Pact Between England and Russia


By ANTHONY EDEN, Foreign Secretary

Statement delivered in the House of Commons, June 11, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 561-563.

I AM glad to be able to inform the House that His Majesty's Government have concluded a treaty with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which confirms our alliance with that country during the war against Germany and her associates in Europe.

The treaty provides that after the war our two countries will render each other mutual assistance against any further attack by Germany or her associates.

It further provides that we will collaborate with one another and with the other United Nations and in the peace settlement and during the ensuing period of reconstruction on the basis of the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter.

The House will remember that Germany invaded Russia on June 22 last year and on the same evening the Prime Minister affirmed that the Russian danger was our danger and that we should give whatever help we could to Russia and make common cause with the Russian people. Practical effect was given to the Prime Minister's declarations by the signing on July 12 of the agreement for joint action in the war against Germany.

How Negotiations Began

In September, Lord Beaverbrook, with Mr. Averell Harriman, visited Moscow and negotiated an arrangement forsupplying the Soviet Government with war materials they urgently needed for prosecution of the war.

This visit was followed in the political field by my visit to Moscow in December last year. The purpose of the visit, in the words of a joint communique issued on my return, was the exchange of views on questions relating to the conduct of the war and to the post-war organization of peace and security in Europe.

Since then the conversations begun in Moscow have been continuing. The British Dominions, the United States and other countries most closely concerned have been kept fully informed of the whole course of our negotiations.

When I was in Moscow I gave Mr. Molotoff a cordial invitation to visit us in this country and when our discussions here had made sufficient progress the Government suggested that Mr. Molotoff should come to London to embody our agreement in a formal treaty.

Mr. Molotoff, meanwhile, had been invited by President Roosevelt to visit him in Washington. It was arranged accordingly that Mr. Molotoff should come here and then go on to the United States. He arrived in London on May 21 and the treaty was signed May 26.

The next day Mr. Molotoff left for the United States in accordance with his program. I am glad to be able totell the House that Mr. Molotoff had a safe journey to the United States and back and he had most useful and satisfactory talks with the President in Washington. Mr. Molotoff has now gone back to Moscow.

When I sit down a White Paper will be available to the members at the vote office. The White Paper will contain, in addition to the treaty and the exchange of messages between the King and Mr. Kalinin, speeches made by Mr. Molotoff and myself at the signature of the treaty, but I think it would be for the convenience of the House if I give them now a brief outline of what the treaty says.

The United Kingdom and the U.S.S.R, reaffirm their determination to afford one another all possible assistance in the war and not to enter into any negotiations with the Hitlerite government or any other government in Germany that does not clearly renounce all aggressive intentions and not to negotiate or conclude except by mutual consent any armistice or peace treaty with Germany or any other state associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe.

The two countries also agree that they will when peace is re-established work together for the organization of security and economic prosperity in Europe. In doing so they will take into account the interests of the United Nations and they undertake to be guided by the two principles of not seeking territorial aggrandizement for themselves and of not interfering in the internal affairs of other States.

The two governments go on to declare their desire to unite with other like-minded States in adopting proposals for common action to preserve peace and resist aggression in the post-war period. Meanwhile, when the war is ended they will take—I quote the treaty—all measures in their power to render impossible a repetition of aggression and violation of the peace by Germany or any of the States associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe.

Interval After Victory

There is, of course, bound to be some interval after victory has been gained before an effective international system can be built up for preserving peace and for the prevention of further aggression. The two governments accordingly have agreed that should one of our countries during the post-war period become involved in hostilities with Germany or any of her European associates in consequence of an attack by one of them the two governments will at once give each other all military and other support and assistance in their power.

As for the duration of this undertaking—I will quote from the relevant article of the treaty—this article shall remain in force until the high contracting parties by mutual agreement shall recognize that it is superseded by the adoption of proposals contemplated in Article III—that is, a long-term system of international security which the treaty contemplates as our goal and which I already have mentioned.

The article then goes on as follows:

"In default of adoption of such proposals it shall remain in force for a period of twenty years and thereafter until terminated by either high contracting party."

The treaty contains a ratification clause. Both governments are anxious that the treaty shall come into force as soon as possible. The treaty accordingly will be laid forthwith on the table of the House.

Second Front Discussed

Our conversations with Mr. Molotoff were not, of course confined to treaty matters, important as they were. The war in all its aspects was reviewed and I will now give the House a quotation from the communique which is being issued this afternoon:

"A full understanding was reached between the two parties with regard to the urgent tasks of creating a second front in Europe in 1942. Discussions also took place on the question of further improving the supplies of airplanes, tanks and other war material to be sent from Great Britain to the Soviet Union."

Both sides were gratified to note the identity of their views on all the above questions. I am sure the House will join with me in welcoming the signature of this treaty and the prospects which it opens up of active and fruitful cooperation in war and peace. From our long and friendly exchange of views with Mr. Molotoff we are sure the treaty expresses exactly the common desire of the two governments.

We have been able to arrive at this happy result through establishing, by our contact with Mr. Stalin and Mr, Molotoff, complete mutual confidence. This is the time to mention their valuable contribution to Anglo-Russian understanding over a long period of years.

Basis for Reconstruction

The signature of this treaty not only formulates and emphasizes the closeness of the collaboration between our two countries during the war; it affords also an indispensable basis for European reconstruction. This does not mean our two countries alone will be responsible for the peace of Europe when the war is won. That is a burden which will be shared by all the United Nations.

It means that without the closest understanding between Great Britain and the Soviet Union there can be no security and stability in Europe, either for ourselves or any of our Allies.

The problems of peace, of course, are not for Europe alone and I hope with sure confidence that the good work our two countries have accomplished will be welcomed by the President and people of the United States and will enable our three countries to work together in the years of peace as now in the hard times of war.