HC Deb 24 February 1920 vol 125 cc1501-3

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any information to the House with regard to the decisions which have been made by the Allied Governments with reference to Russia?


The Allied Governments have agreed on the following conclusions:—

If the communities which border on the frontiers of Soviet Russia, and whose in- dependence or de facto autonomy they have recognised, were to approach them and to ask for advice as to what attitude they should take with regard to Soviet Russia, the Allied Governments would reply that they cannot accept the responsibility of advising them to continue a war which may be injurious to their own interests. Still less would they advise them to adopt a policy of aggression towards Russia. If, however, Soviet Russia attacks them inside their own legitimate frontiers, the Allies will give them every possible support.

The Allies cannot enter into diplomatic relations with the Soviet Government in view of their past experiences until they have arrived at the conviction that Bolshevist horrors have come to an end, and that the Government of Moscow is ready to conform its methods and diplomatic conduct to those of all civilised governments. The British and Swiss Governments were both compelled to expel representatives of the Soviet Government from their respective countries because these had abused their privileges. Commerce between Russia and the rest of Europe, which is so essential for the improvement of economic conditions, not only in Russia but in the rest of the world, will be encouraged to the utmost degree possible without relaxation of the attitude described above.

Furthermore, the Allies agree in the belief that it is highly desirable to obtain impartial and authoritative information regarding the conditions now prevailing in Russia. They have, therefore, noted with satisfaction the proposal before the International Labour Bureau, which is a branch of the League of Nations, to send a Commission of Investigation to Russia to examine the facts. They think, however, that this inquiry would be invested with even greater authority and with superior chances of success, if it were made upon the initiative and conducted under the supervision of the Council of the League of Nations itself, and they invite that body to take action in this direction.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, arising out of that very important answer, how the Eastern frontiers of these Border States are to be defined unless they enter into peace negotiations with Soviet Russia, and what will be the attitude of His Majesty's Government if asked for their advice as to whether they should enter into peace instead of continuing the war?


I am afraid that I cannot add anything to my answer. Our statement was that advice would be given to these countries that we could not recommend them to go on with a war which might be injurious to their own interests; but if, on the other hand, they were attacked by Soviet Russia inside their own legitimate frontiers, of which we would be the judges, the Allies would give them every possible support.

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