April 8,1950 Incident (Baltic Area) : Note from the American Ambassador at Moscow(1) to the Soviet Foreign Minister(2), April, 18, 1950 (3)

The Ambassador of the United States of America presents his compliments to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, with reference to the note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of April 11, 1950 has the honor to state that the only American military aircraft which was in the air in the Baltic area on April 8, 1950, was a United States Navy Privateer airplane which disappeared on that date and no trace of its crew has since been found.

The United States Navy airplane carried ten persons. It was wholly unarmed. It left Wiesbaden at 10:31 a. m. Greenwich time for a flight over the Baltic Sea and two and one-half hours later reported by radio crossing the coast line of the British Zone of Germany. All American military aircraft operate under strict instructions to avoid flying over any foreign territory in the absence of express permission for such a flight from the appropriate foreign government. The investigation conducted by the United States Government has convinced it that the United States Navy airplane in question complied strictly with these instructions and did not fly over any Soviet or Soviet-occupied territory or territorial waters adjacent thereto.

In the Ministry's communication under reference the Soviet Government acknowledges that one of its fighter aircraft fired upon an American plane on April 8, 1950, at 5:30 p. m. Moscow time. In view of the fact that the only American military airplane which was in the air in the Baltic area on that date was the unarmed United States Navy airplane mentioned above and that this airplane was at no time after it crossed the coast line of Germany over any foreign territory or territorial waters, it must be concluded that Soviet military aircraft fired upon an unarmed American plane over the open sea, following which the American airplane was lost.

The Ambassador of the United States has been instructed to protest in the most solemn manner against this violation of international law and of the most elementary rules of peaceful conduct between nations. The United States Government demands that the Soviet Government institute a prompt and thorough investigation of this matter in order that the facts set forth above may be confirmed to its satisfaction.

The United States Government further demands that the most strict and categorical instructions be issued to the Soviet Air Force that there be no repetition, under whatever pretext, of incidents of this kind which are so clearly calculated to magnify the difficulties of maintaining peaceful and correct international relationships.

The United States Government confidently expects that, when its investigation is completed, the Soviet Government will express its regret for the unlawful and provocative behavior of its aviators, will see to it that those responsible for this action are promptly and severely punished, and will, in accordance with established custom among peace-loving nations, pay appropriate indemnity for the unprovoked destruction of American lives and property.

(1) Adm. Alan G. Kirk. Back

(2) Andrei Y. Vyshinsky. Back

(3) Department of State Bulletin, May 1, 1950, pp. 667-668. Ibid., p. 668. Back

American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957

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