§ 2. Mr. Wedgwood
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government propose yet to 1502 break off relations with Finland, as requested by the Soviet Government?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Richard Law)
The Finnish Government have always attempted to maintain that their war against the Soviet Union is of a purely defensive character. Though this attitude ill accorded with the manner in which they were prosecuting the war in conjunction with Germany, it was obviously to the advantage of the Soviet Government as well as of His Majesty's Government that Finland should be induced if possible to withdraw from active hostilities. Nevertheless, it became increasingly obvious that, despite Finnish protestations, the Finnish Government were unable or unwilling to avoid full association with Germany. On 22nd September His Majesty's Government conveyed a message to the Finnish Government, through the Norwegian Government, to the effect that if the Finnish Government persisted in invading purely Russian territory a situation would arise in which Great Britain would be forced to treat Finland as an open enemy not only while the war lasted but also when peace should come to be made. The Finnish reply was unsatisfactory, protesting that Finland was in fact waging only a defensive war.
A further examination of the various factors concerned was made by His Majesty's Government in consultation with the Government of the U.S.S.R., and in agreement with them His Majesty's Government decided to give the Finnish Government a final opportunity to withdraw from active hostilities and to cease collaborating with the common enemy. On 28th November a message was sent to the Finnish Government through the United States Minister at Helsingfors stating that unless by 5th December Finland ceased military operations against the U.S.S.R., His Majesty's Government would be obliged to declare that a state of war existed between the two countries. Similar messages were sent to the Rumanian and Hungarian Governments, whose cases had been treated throughout on the same footing as that of Finland. As the requisite assurances were not forthcoming, His Majesty's Government declared war upon Finland, Rumania and Hungary as from one minute after midnight, G.M.T., on 7th December.