Tuesday, November 28th, 1939
Reply to Finnish Government to Russian demand for withdrawal of troops from frontier near Leningrad:
It is established that the discharge of cannon shots mentioned in your communication did not take place on the Finnish side. Investigations showed instead that on November 26th between 3.43pm and 4.50pm firing occurred on the Russian side of the frontier in the vicinity of Mailia, the place mentioned by you…..
Therefore it is our duty to deny, protest and establish the fact that from the Finnish side no hostile action towards the Soviet union has taken place. It should be pointed out that on the Finnish side of the frontier only frontier guards are stationed, and there is no artillery whose range would reach the other side of the frontier.
Consequently, although there is no concrete reason to remove our troops from the frontier line in the manner you suggested, the Government is nevertheless ready to negotiate with the Soviet Union on the proposal with the intention that troops be removed from both sides to a fixed distance from the frontier.
The Finnish Government has noted with satisfaction your intimation that the Soviet Government does not intend to exaggerate the importance of the frontier incident which they, according to your communications, believed at the time has taken place.
In order that no obscurity whatever may remain any circumstances, the Finnish Government suggests that the Karelian Isthmus Frontier Commission be instructed jointly to investigate in the manner regulated by the treaty of October 24, 1938, concerning frontier demarcation.
Wednesday, November 29th
M Molotov in a broadcast to the Soviet People:
The hostile policy of present Finnish Government compels us to take immediate steps to safeguard the external security of our state. You all know that the Soviet Government had patently negotiated on certain proposals which, in view of the present international tension, the Soviet considered to be the minimum guarantee for the safety of our country, and in particular Leningrad. During these negations the Finnish Government adopted an irreconcilable attitude towards our country. Instead of attempting to find a friendly basis for an understanding, the present leaders, acting in the interests foreign imperialists and warmongers, who are the enemies of the Soviet Union, elected to take a different course.
It is well-known where this had led, there has been abominable provocation by the Finnish military on the Finnish-Soviet frontier during the past few days. our soldiers were even shelled by artillery near Leningrad, and heavy casualties were caused among the Red Troops. our effort to prevent a repetition of such provocation by practical proposals put to Finland have met with no response and even evoked a hostile attitude in Finish leading circles.
As you all know from yesterday’s Soviet Note, the Finns have replied by rejecting our Proposals and by denying established facts. They have even jeered at our victims. Their reply shows their undisguised desire to continue their threat to Leningrad. All this has made it quite clear that the present Finnish Government, who are entangled in anti-soviet commitments and foreign imperialists, do not wish to maintain normal relations with the Soviet Union. They show no desire to comply with the provisions of the Non-Aggression Pact, and want to keep our glorious Leningrad under military threat.
From such a militarist Government we can expect nothing but French impertinent provocation. The Soviet Government were therefore compelled yesterday to declare that they do not consider themselves any longer bound by the Non-Agggression Pact.
In view of fresh attacks by Finnish troops on the frontier our Government found themselves compelled to take new decisions. We can no longer tolerate the present situation, for which the Finnish Government have decided that they can no longer maintain normal relations with Finland and have considered it necessary to recall their diplomatic representatives. Furthermore, the High Command of the Red Army has ordered the Army and Navy to be in readiness for any eventuality in order to prevent possible fresh provocation by the Finnish Military.
These measures have not been taken, as has been alleged abroad, with a view to violating Finnish independence or annexing Finnish territory. This is a perfidious calumny. We have no such intentions…..
It has also been alleged that our measures are directed against Finnish independence, and that they constitute an interference with Finnish domestic and Foreign policy. This is also a malicious calumny. We regard Finland as an independent and sovereign state, whatever her regime may be.
We consider that the Finnish people are entitled to decide themselves all matters of foreign and domestic policy in the way they deem necessary. The people of the Soviet Union have done what was necessary for the independence of Finland. The people of our country are prepared to assist the Finnish people in securing a free and independent development……the only aim of our nation is to safeguard the security of the Soviet Union and in particular of Leningrad, with its population of 3,500,000.
In view of the present international situation, which is extremely tense as a result of the war, we could make the solution of the vital and urgent questions conditional upon the bad faith of the present Finnish leaders. This matter must be solved by the Soviet Union in friendly co-operation with the Finnish people. Only the successful solution of the problem of the safety of Leningrad can lead to a new era of friendship between the Soviet Union and Finland.
Thursday, November 30th
Mr Chamberlain in the House of Commons:
The House will be aware that for some time past there has been an exchange of views between the Soviet Government and the Finnish Government on certain questions mainly of a strategic character, raised by the former. Some apprehension has been expressed by the Soviet Government at the proximity of Leningrad to the Finnish frontier, which is, in fact, only some 20 miles distant, and a proposal was made by them for the relinquishment of that part of the frontier in exchange for territorial compensation farther north.
Further claims were also made to the acquisition of certain Finnish islands in the Gulf of Finland and of a Finnish post at the entrance of the gulf in order, it was taken, to assure the position of the Soviet union in the Gulf of Finland…..
The attitude of the Finnish Government was from the outset unprovocative, through governed by the determination to do nothing which would impair their country’s sovereign status. It is known that the Finnish note delivered in Moscow immediately before the announcement of the rupture of diplomatic relations was of a most conciliatory character.
The Finnish Government proposed to submit the dispute to arbitrations and offered meanwhile to withdraw all troops from the Finnish frontier in the Karelian Isthmus with the exception of the ordinary frontier guards and Customs forces. Nevertheless, the Soviet Government on Tuesday night denounced the Soviet-Finland non-aggression pact, which has been expressly designed to ensure the settlement of disputes such as this by peaceful means.
His Majesty’s Government have observed this development with increasing concern and have found to difficult to believe that strategic measures of such scope and importance as were suggested should have been considered necessary to protect the Soviet Government against a country as small as Finland.
Late last night M Molotov broadcast a statement, in the course of which he is officially reported as having denied the suggestion, which he attributed to the foreign Press, that a Soviet attempt on Finland was intended. Yet only a few hours after this broadcast it is understood that Soviet forces have invaded Finnish territory on several sections of the frontier and have dropped bombs in the vicinity of Helsinki. It is later reported that Helsinki, Viborg and other centres have been bombed, in some cases with loss of life.
His Majesty’s Government warmly welcomed the offer of mediation made by the United States Secretary of State, because in their opinion the questions at issue between Finland and the Soviet were not of a nature to justify warlike measures. They deeply regret this attack on a small independent nation, which must result in fresh suffering and loss of life to innocent people.
Friday, December 1st
President Roosevelt in a statement at a Press Conference:
The news of the Soviet naval and military bombings within Finnish territory comes as a profound shock to the Government and people of the United States.
Despite efforts made to solve the dispute by peaceful methods to which no reasonable objection could be offered, one Power has chosen to resort to force of arms. It is tragic to see the policy of force spreading and to realise that wanton disregard for the law is still on the march.
All peace-loving people, those nations that are still hoping the world on the basis of law and order, will unanimously condemn this new resort to military force as the arbiter of international difference.
To the great misfortune of the world the present trend towards force makes insecure the independent existence of the small nations of every continent and jeopardizes the rights of mankind to self-government.
The people and Government of Finland have a long, honourable, and wholly peaceful record which has won for them the respect and warm regard of the people and Government of the United States.