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I. I asked the Russian Ambassador to see me today at 5 p.m.
At the beginning of our conversation, I indicated to Herr Shkvartsev the inappropriateness of the report given out by the Tass agency yesterday, dealing with alleged armament supplies by Germany to Finland. I stressed the fact that this report had been denied yesterday by German sources. All the more did I regret that this report, apparently launched from English sources via Sweden and only designed to create discord between Germany and the Soviet Union, has been taken up in so striking a fashion by the official Russian agency.
On the armaments business with Finland I made the following suggestions to him:
1) Germany had before the commencement of hostilities last summer contracted with Finland for the supply of certain anti-aircraft guns in exchange for nickel shipments from Finland. After the hostilities began, further shipments ceased.
2) The Italian Government had inquired in October whether Germany was willing to permit the transit of fifty aircraft to Finland. At that time the threat of military measures between Russia and Finland could not yet be foreseen. Therefore, the German Government had, to be sure, refused transit by air, but raised no objection to transit by rail. The Italian Government, however, did not refer to this matter again, and neither the Italians nor the Finns made requests for a transit permit for the planes.
3) Some time ago an application was made to ship certain war materials for Finland from Belgium through Germany. This application, too, had been rejected.
I was now asking the Russian Ambassador to inform his Government of the foregoing and to point out that with publications such as the Tass report mentioned, only England's game was being played. England was behind Finland and according to intelligence received, England was also responsible for the failure of the Russo-Finnish negotiations last November. I should be grateful if the Russian Government would cause the Tass agency, before releasing such reports in the future, first to get in touch either with the German Embassy inMoscow or with Berlin, in order that such unpleasant incidents might be avoided.
The Russian Ambassador showed appreciation of my viewpoint and promised to report to his Government accordingly.
II. I then spoke to the Russian Ambassador about the extensive demands for military supplies put forward by the Russian trade delegation. I wanted to say beforehand, that I had given instructions to comply with the Russian requests in any conceivable way, within the limits of possibility. But it should not be forgotten that Germany was at war and that certain things were simply not possible. As I had since been told, a new basis had been found in the meantime, upon which the further negotiations can soon be concluded in Moscow, between the newly arrived Russian delegation and our negotiators. I asked the Russian Ambassador, however, to point out in Moscow, that from the German side everything humanly possible has been done and that beyond that one could not go.
The Russian Ambassador promised to report to Moscow in this sense and stressed the point that from the Russian side any military information obtained here by the Russian delegation would, of course, be kept secret.
I told the Russian Ambassador that we had complete confidence in the Russian promises, but it should be understood by the Russians that there was certain material that we could not supply during the war.