Sunday, February 22, 2015

Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Russia | 1918

The British Embassy to the Department of State
No. 232
Washington, March 4, 1918
Received March 5

The British Rear Admiral at Murmansk has reported to His Majesty’s Government that a serious situation exists there owing to the anti-Ally attitude adopted by the Bolsheviki garrision, and to the reported intention of the Finns who, acting at the instigation of the Germans, propose to advance on the Petrograd-Murmansk Railway. The arrival at Murmansk from Petrograd of refugees who are seeking passages for England and of repatriated Russian sailors and soldiers, the attitude of whom will probably be hostile, is complicating the situation.

In the opinion of the British Rear Admiral, the occupation of Murmansk will probably be necessary and he has made an urgent appeal for reinforcements. A British cruiser has been sent and the British Embassy are instructed to ask the United States Government to dispatch a man-of-war to join the squadron now on the spot as soon as possible, as the situation may develop rapidly and the matter is therefore extremely urgent.

File No 861/1401a
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Russia (Francis)
Washington, March 9, 1918, 3 p.m.

2107. Request Norweigian Consul, Petrograd, deliver following message for Robins, head of American Red Cross Commission:

Please telegram full statement of conditions at Murmansk as reported by Wardwell when he arrives, covering political situation, accumulation of supplies if any and condition of railroad transportation.


File No. 861/1268
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, March 11, 1918, 10 p.m.
Received March 12, 11:37 a.m.

5. Martin wires several hundred marines landed at Murman, more troops expected and that he participated by invitation in meeting with Russian, British, French officers who are organizing to defend Murman Railway from threatened or probably attack by Germans. He says that he saw a telegram from Trotsky approving of concerted action, and all regretted that no American officers on the ground to participate.


File No 861/1400
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, March 31, 1918, 6 p.m.
Received 9:56 p.m.

49. Martin, Murman, wires, 24th, French cruiser there and 200 troops in barracks, also armed marines and field pieces being landed from British cruiser. It is reported that Finnish White Guards being drilled by German officers and that points of Murman line are threatened and that railroad mined south of Murman and five war vessels in port to resist possible attack.


File No 861.00/1765
The Consul at Moscow (Poole) to the Secretary of State [telegram]

Moscow, May 8, 1918 1 p.m.
Received May 9, 8.46 p.m.

492. From source considered reliable it is learned that Count Mirbach has presented an ultimatum to the Soviet authorities stating that if British and French troops do not at once evacuate Murman Peninsula the consequences will be most grave and it will be necessary for Germany to undertake military operations occupying further territory either in the direction of Murmansk or elsewhere.


File No. 881.00/1764
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State
Moscow May 8, 1918 6 p.m.
Received May 9, 8.19 p.m.

Remaining here for two days longer to study situation, including subject mentioned in your 87, April 26, 6 p.m. If Germany delivered ultimatum to Soviet government as reported in Consul General’s No. 492, May 8, 1 p.m., Allied intervention should not be delayed, regardless of Soviet reply to ultimatum. If a demand for evacuation Murman is denied, Soviet government accedes to German demand, of course Murman will not be evacuated and in such event Allied intervention should be announced regardless of Soviet wishes. Soviet government alarmed by German action in Ukraine, see Consul General’s No. 493 of today, and by German possession of Rostov-on-Don and is evidently nervous concerning situation general. No known organized opposition to Soviet government with force at its command but dissatisfaction therewith evidently [indicated], and maintain my opinion majority of Russian people would welcome Allied intervention.


File No. 861.00/1774
The Consul at Moscow (Poole) to the Secretary of State
Moscow, May 9, 1918, 10 p.m.
[Received May 11, 1.55 p.m.]

504. Information received today practically confirms rumor of German ultimatum to the Soviet government reported my No. 492.

It is stated now that ultimatum contains three conditions: 1) immediate departure of British and French troops from Murman Peninsula; 2) occupation of Fort Ino near Petrograd; 3) disarmament of Lettish regiment which is now serving as personal guard to the Bolshevik leaders. We learned that the demand based on ground that Less are [not] Russians but foreigners and should be sent to their native land. Demand respect in withdrawal French, British troops considered critical and evidence accumulating of consternation in Bolshevik circles accompanied by tendency on their part to seek a of the Allies.

There is press gossip of further German demands involving economic reforms and the restoration of order through the placing of German troops of occupation at important centers. Possibility of German occupation of Moscow within near future again being discussed by serious people.


File No. 861/1848
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, May 16, 1918, 9 p.m.
Received May 23, 9:58 a.m.

173. Robins passed [through] Vologda yesterday in Red Cross car attached to Siberian Express en route Vladivostok thence America, saying departure in compliance with your 22 of the 7th, signed Davison, Lansing, which was received Moscow 10th through Consulate General and was seen by me before delivery. Robins construed this cable as definite recall and when asked by me if Davison returned [ordered return] replied ‘No,” but said message was from State Department. Robins had intended remaining in the hope that Thompson would influence Department to recognize Soviet government. He planned to leave Moscow 2d instant but telegraphed me that departure delayed by cables from Paris and Washington. I saw in Moscow a telegram from [Maj. Thomas D.] Thacher [former member of the American Red Cross Commission to Russia] stating received Robin’s cable and had told Davison and others of Robins’s good work and thought effective. Also saw cable from Davison saying had received Robins’s cables and had seen Thacher and understood situation but could do nothing before reaching Washington and advising Robins to remain until further instructions. Consequently recall surprised Robins. When asked to what he attributed same replied: Summers’s suggestion. He stated yesterday he had received cable from Thacher dated 10th instant stating that he had been Washington and though had made impression. I do not know whether Robins can reach Vladivostok, as Harbin route closed and Amur route reported cut by Semenov, but Robins said later report untrue, as Soviet government unadvised thereof. Robins was accompanied by Hardy, Gumberg, and Brown, representative of Chicago News.

Associated Press representative here and Groves [J. Philip Groves, clerk in Embassy] after talking to Robins at the station understand that he had definite proposition to the United States from the Soviet government and was hastening to America in expectation of receiving favorable reply and definitely stated expected to return promptly if Soviet government survived, but Robins, with whom I talked fully, made no mention of such mission nor of returning.

Have instructed consuls along Trans-Siberian Railway to assist Robins if possible and advise me of his progress; also to transmit through Embassy or Consulate General all messages “on matters of political policy” whether ciper or en clair (see your 78, April 21[23], 5 p.m.) as Robins said has procured order of Soviet government directing acceptance of cipher messages signed by himself through consuls.

Some three months ago Robins, after repeated efforts to convert me to the support of Soviet government, upon asking if I had recommended recognition, when I replied “No,” he said would inform government and tell them I would not. I replied assenting first proposition but requested him not to advise government as to my future course which would depend upon resistance offered to Germany. Robins as I have cabled Department [has] been earnestly advocating recognition and has persuaded several well-meaning Americans that such policy wise, notably Associated Press representatives, Red Cross members and Jerome Davis; the latter I am informed cabled Mott recommending support of recognition. Thacher when at Murman awaiting vessel for London, participated in meetings and advocated evacuation of Murman by Allies, notwithstanding Merrill [probably error for Martin] advised him that my policy contrary thereto.

I do not understand Robins’s failure to inform me of his plans as he has continuously since [Thompson’s departure] expressed friendliness and admiration of my course. I regret forgetting to tell him yesterday contents of your 78, April 21[23], 5 p.m., and that would instruct consuls accordingly.

Of course have no fear of Department’s recognizing Soviet government if it should [last] until Robins’s arrival Washington, which I doubt. Bolshevik press states Robins going to America and will return soon, which opposition press claims his recall final.

May I suggest advising Red Cross and Christian Association to instruct their representatives to confine their activities strictly to the line of their work? Permit me most [earnestly] to say that if the Department would refuse Russian passports issued to socialist fanatics and sensational newsmongers, it would diminish difficulties and lessen embarrassments of this Embassy. Striking examples of unsatisfactory class are . . .


File No. 861/1906
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]

Vologda, May 18, 1918, 10 p.m., received May 31, 4:05 a.m.

182. Poole wires that Kerensky had been in Petrograd. Is now in Moscow, incognito, of course, and has conferred with . . . . our Committee on Public Information, Moscow, with a view to going to England and America to ask Allied intervention against Germnay. If he applies for entrance I recommend be granted. Please answer.


File No. 861.00/1887
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [telegram]
Vologda, May 20, 1918, 5 p.m.
Received May 26, 10.42 p.m.

185. Mirbach not pressing ultimatum concerning Murman, which apperaas to have been oral not written and probably uttered tentatively; he with German unscrupulousness and regardless of consistency constantly changes tactics . . . .

I am endeavoring without encouraging hope of recognition to establish such relations with Soviet government as will prepare way for their requested Allied intervention without my formally requesting same, as feel latter course would morally commit me to non-intervention, if not implied support, to neither of which am willing to be committed. Furthermore such action on my part would antagonize conservative elements and force them into German alliance. My policy would be materially assisted by raising of Chinese embargo against tea exportation into Russia, also by coming through of shoes en route Dairen and arrived there, also by increased allotment for the purchase of supplies, and I hope will be materially aided by coming Emerson and his assistants.

Latest information from Embassy’s men, Murman, dated 14th, states Fins attacking railway but repulsed by assistance of the British landed in greater number. [Y.M.C.A. secretary. The Rev. Jesse] Halsey, substitute for Martin who is now in Moscow but is returning Murman soon, reports local Soviet cooperating with French contingents there but Central Soviet endeavoring with the assistance of German agitators at Murman to prevent such cooperation. Arrival of Olympia Murman anxiously awaited. The capture of Murman by Germans would jeopardize Archangel connection with England and America if not wholly sever it, consequently urgently important to send assistance to Murman immediately.


The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State, Telegram
Vologda, May 22, 1918

192. Station agent Vologda received service message that Murman Railroad cut on northern third by Finns. German submarines destroyed Russian wireless station at Murman and sunk Russian freighters, and several Norwegian fish boats in Murman waters. FRANCIS

File No. 861/1895
The Consul at Moscow ([DeWitt Clinton] Poole [Jr.][1]) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Moscow, May 24, 1918, 8 p.m.
Received May 29, 12:15 a.m.

552. Was informed by Chicherin yesterday that on 21st German Ambassador read him note from Kuhlmann in which Germany promises respect sovereign rights of the present Russian Government, provided Russian Government itself protects these rights, especially with respect to Murman. Commissary understands this to mean that Germans will sustain Bolsheviki in what remains of Russia, if they will force British and French troops out of Murman Peninsula. At the same time German Ambassador informed Chicherin Soviet protest against sinking Russian boats by German submarines along Murman coast, see my No. 536, 18th, that under terms of Brest treaty Arctic Ocean remains in forbidden zone, and these observations may therefore be expected to continue.

Soviet authorities have as yet made no formal representations to British or French representatives here respecting withdrawal troops. Their policy plainly is to temporize and avoid definite issue, if possible. Nevertheless Halsey who is replacing Livingston [probably error for Liut. Hugh S. Martin, Assistant Military Attaché] temporarily at Murmansk, reports pressure being brought to bear by central authorities Moscow on local Murman soviet to have them request withdrawal troops. Compliance considered unlikely. Finnish White Guard concentrated at four strategic points along Murman railway, and there are unconfirmed reports of dispatch of German troops in that region. But on the other hand, Finnish Red Guard has made tentative proposal to join Allies.

Halsey reports today three destroyers have been handed over by the Russians to the British and French to be refitted, and one is being refitted by the Russians themselves.


File No 861.00/1894
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [telegram]
Vologda, May 26, 1918.
Received May 29, 5.20 a.m.

205. Information from various sources confirms reported plan of Swedes (Finns), Germans, to capture Murman line and Murman itself. Halsey wires Olympia arrived at Murman 24th which is exceedingly gratifying. Martin leaving here today for there with instruction to communicate with you direct if my communication severed. Have instructed him to advise Olympia commander to land marines if so requested by the local Soviet as the British and the French have already landed. Highly important Allies should retain Murman as its capture by the Germans would sever Archangel and result in Russian-American communication’s being confined to Pacific.


File No. 861.00/1897
The Consul at Archangel (Cole) to the Secretary of State [telegram]
Archangel, May 26, 1918, 11 p.m.
Received May 29, 9.39 a.m.

Munition stores and two food ships question still unsettled. Believe presence American cruiser would have excellent effect on this and other problems. British cruiser expected here at end of month or first of next.

Four-corned struggle here for power, parties thereto being:
1.     Extraordinary evacuation commission whose members personally dishonest, pro-German and overbearing.
2.     Chief of newly created old Red army White Sea military district, reported self-seeking, wily and by some lukewarm pro-Ally only; both the above have mandates from Moscow, the first from Lenin, the second from Trotsky.
3.     Central committee, Arctic Ocean flotilla, now influenced by newly arrived Black Sea sailors; this committee overbearing has just sanctioned murder on main street in broad daylight which forced assistant to commander in chief escape at once by leaving Archangel; this committee desires to dictate for entire province but lacks determined leadership.
4.     Soviet provincial executive committee now nominally controlling providence and pro-Ally because hoping receive food supplies; president this committee resents control from center but has no armed force to support him.

Old office of commander in chief being liquidated, the above four institutions are taking all his functions.


File No. 861.00/1907 ½
The British Ambassador (Reading) to the Secretary of State

The following paraphrase of a telegram was handed to the Secretary by the Ambassador on May 29, 1918:

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Balfour) to the Ambassador at Washington
May 28, 1918

We understand from your reports that intervention at Archangel and Murmansk is regarded by the United States as a different question from that of intervention in the Far East.

I should be much obliged if you would urgently impress upon the United States Government and upon the President the following considered opinion of our military and naval authorities on this question.

On the Murmansk coast assistance from America is badly required and is, in fact, essential. Every day the position of Murmansk is more seriously endangered and, as the United States Government will of course be aware, it is of vital importance to us to retain Murmansk, if we desire to retain any possibility at all of entering Russia.

This danger has become so extreme that we are sending to Murmansk such small marine and military forces as we are able to spare during the present crisis in France. These forces will, however, clearly not be enough to resist the further efforts which the enemy are certain to put forward on this coast. These dispatch of additional French or British reinforcements is impossible and it is therefore essential that America should help by sending a brigade, to which a few guns should be added. It is not necessary that the troops sent should be completely trained as we anticipate that military operations in this region will only be of an irregular character.

It is possible that we may be asked why British troops are not sent. The reason is that the Great Britain is now completely denuded of troops, and it is not feasible to take trained troops, even in small numbers, from France where they are being used more or less as cadres for the training of the American forces now reaching the west front. There is a further consideration which is worthy of careful consideration by the President. Great use has been made already of the divergence of view among the Allied countries with regard to the Russian situation, and for this reason it is of great importance that the United States should show their agreement with us on this matter by taking part in the steps adopted for preventing the closing of the only remaining door through which assistance can be given to Russia in her hour of need.

File No. 861.00/1987
The Consul at Moscow (Poole) to the Secretary of State
Moscow, May 29, 1918, 3 p.m.
Received June 9, 10.21 p.m.

576. . . . Russians show tendency to hold out in hope that Allied intervention may still come. Mirbach on his side continues conciliatory tactics well [which have] sustained Bolshevik government. The situation is thus rather delicately balanced and in the absence of positive intervention by the Allies it may continue essentially unchanged for some time. It is equally possible however that Allied intervention failing determinating parties of the right will agree with the Germans upon prompt united action.

See my No. 552, May 24, 8 p.m.

Halsey telegrams from Murman May 25:

“Notwithstanding order received direct from Moscow Commissariat Foreign Affairs, district Soviet desires Allies to remain. They inform me in writing that their feelings toward the United States are most sincere and cordial and that this friendship will only be cemented by presence of American warship. Olympia arrived 24th and is under orders British admiral.”

Bolsheviks probably hope that by Murman cession to Finland they can avoid issue through direct class between Allies on one side and Finland and German on other . . .

Kerensky left before 25th for Murmansk whence he hopes to sail for England probably June 2.


File No. 861/1906
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Russia (Francis)
Washington, June 19, 1918 4 p.m.

193. Your 182, May 18, 10 p.m. Grant visa Kerensky if he applies for it.


File No. 861/2299
The Consul at Archangel (Cole) to the Ambassador in Russia (Francis)
Archangel, June 1, 1918
Copy received from the Consul July 19

. . . 7. No child can ever be convinced that it is spanked for its own benefit. The mass of the Russian lower classes still believe in the Bolsheviks. Intervention will alienate thousands of anti-German Bolsheviks and we shall merely gain the support of discredited “intellectuals” and bourgeois. The bourgeois will soon tire of us if we do not restore their bank accounts.

File No. 861/181
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Russia (Francis) [Telegram]
Washington, June 13, 1918, 4 p.m.

180. Your 134, April 30, 8 p.m., received May 18, 7 p.m., and 205, May 26.

After consulting Secretary of Navy suggest you get in touch with Captain Bierer, commander of Olympia, who is under direct orders of the British Admiral at Murmansk. No additional American cruiser at present available to Murman coast or White Sea. Department studying question and will advise if anything further is possible but no further measures contemplated for the present.


File No. 861/2202
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State
Moscow, June 14, 1918, 8 p.m.
Received July 4, 6:07 p.m.

269 . . .  French Minister for Foreign Affairs cables French Embassy here that military conference Paris, June 3, decided to hold Murman first, then Archangel, if impossible simultaneously, and to land battalions American, British, French, Italian troops with necessary munitions and provisions to hold those ports, all troops being under British command until otherwise ordered . . .


File No. 861/2103
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, June 16, 1918, 3 a.m.
Received June 24, 8:38 a.m.

Poole wires following received today:
People’s Commissariat Foreign Affiars allows itself to request American Consul General at Moscow to direct attention United States of America to the fact that the prescence of military vessels belonging to the belligerent powers in the ports of the Russian Republic, with the possibility of their leaving for the open sea at any time for military purposes, must be regarded as inadmissible by the Russian Government. People’s Commissariat expresses certainty that the United States Government, which has given so many proofs of its friendly attitude towards the Russian Republic, will lend attention to this stipulation which is obligatory upon Russia, and will give it full consideration. People’s Commissar Foreign Affairs George Chicherin.

Note of like import sent Lockhart but states in addition that writer “has several times pointed out to you necessity for English vessels to leave our northern ports,” and ends:

“Hopes that you will draw the attention of British Government to the impossibility of the further stay of the English military vessels, even in small number, in the ports of the Russian Soviet Republic.” Chicherin.

Note to French Consul General states that further presence of vessels of warring powers in ports of Russian Republic is inadmissible—even when long stay of such vessel is not connected with any military operations. Commissariat therefore expresses hope that French Government will not delay in recalling the military vessel which is in the Arctic Ocean near the Russian Coast.” Chicherin

These messages received midnight en clair being translations of originals in Russian.


File No. 861/2089
The Secretary of the Navy (Daniels) to the Secretary of State
C-20-220 Op 36
Washington, June 22, 1918

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Department’s letter of June 14, 1918, enclosing a copy of a cablegram from the American Ambassador to Russia in regard to conditions in Finland.

For the information of the Department of State, I enclose herewith a copy of a dispatch from Admiral Sims, dated April 13, 1918, setting forth the instructions under which the British and French forces were to operate. These instructions were approved by this department and a copy given to the commanding officer of the Olympia for his guidance. The Olympia is now operating under the orders of the British Read Admiral in Murmansk.

Attention is respectfully invited to the enclosed copy of a dispatch of Admiral Sims concerning the proposed operations in this region of a British military force and to the proposed defensive measures by the Russian local authorities against the German submarines.

Sincerely yours,
Josephus Daniels

Admiral Sims to the Secretary of the Navy (Daniels)
April 13, 1918
Instructions have been issued to the British Rear Admiral at Murmansk to take any steps which he may consider necessary and desirable with the forces at his disposal to protect and further the Allied interests generally, and to assist in recovering the Allied stores at Archangel. Instructions have also been given him that he is not to commit himself to land military operations away from the port, but subject to the above-mentioned restriction he may utilize the crew of the ships for the purpose of stiffening the local resistance against Germans if it be found practicable. The same instructions have been issued to the French senior officer. It is considered essential by the Admiralty that the Allied ships at Murmansk should be placed under the orders of the senior Allied commander, and that the ships be instructed to cooperate with him in carrying out the above instructions. I concur in the above and recommend that it be carried out.


Admiral Sims to the Secretary of the Navy (Daniels)
June 3, 1918
A force of 600 infantry with field and machine guns has been sent to Murmansk in command of General Poole of the British Army. General Poole is to have under his command all the military forces ashore both at Archangel and Murmansk, his special duty being the organization of the Czechs, Serbian, and other units which are reported to be at those places. Ships can now approach the harbor at Archangel safely as the River Dvina at that place is now clear of ice.

The president of Murmansk has requested permission of the central authorities to organize defensive force against German submarines, as a result of the recent activity of the enemy submarines in the Arctic Ocean and the White Sea.


File No. 861/2175
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, June 24, 1918, 6 p.m.
Received July 2, 12:35 p.m.

297. Civil authorities Duma Archangel arrested, taken through Vologda en route Moscow; Vologda Duma also threatened for failure to execute orders of central Soviet government.

Shooting of Admiral Peplumasny yesterday arouses deep indignation and likely will cause sailors to mutiny; bitterness augmented by ordering return Black Sea Fleet to Sevastopol on German dictation and consequent destruction many Russian war vessels. Numerous manifestations of Bolshevik desperation.

[Omission] says has been promised locomotives and equipment to move men and munitions from Archangel south if given two weeks’ notice.

Cole reports that American, British, French Consuls [received] local official communication ordering withdrawal war vessels and prohibiting further arrivals. I instructed him make no reply whatever.


File No. 861/2143a
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Page)
Washington, June 27, 1918

8459. This Government believes it is inadvisable for Kerensky to come to America at the present time. Lord Reading is aware of this fact and has so advised the Foreign Office.


File No. 861/2168.5
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, June 27, 1918, 6 p.m.
[Copied from confirmation, original not received.]

304. Soviet government request cables be short and few because only available cable impaired, overloaded.

Cole wires June 26, 3 p.m., martial law declared Archangel and ‘orders issued for immediate military battle readiness.’

British report Germans advancing from Pskov toward Petrograd. French military attaché, Moscow, reports Lenin and Trotsky told him, 25th, 2,000 British soldiers landed Murman, which Martin confirms, and said Council of Commissaires were considering the question of declaration of war against Engente ‘of which principle already adopted’; that Mirbach proffered aid, been refused, and Soviet government decided to operate its own forces immediately against efforts of French at Murman and against Japanese if intervened; that Trotsky stated no one could prevent Germans from intervening.

Since above Vosnesenski called and says reports of German advance untrue.


File No. 861/2829
The Assistant Secretary of State (Phillips) to Mr. Miles of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs
June 29, 1918

Dear Mr. Miles, Sookine (secretary attached to the Russian embassy at Washington) tells me this morning that it will be necessary to determine within the next two or three days whether we will receive in this country the following prominent Russians now preparing to come: Kerensky, Tereshchenko, Maklakov, Burtsev, and Efremenovo. He says that, anyway, the French are planning to bring to the United States Kerensky and Tereshchenko. He said there was no way of stopping Kerensky without a great deal of publicity with would be utilized in Russia as showing that the United States was not in favor of receiving him which would be unfortunate. Sookine thought the best thing to do would be to have Kerensky accompanied by these other men and in this way cover him to a certain extent. He tells me that Minor, a representative of the Social Revolutionist Party, is coming and that the French Government believe it would be desirable to have Izvolski also. Apparently the idea in contemplation is that America should receive representatives of all parties in Russia that they should be amalgamated here.

W. Phillips

File No. 861/2328
The Assistant Secretary of State (Phillips) to Mr. Miles of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs
July 2, 1918

Mr. Miles: I told Sookine yesterday that the Secretary thought that it would be wiser for these distinguished Russians not to come over to this country at the present time; that if Kerensky and Tershchenko came over, it would be impossible to refuse the Bolshviki. Sookine said that he thought it might be embarrassing to refuse, to which I replied that it could be easily arranged that Kerensky would make no requests. He said that he and the Ambassador would try to settle the matter in this way and he hoped that the question would not be brought up by Kerensky.

W. Phillips

File No. 861/11422
The Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. “Olympia” (Bierer) to the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters (Sims)

Murmansk, July 6, 1918
[Copy transmitted by the Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of State, August 20]

1.     There is forwarded herewith enclosure A. Referring to I of enclosure A, Nasarenus therein mentioned is the same individual as Natsaremus previously mentioned in my weekly reports. Enclosure A was adopted by the District Council on 30 June and Moscow notified the same day. At a public meeting in Murmansk, which was attended by General Poole, Admiral Kemp, R.N., French Captain Petit, and myself, the assent to the declaration, enclosure A, was called for by the president of the Murmansk District Council and the populace, probably 2,000 or more, practically to a man, raised their hands in token of approval.
2.     The District Soviet, Murmansk District Council, Murmansk Regional Council, and Murman Region Council are the same thing, and are the council of administration or government of the Murman region. The Murman or Murmansk region includes the former Alexandrovsk and Kem districts of the Archangel Government, that is, the Murman coast, including the towns of Pechanga, Alexandrovsk, Murmansk, Kandalaksha, Kem, and Soroka. The administration of this region is directly under the Direct Council. The Council is composed of representatives from various committees, such as Railroad Workmen’s Committee, Sailor’s Committee, Military Committee, District Committee, etc. Thenumber of committees is apparently unlimited, any special group of people who are numerous enough or powerful enough being allowed representation. The various committees choose representatives and these representatives combine and form the Council and elect their own officers to exercise powers of administration, tenure of office being entirely dependent upon the wishes of the majority.
3.     The present head of the District Council is a man by the name of Yuriev.  . . he lived in the United States working at various trades in various parts of the country. He does not speak very much English but seems to understand pretty near everything that is said in English. He seems very desirous of assiting in the relief of the country from its present chaotic condition and is a sincere worker to that end. He seems pro-Ally inclined and is pronouncedly pro-American. Another influential member of the District Council is a man by the name of Vesselago, formerly a captain in the Russian Navy. He is a member of the executive council of the District Council, acts in the capacity of a sort of business manager, and occupies in general a position of power. He is very able. While rather noncommittal he seems to favor the Allies. The military command of the distrct is under the charge of Zvigentsov, formerly an officer of the Russian Army and said to have been of the Imperial Guards. He was second in command of the whole Archangel district of northern Russia, acting under an appointment from the national Soviet at Moscow. He appears pro-Ally inclined. These three men, Yuriev, Vessalago, and Zvigentsov, form a sort of triumvirate as regards district and local affairs and seem to work together to a marked degree. The head of the railway committee is Promortsev. He is a good listener, evidently does not understand English, and apparently seems purely concerned with workman’s interests, wages, etc.
4.     The Sailor’s Committee is known as the Centramur . . .
5.     The situation is, of course, unsettled, whether or not more than it has been remains to be seen. Nasarenus or Natsaremus has not appeared.
6.     On 4 July at Kem three Russians were killed by the British forces at Kem. It had been decided to disarm the Russians there, as at least some of those who had arms there did not seem to be friendly and some coming into Kem were supposed to be advance guards of Mr. Natsaremus. The three men who were killed resisted being disarmed . . .
12.             . . . There is forwarded herewith enclosure B. This temporary agreement was gotten up and signed yesterday due to the desire on the part of the Murmansk Region Council to be able to inform the Murmansk region in regard to the presence, objectives, and help of the Allies here, together with their cooperation with the Murmansk Regional Council. It is in writing a statement of the policy, operations, and intent of the Allied command represented at present by the senior Allied officers, British General Poole and Admiral Kemp, R.N. As finally drawn up in its present form, I saw no objections to signing it but on the contrary thought it desirable to sign it as all parties felt, in view of the present situation, that it was desirable. The Murmansk District Council especially persisted, in view of the present situation, in having something in writing in order to inform in particular the people of the district.

13. This agreement was drawn up in English. The Russian translation is a translation made from the English by the Murman District Council.

B.B. Bierer

[The Russian translation printed and widely circulated in Murmansk at the time is dated July 6, which date is confirmed by the U.S. Military Attaché then in Murmansk.]

Enclosure A
Resolution Adopted by the Murmansk District Council, June 30, 1918

Gentlemen, Representatives of the Nations and the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain, and France:

The Murmansk District Council considers that the respite given to Russia by the Brest treaty is finished. The arrogant German imperialists have already occupied a good half of European Russia and have divided her into small, feeble groups incapable of resistance. In each of these groups there has been restored, in different forms, the old autocratic system which had been overthrown by the Russian revolution.

The German advance into Russia continues and we can not see where it will stop. In particular, the Germans and their servants, the White Guard of Finland, are attempting to occupy the Murmansk district, the last outlet from Russia to the open sea and the last route of communication with the Allies free from German control.

Russia, in the present state of her disorganized industries, means of transport and food supply, can not recover herself and organize a serious defense against the Germans. In particular, she is unable to defend the Murmansk district against the Germans and Finns. We are not able to provide for our district the necessary food and consolidate our economic affairs.

The help which Russia and, in particular, the Murmansk district so greatly desire can come only from your Governments, representatives of the United States of America, Great Britain, and France. That is why the protest against the presence of your military forces here, which the central government has ordered us to transmit, is, to our firm conviction, an act of suicide and disaster for Russia, and especially for the Murmansk district.

The Murmansk District Council, in the firm conviction of its duty to Russia and to the population of the territory, whose confidence it enjoys, considering all these things has decided:

1.     The orders of Lenin, Trotsky, and Nasarenus to protest against the presence of the Allies here and drive them out are not to be obeyed.
2.     The Allies must remain here and assist the highest local Russian power, the Murmansk District Council, to defend the country against the Germans and Finns, and to organize a Russian Army, and improve our economic condition.
3.     The highest power of this territory is the Murmansk District Council, in the hands of which must remain all the initiative, the Allies assisting it, but not interfering in internal affairs.
4.     To give to the relations between the District Council and the Allies a more definite and precise character, the Presidium of the District Council, together with two members of the Central Committee of the Fleet and two members of the Central Railway Committee, are authorized to begin immediate negotiations for working out a concrete written agreement, determining on the basis of the second and third paragraphs mentioned above the mutual rights and obligations of the Murmansk District Council and the Allies.
5.     The District Council must take all measures for an early liquidation of the conflict between it and the central government and must endeavor to find some way of working again together.
6.     In agreeing to the above points of the resolution, we are guided by a sense of duty to retain this territory inviolate for Russia, in the name of which, as one nation, we are acting.

Enclosure B
Temporary Agreement owing to Exceptional Circumstances between the Representatives in Murmansk of Great Britain, United States of America, and France, and the Presidium of the Murmansk Region Council.

Article 1
Subject on the part of the Allies to approval by their respective governments, this agreement has been made between the Representatives of Great Britain, United States of America, and France on one side, and the Murmansk Region Council on the other, with the object of united action on the part of the Signatories for the defense of the Murmansk Region against the powers of the German coalition. Both signatories agree to the fullest mutual co-operation for this end.

Note: The Murmansk Region includes the former Alexandrovsk and Kem districts of the Archangel Government.

Article 2
The Superior command of the Allied and Russian military forces in the Murmansk Region shall be organized on the same plan as actually exists on all other Allied fronts.

Article 3
All separate units of the Murmansk Region armed forces, already existing, or which are going to be formed, are to be under the direct command of the Russian military authorities, appointed by the Murmansk District Council.

Note: It is most desirable that the Russians should form a purely Russian army; however, to further the ends in view, voluntary enlistment by the Allies of such Russians as may desire to join their forces is to be permitted. In principle however such forces should not be formed into separate Russian units but should as far as circumstances permit be formed into units composed of an equal number of companies of Allies and Russians.

Article 4
The representatives of Great Britain, United States of America, and France are to give to the Russian military command the necessary assistance in equipment, supplies, transporting and instructing the Russian military forces which are to be formed.

Article 5
All the authority in the internal government of the region belongs to the Murmansk Region Council.

Article 6
The representatives of Great Britain, United States and France, and agents do not interfere in the internal affairs of the Region, and for this reason:
a)     In all cases necessitating application to the local population the representatives of Great Britain, United States of America and France, and their agents address themselves to the respective Russian authorities, but not directly to the population, except in the frontal region, where all orders o the Allied military command, arising out of the conditions of war, must be immediately executed by all.
b)    The regulations for entering and leaving the Murmansk region are defined by the Murmansk Region Council, who at the same time take into consideration the practically existing state of war in the region and the necessity of energetic measures being taken against spies.
c)     Scale of wages and productiveness of labour are to be fixed by the Murmansk Region Council.

Article 7
Owing to the impossibility at the present time to obtain the necessary food stuffs from Russia, the representatives of Great Britain, United States of America, and France bind themselves as far as possible to supply the Murmansk Region Council with foodstuffs for the whole population of the region, including workmen who have already come from other parts with their families on the basis equivalent in nourishment to the scale used in the Allied military forces at Murmansk.

Article 8
The distribution of the foodstuffs among the population is to be carried out by the competent Russian authorities.

Article 9
The representatives of Great Britain, United States of America, and France bind themselves to supply as far as possible textile goods and other necessities of life.

Article 10
The representatives of Great Britain, United States of America, and France bind themselves as far as possible to supply the Murmansk Region Council with the necessary materials, goods and technical appliances for carrying out the building programme, in accordance with mutual agreement to be arrived at, taking into consideration in the first place the needs of war time, in the second place the needs for development by way of the Murmansk Railway of international trade, and in the third place the local fishing industry.

Article 11
All sums expended by the Governments of Great Britain, United States of America, and France in accordance with this agreement are to be placed to the debit of the general account of the government debt of Russia to the respective Powers, but a separate account for the Murmansk Region is to be kept of such sums.

Article 12
The representatives realize that it will be necessary for the governments of Great Britain, United States of America, and France to accord the Murman Region Council the necessary financial assistance, the amount, form and conditions of which will be decided by further agreement.

Article 13
This agreement comes into force from the moment of confirmation by the Murman Region Council and remains in force subject to Art. No. 1 until such time as normal conditions between the central Russian Government and the Murman Region Council, as also with the governments of Great Britain, United States of America, and France, are established.

Article 14
On the signature of this agreement the representatives of Great Britain, United States of America, and France, in the name of their respective governments, do again confirm the absence on their part of any intention of taking possession of the Murmansk Region in its entirety or part thereof. The Presidium of the Murmansk Region Council on behalf of the Council declares before the people of Russia and the governments of Great Britain, United States of America, and France, that the sole reason of concluding this Agreement is to save the Murmansk Region in its integrity for the great Undivided Russia.

Presidium of the Murmansk Region Council:
President Yuriev
Vice President Korelski
Secretary Taly
Director of Affairs Vesselago

British Representative: F.C. Poole, Major General Commanding Allied Forces in North Russia
French Representative: Petit, Capitaine de Vaisseau, Commanding “Admiral Aube”
Representative of Unitied States of America: B. B. Bierer, Captain, U.S. Navy, Commanding U.S.S. ‘Olympia’

Murmansk, July 6, 1918

File No. 861/ 2104
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Russia (Francis)
Washington, July 6, 1918, 7 p.m.

212. Your 289, June 20, 10 p.m. Department understands you will make no reply and take no other action regarding request for American ships to leave Russian ports.


File No. 861/2239
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, July 7, 1918, 1 p.m.
Received July 10, 4 p.m.

324. Crisis precipitated by killing Mirbach renders necessary immediate troops Archangel. Poole at Murman with forces wholly inadequate and plans to land Archangel first week in August with 5,000 men. This is [intended for?] moral effect and will dishearten [enhearten?] Russians and probably Czechs also. The Germans will doubtless advance promptly with all force can command. If Allied troops [advance?], will encourage thousands of Russians who otherwise would remain inactive and permit Germany to restore order and gain secure foothold.


File No. 861/2089
The Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Navy (Daniels)
Washington, July 9, 1918

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter (C-20-220 Op 36), enclosing telegram embodying the instructions to Allied naval officers at Murmansk.

I am thoroughly in accord with the general principles by which the actions of the commander of the Olympia are to be governed. Referring to the proposed measures of the Russian local authorities at Murmansk against German submarines, I shall be glad to know what tangible preparations have been effected and how, in your judgment, this Government may cooperate to assist. I have [etc.]

Robert Lansing

File No. 861/2266.5
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Vologda, July 11, 1918, 2 a.m.
[Copied from confirmation, original not received.]

329. Referring to my telegram No. 328 similar telegrams also received by French and Italian colleagues, tone of French telegram however stronger than others. After conferring with Allied chiefs here tonight we have unanimously agreed not to comply with demand. British Embassy has so advised General Poole, Murman, and Admiral Kemp, Archangel, at the same time urging immediate sending Allied troops Archangel. I am so informing Consuls, Moscow and Archangel.


File No. 861/2310
The Consul at Archangel (Cole) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Archangel, July 15, 1918, 8 p.m.
[Received July 20, 12:23 p.m.]

76. Local authorities, dissatisfied British violation Russian sovereignty west shores White Sea, issued a proclamation summoning guards to resist English, French robbers seeking destruction Soviet government because it refuses rejoining the war between greedy capitalists, without having mentioned the United States of America. Violated sovereignty Russia in the hoisting of the British flag on some Russian boats as well as introducing vessels in the service by armed force proving the inhabitants of occupied regions are [dis]satisfied on account food-distribution. In reference to information about above-mentioned encroachments, Archangel Soviet finally declined responsibility for the safety British armed ice breaker named Alexander wherewith she departed.


File No. 861/2804
The Consul at Archangel (Cole) to the Secretary of State [Telegram]
Archangel, July 15, 1918, 9 p.m.
[Received July 20, 12:08 p.m.]

77. The attitude of the inhabitants of Archangel in anticipation of the arrival of the Allied forces as follows: 1) Welcome on the part of civilians; 2) publicly expressed disfavor toward military intervention by the local Bolshevik leaders goaded thereto by Moscow; 3) part of the Archangel executive department would nevertheless eventually cooperate as well as welcome the Allies, if they proceed with tact, luring rather than bullying.

My cipher telegraphs in Russia will not be accepted except diplomatics to the Department.


File No. 861/2586
The Consul at Archangel (Cole) to the Secretary of State
Archangel, July 19, 1918
[Received August 27]
No. 27

Sir: I have the honor to report that during the recent visit to this city of Admiral Kemp, the British senior naval officer in the Arctic Ocean, word was received by the local authorities here, through a master of a Russian vessel just returned to Archangel from Kem, that what the local authorities deemed violations of Russian sovereignty had been committed by the British military and naval authorities along the Murman Railroad and on the west coast of the White Sea. Among these alleged acts was the shooting of three members of the Kem County Council of Workman’s Deputies. Admiral Kemp immediately departed for the west coast of the White Sea (Kandalaksha) to investigate, as he staed nothing of the kind could have been done under the orders given by him to the captain of H.M.S. Attentive, then in the region mentioned (Kandalaksha, Kem, Soroka). With the Admiral, on a Russian vessel, went two members of the Archangel Soviet Executive Committee. . .

In mid-1917, Poole was sent to Russia to serve as Vice Consul General in Moscow.  He took a trip from Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian Railway in the company of the famed British spy and novelist, Somerset Maugham, arriving in Moscow on September 1, 1917.  Soon after the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917, he was drafted into a growing information network, which included the consuls of several Western nations. Its goal was to establish contact with anti-Bolshevik forces and to gather information on the political, economic and military situation in Russia. In December 1917, Poole went on a rather dangerous reconnaissance mission, traveling undercover in South Russia, and returned to Petrograd (modern St. Petersburg, which was then the Russian capital) in mid-January 1917 to report to the U.S. Ambassador. In May 1918, Poole became the Consul General in Moscow. By that time, he was running a clandestine espionage network, which at its height in the summer of 1918 numbered 30 sources in Moscow and various other Russian cities. Poole had also become a self-initiated back channel between the Bolshevik Commissariat of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Department of State — trying to push for American aid to Russia as a “carrot” to lead the Bolsheviks to cooperate in the face of German advances on military and commercial fronts. However, by early August 1918 his efforts were exhausted, and Poole had to burn his codes, close the American Consulate General in Moscow and arrange for the evacuation of all Americans left in Moscow. He barely managed to escape to Finland in September 1918.

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