April 18, 2017

1943. The Diplomatic Front in Russia

The Allies Ramp Up Diplomacy
Sailors aboard the Soviet destroyer Zheleznyakov of the Black Sea Fleet watch the fighting in Novorossiysk, September 16, 1943 (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

May 16, 1943

The Russian front continues to simmer today like a gigantic pot of military stew. It spills over here and there, and you have some fighting such as in the Kuban last night or along the Donets River line.

(The Kuban fighting has slackened considerably in the past few days. Northeast of Novorossiysk the Germans have been trying to take the initiative but without much success. On the lower Kuban River delta the Red Army is still moving.)

(Last night the Soviet air force again hit two important railroad junctions in the German rear southwest of Moscow. The cities of Gomel and Orel caught it last night, and Russian airmen report heavy damage to the railroad tracks, rolling stock, and military equipment rolling from Germany to the east.)

Yes, the Russian front continues to simmer. But the temperature is rising, and there is every indication that it will boil over at any moment.

In these times, soldiers make more news than diplomats. However, despite what armies do, it is the diplomats in Russia who now have the job of seeing that our military alliance with the Soviet Union extends beyond an understanding between armies to an understanding between peoples.

I thought you would be interested in knowing just what kind of men are handling this vitally important task for America and Britain.

America's ambassador, Admiral Standley, who made some headlines of his own a few weeks ago, is still more of a sailor than a diplomat. And this fact alone has made him a success in this country. When he entertains Russian officials at the palatial ambassadorial residence here in Moscow, he starts off by telling them "Mighty glad to have you aboard." The Ambassador thinks in terms of Navy commands, and he runs his office over here like he once ran battleships. It's not a bad way to operate in this country.

The British ambassador, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, is just the opposite. He's the Anthony Eden-type of diplomat and recognized as one of the most capable men in the British foreign service. He's an expert on protocol and knows his diplomatic routine backward and forward. He's probably one of the best-dressed men in the world. He has given the Russians what they expect to find in the best type of diplomat, and his success with Soviet officials is due to this fact.

As the war approaches a climax and as victory becomes more and more of a reality, these two men are going to have more and more to do here in Moscow. There already are indications that the diplomatic front here in Russia is becoming more active.

The latest development to watch is the arrival from America of former ambassador Joseph Davies. The Russian press has not yet printed the fact that Mr. Davies is en route to Russia as a special envoy of President Roosevelt. (Mr. Davies' trip to this country right now is the big diplomatic mystery in Moscow.) Some indication as to the purpose of his trip should be given when he is expected to arrive.