Sunday, June 28, 2015

ADSS 1.52 Osborne to Secretariat of State: UK negotiations with USSR

ADSS 1.52 D’Arcy Osborne, UK Minister to Secretariat of State

Reference: AES 3214/39, aide memoire.

Location and date: Rome, 27.05.1939

Summary statement: Overtures to USSR do not mark any departure from UK policy.  It is to aid the smaller states of Europe from future aggression.

Language: English



The impending association with the Soviet Government does not represent any departure form the fundamental policy of His Majesty’s Government. (1) That policy is to aid the smaller States of Europe to defend their independence against possible aggression.  His Majesty’s Government have given guarantees to certain States, and in order to give effect to this policy nothing must be neglected that would facilitate the furnishing of assistance to these States of guard against their isolation in the face of possible enemies.

It is for these purposes that His Majesty’s Government are entering into a purely defensive arrangement with the Soviet Government under defined conditions and for a specified period, and the conclusion of the arrangement in no way signified any ideological union or alliance.


(1) After Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in March, the British government began proposing the possibility of an Anglo-Soviet defensive block against Germany.  Negotiations dragged on through the summer. The proposal was rejected by the Soviets when Britain refused to support Soviet demands regarding the Baltic States and the right to send Red Army troops into Poland in the event of a German invasion. 

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