Conversation of Stalin with Cripps ‐ 1940

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Conversation of Stalin with the ambassador of GB in the USSR S. Cripps ‐ 1941

From; recording of the conversation of the chairman of the council of peopleʹs commissars of the USSR J. V. Stalin with the ambassador of Great Britain in the USSR S. Cripps

July 10, 1941, top secret


While agreeing with the new version of the first paragraph, Cripps, however, said that since the text he proposed mentions the rendering of ʺeach other assistance of all kinds,ʺ he does not see a great need for the addition proposed by comrade Stalin. Cripps also stated that as a lawyer, he often encountered agreements in England and always used general terms. The British, Cripps explained, have a strange way of conveying the meaning of the document, and he finds that if you make a reservation, then in England there will be people who will think that the assistance stipulated in the agreement is limited. Cripps considers the question raised by comrade Stalin to be purely technical. However, he personally must warn that London might make the same remarks that Cripps himself made.

Comrade Stalin asked Cripps if he would mind if comrade Molotov was present at the conversation.

Cripps fully agreed with comrade Stalinʹs proposal, after which comrade Molotov took part in the conversation.

After comrade Molotov got acquainted with Churchill’s message and the Cripps proposals, comrade Stalin read the Anglo‐French‐Turkish treaty and agreed that this treaty does indeed say: “if Turkey is involved in hostilities with a European power the aggression committed by this power against Turkey, France and the United Kingdom will effectively cooperate with Turkey and will render her every assistance and support within the limits of their forces. ʺ

Cripps jokingly stated that he hoped that the agreement, which Britain and the USSR were going to conclude, would not suffer the fate of the Anglo‐Franco‐Turkish treaty.

Cripps stated that he had received Churchill’s personal message to comrade Stalin, which was a response to the proposals made by comrade Stalin in his conversation on July 8 .

After reading out loud and handing comrade Stalin the Russian text of Churchill’s message, Cripps noted the difficulties encountered in translating into Russian that part of Churchill’s message which refers to the ʺdeclared agreement expressed in the statement.ʺ Cripps further stated that in order to expedite the signing of the agreement, he, on his own initiative and under his own responsibility, drafted a draft agreement that, in his opinion, reflected the views of the British government.

The draft agreement presented by Cripps read:

“his majestyʹs government in the United Kingdom and the government of the union of Soviet socialist republics have agreed and declare as follows:

A)                 both governments mutually undertake to render each other assistance of every kind in the present war against Germany.

B)                  they further pledge that during this war they will not negotiate peace and will not conclude an armistice without mutual consent. ʺ

Answering comrade Stalinʹs question why not call the proposed draft document an agreement, Cripps said that in drawing up the draft he had to be guided by Churchill’s message, where the latter calls the document an ʺagreed declarationʺ. Wishing to start discussing the agreement as soon as possible, Cripps decided to draw up the draft in the simplest, in his opinion, form, and he, Cripps, would have nothing against introducing any amendments and proposals into the text of his draft.

Comrade Stalin noted that no one could and cannot say that the Soviet

Union did not fulfill its obligations under the treaties it concluded. Referring to the wording of the first paragraph of the draft agreement, comrade Stalin proposed the following option:

1) both governments undertake to provide each other with all kinds of assistance and support ...

If, said comrade Stalin, this option is acceptable, then he no longer has any objections.

Taking note of comrade Stalinʹs remark, Cripps asked if he could send a telegram to London with the text of the draft agreement as approved by the Soviet government.

Answering in the affirmative, comrade Stalin asked Cripps whether the validity of this agreement was determined by any time limit or not.

Cripps stated that the duration of the agreement was determined by the duration of the war against Germany. As soon as the war is over, the treaty will disappear by itself. The war will not end until both countries, as indicated in the agreement, do not conclude peace by mutual agreement.

Comrade Stalin said in a joking tone: ʺisnʹt England afraid that the Russians themselves will defeat Germany and say to England: we donʹt want to have anything to do with you, they say.ʺ

Cripps, also laughing, replied that this was not possible, since the parties to the agreement were not allowed to do anything like that.

Further, comrade Stalin asked Cripps what the name of the draft document proposed by the ambassador would be.

Cripps said it would be a declaration agreement. This declaration will say that both contracting parties have concluded an agreement, which they ʺdeclareʺ about.

In response to comrade Stalinʹs proposal to call the document not a declaration, but an agreement, as Britain and Turkey did, Cripps said that the agreement is much more complicated in its content, has various additions, appendices, etc.

Perhaps, Cripps said, we could work out such a treaty later.

Disagreeing with comrade Stalinʹs remark that a declaration is less binding than an agreement, Cripps proposed to call the document either the “agreed declaration” or “declared agreement”.

According to Cripps, the new form of agreement is better than the usual one as it will yield results soon. If both sides discuss separate points of the document, then months will pass.

Comrade Stalin told Cripps that it would be better for months to pass but let both sides work out a real document defining their cooperation.

In response to Crippsʹ proposal to call the document a declaration “on an agreement on joint actions by the government of his majesty and the government of the USSR,” comrade Stalin said that there are better forms of defining cooperation. The experience of Munich has already made the whole world convinced that declarations are worthless, and no one is fulfilling them.

Cripps began to assure comrade Stalin that England would abide by and observe the present agreement and that the title would not change the meaning and content of the document.

Comrade Stalin noted that the title of the document proposed by the ambassador would provide ample material for critics. It may appear that both parties lack confidence in each other.

Agreeing with comrade Stalinʹs remark about the critics, Cripps said that France would be afraid to criticize the agreement. Cripps, however, proposed to name the document ʺagreement between Britain and the USSR on joint actions against Germanyʺ or ʺagreement on mutual assistance and consultation between the USSR and England.ʺ

Comrade Stalin and comrade Molotov noted that the addition of the word ʺconsultationʺ weakens the meaning of the document.

Cripps then proposed the following title of the document: ʺagreement on joint actions of his majestyʹs government in the United Kingdom and the government of the union of Soviet socialist republics in the war against Germany.ʺ

Comrade Stalin and comrade Molotov agreed with Crippsʹ proposal.

Further, comrade Stalin and comrade Molotov and Cripps came to a final decision on the text of the agreement itself, adopting the following wording:

“the government of his majesty in the United Kingdom and the government of the union of Soviet socialist republics have concluded this agreement and declare the following:

1.                   Both governments mutually undertake to render each other assistance and support of every kind in the present war against Hitlerite Germany.

2.                   They further undertake that during this war they will neither negotiate nor conclude an armistice or peace treaty, except by mutual consent. ʺ

Cripps stated that he would like to send both the English text of the draft and the Russian to London.

Comrade Stalin and comrade Molotov approved Crippsʹ desire and handed the Russian text of the draft agreement to the ambassador.

Cripps said that if he received his governmentʹs consent to signing in the form as it is now worked out, he, Cripps, would ask London to authorize him to sign this agreement.

At the end of the conversation, comrade Molotov asked Cripps if he had received an answer from London regarding proposals to take joint measures in Iran and Afghanistan.

Cripps stated that he had telegraphed to London and asked to consider the question raised by comrade Stalin immediately. Cripps also pointed out to London that it was necessary to get in touch with Maisky to find out if a joint deMarche could be made.

Having promised to consult with the British envoy in Tehran, Cripps suggested that the military might have to support diplomatic measures.

Comrade Stalin agreed with Crippsʹ last remark.

Adding that he pointed out to London the need for swift action on the issue of the Germans in Iran, Cripps said that he would communicate with the British envoy in Kabul and find out the state of affairs. If necessary, he will coordinate with his government the question of joint actions by the British and Soviet governments.

Comrade Stalin told Cripps that Soviet intelligence learned about a month ago about the proposals that the Germans had made to the Iranians. The Germans offered Iran to sell them oil three times more than the British.

The Germans also promised the Naans that they would help seize the oil fields of Baku.

Cripps stated that he had similar reports of the former. As for the promises of the Germans to provide assistance in the capture of Baku, he hears this for the first time. Cripps added that the only way to deal with the Germans is to take joint action.

Saying goodbye to Cripps, comrade Stalin said that he personally asked both Cripps and Churchill himself to quickly resolve the issue with the signing of an agreement in order to clarify both in the USSR itself and throughout Europe.

Cripps assured comrade Stalin that there would be no delay either on his part or on Churchill’s side, and that the question would only be behind the dominions.

The conversation lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes.

The conversation was recorded by Potrubach.

Wua rf. F. 048. On. 48. P. 431. D. 10. L. 5‐12.

Publ.: Soviet‐English relations ... ‐ t. 1. ‐ p. 77‐81.


Selected Secret Documents from Soviet Foreign Policy Documents Archives ‐ 1919 to 1941, Svitlana M, Erdogan A