Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of State Robert M. Lansing to United States Ambassador to Russia David R. Francis

PARAPHRASE AND OPEN.

              Telegram received from Department of

          State, signed Lansing, and dated August 3, 1918.

             

     A copy of the following statement has been given to the Press and to the British Ambassador:1

     “In the judgment of the Government of the United States a judgment arrived at after repeated and very searching considerations of the whole situation military intervention in Russia would be more likely to add to the present sad confusion there than to cure it, and would injure Russia rather than help her out of her distresses. Such military intervention as has been most frequently proposed even supposing it to be efficacious in its immediate object of delivering an attack upon Germany from the East, would in its judgment be more likely it (?to) turn out to be merely a method of making use of Russia than to be a method of serving her. Her people if they pro<fitted> by it at all could not profit by it in time to deliver them from their present desperate difficulties and their substance would meantime be used to maintain foreign armies not to reconstitute their own or to feed their own men, women and children. We are bending all our energies now to the purpose, the resolute and confident purpose of winning on the Western front, and it would in the judgement of the Government of the United States, be most unwise to divide or dissipate our forces as the Government of the United States sees the present circumstances, therefore, action is admissible in Russia now only to render such protection and help as is possible to the Czecho-Slovaks against the armed Austrian and German prisoners who are attacking them and to steady any efforts at self-government or self-defense in which the Russians themselves may be willing to accept assistance, whether from Vladivostok or from Murmansk and Archangel. The only present object for which American troops will be employed will be to guard military stores which may be subsequently needed by Russian forces and to render such aid as may be acceptable to the Russians in the organization of their own self-defense. With such objects in view the Government of the United States is now co-operating with the Governments of France and Great Britain in the neighbourhood of Murmansk and Archangel. The United States and Japan are the only powers which are just now in a position to act in Siberia in sufficient force to accomplish even such modest objects as those that have been outlined. The Government of the United States has, therefore, proposed to the Government of Japan that each of the two Governments send a force of a few thousand men to Vladivostok with the purpose of co-operating as a single force in the occupation of Vladivostock and in safe-guarding so far as it may the country to the rear of the westward – moving Czecho-Slovaks, and the Jap<a>nese Government has consented in taking this action. The Government of the United States wishes to announce to the people of Russia in the most public and solemn manner that it contemplates no interference with the political sovereignty of Russia, no intervention in her internal affairs, not in (?) the even affairs of the limited areas which her military force may be obliged to occupy and no impairment of her territorial integrity either now or hereafter, but that what we are about to do has as its single and only object the rendering of such aid as shall be acceptable to the Russian people themselves in their endeavors to regain control of their own affairs, their own territory and their own destiny. The Japanese Government it is understood will issue a similar assurance. These plans and purposes of the Government of the United States have been communicated to the Governments of Great Britain, France and Italy and those Governments have advised the Department of State that they assent to them in principle. No conclusion that the Government of the United States has arrived at in this important matter is intended, however, as an effort to restrict the actions or interfere with the independent judgment of the Governments with which we are now associated in thewar.

     It is also the hope and purpose of the Government of the United States to take advantage of the earliest opportunity to send to Siberia a Commission of merchants, agricultural experts, labor advisers, Red Cross representatives and agents of the Young Men’s Christian Association accustomed to organizing a (?the) best methods of spreading useful information and rendering educational help of a modest kind in order in some systematic way to relieve the immediate economic necessities of the people there in every way for which an opportunity may open. The execution of this plan will follow and will not be permitted to embarrass the military assistance rendered to the Czecho-Slovaks.

     It is the hope and the expectation of the Government of the United States that the Governments with which it is associated wherever necessary or possible lend their active aid in the execution of these military and economic plans.”

     Report immediately to Ambassador Francis at Murmansk.

<Lansing.>

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. For more on the situation in Russia and the United States’ policy towards supporting efforts in Vladivostok and Murmansk, see: Austin M. Knight to Josephus Daniels, 1 August 1918.

Footnote 1: British Ambassador to the United States Rufus Isaacs, 1st Earl of Reading.