already clearly emerging.

I regard the arguments in Dominions Office telegram D.319 [4] against raising the matter of frontiers with the Poli[sh] Government at present as perfectly sound. At the same time, I think the realistic view must be that there should be at earliest opportune moment an intimation to the Soviet Government that after the war British good offices will be available for a settlement of this question in a manner which will satisfy legitimate U.S.S.R.

aspirations and ensure the security not only of Russia but of Europe generally. In other words, the Poles will have to learn the realistic lesson which the Czechs have already learned, namely, that their destiny is inevitably that of a State within the Soviet sphere of influence.

(6) It is my impression that the Soviet Government itself is anxious to prevent the Polish-Soviet dispute from impairing its relations with the United Kingdom. The best policy for the time being would appear to be patient efforts to repair the Polish- Soviet breach without, at the moment, raising the frontier question, and to further the development of closer relations with the Soviet Government by encouraging the Russians to enter into confidential discussions on the other important questions now facing the United Nations, above all the formulation of a system of security.

(7) In substance I view with doubt any discussions having for their purport a semi-secret understanding with the Soviet about European partitioning on the lines of the Italian arrangements in the last war. And therefore I consider that we should treat Russia as a powerful Ally bound by the same general considerations which we put openly to the world.

1 Document 183.

2 See Document 183, note 4.

3 This appears to refer to Bruce's cablegram S112 of 1 June on file AA:M100, June 1943. Bruce argued that 'an imaginative concept of post-war security and political organisation which would remove from smaller nations the fear of aggression' would assuage Polish fears and encourage their acquiescence in a border adjustment.

This in turn would encourage Soviet involvement in post-war co- operation with the Western allies.

4 Dispatched 28 May. On file AA:A989, 43/715/5/2, i.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History