The Search for World Peace
4178. Appeal by the Finnish Government.
The PRESIDENT. — The Assembly has to-day adopted, in virtue of Article 15 of the Covenant, its report on the appeal by the Finnish Government. At the end of this report, there are two resolutions, the second containing a recommendation by the Assembly to the Council. I should like to remind you of the text of this second resolution:
"Whereas, notwithstanding an invitation extended to it on two occasions, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has refused to be present at the examination of its dispute with Finland before the Council and the Assembly;
"And whereas, by thus refusing to recognise the duty of the Council and the Assembly as regards the execution of Article 15 of the Covenant, it has failed to observe one of the League's most essential covenants for the safeguarding of peace and the security of nations;
"And whereas it has vainly attempted to justify its refusal on the ground of the relations which it has established with an alleged Government which is neither de jure nor de facto the Government recognised by the people of Finland in accordance with the free working of their institutions;
"And whereas the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has not merely violated a covenant of the League, but has by its own action placed itself outside the Covenant;
"And whereas the Council is competent under Article 16 of the Covenant to consider what consequences should follow from this situation:
"Recommends the Council to pronounce upon the question."
As, in this second resolution, the Assembly has stated that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has not merely violated a covenant of the League but has by its own action placed itself outside the Covenant, and as it has recommended the Council to pronounce upon the question, I would remind you of the provisions of Article 16, paragraph 4:
"Any Member of the League which has violated any covenant of the League may be declared to be no longer a Member of the League by vote of the Council concurred in by the representatives of all the other Members of the League represented thereon."
Article 16, paragraph 4, of the Covenant, which I have just read to you, provides for a vote by the Members of the League represented on the Council. I accordingly submit for the Council's approval the following draft resolution:
"Having taken cognisance of the resolution adopted by the Assembly on December 14th, 1939, regarding the appeal of the Finnish Government;
"1. Associates itself with the condemnation by the Assembly of the action of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics against the Finnish State; and
"2. For the reasons set forth in the resolution of the Assembly,
"In virtue of Article 16, paragraph 4, of the Covenant,
"Finds, that, by its act, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has placed itself outside the League of Nations. It follows that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is no longer a Member of the League."
I now invite you to discuss this draft resolution.
M. POLYCHRONIADIS. — Before I make a statement, there is a duty which I am in honour bound to discharge. I am particularly proud that it should have fallen to me to express the profound admiration and respectful sympathy which Greece feels for the noble Finnish people. I wish to pay a tribute to the heroic effort being made by a valiant nation struggling for liberty and independence, a nation which is distinguished both by its efforts in peaceful labour and by the degree of culture to which it has attained.
Having thus made my country's attitude quite clear, I have the honour, acting on instructions received from my Government, to state that I shall abstain from voting in regard to that part of the resolution according to which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has placed itself outside the League of Nations. My abstention relates, in particular, to point 2 of the resolution — that is to say, the passage extending from the words " For the reasons ..." to the end.
M. GAVRILOVITCH. — On behalf of Yugoslavia, and acting on instructions from my Government, I beg to inform the Council that when the vote is taken I shall abstain, and more particularly with regard to point 2 of the resolution.
M. HOLSTI. — I should like to make it quite clear that in her opinion Finland cannot sit as a judge in a matter brought by her before the Council. I shall therefore abstain from voting, in order that any decision taken by the Council may retain a wholly impartial character.
M. PAUL-BONCOUR. - I think, indeed I hope, that none of our colleagues will have misunderstood the reasons for the extreme discretion that France, like the United Kingdom, has observed in the course of this debate.
It is, however, in defence of the principles which you are yourselves defending, the principles upon which our institution is founded, and in the name of which you are about to take a grave decision, that we have risen up and are now making war.
But we have been mindful of the hospitality extended to us by a State whose humanity towards our prisoners and wounded during two wars—the second of which might surely have been thought to be the last—we have not forgotten and shall never forget. We have been anxious to respect the position of States Members of the League, most of which have so far been able to preserve their neutrality in the present conflict. We, for our part, do not violate either territories or consciences.
Now, however, the Assembly, in conformity with the provisions of the Covenant, has passed on to the Council the heaviest share of responsibility for the decision that is to be taken. The Council is preparing to assume that responsibility, and France, as a Member of the Council, is about to do the same. I think it would be held strange if she did so in silence.
France is here, although she has many other preoccupations, because, whatever States might be involved, she has always answered "present" when it was necessary to defend principles of which I may fairly say that, had they been defended a little sooner and a little more firmly, we should not perhaps be having to defend them to-day, at the price of immense material sacrifices and of the personal sacrifices of the whole younger generation massed on our frontiers, by tearing an entire nation away from its peaceful labours and mobilising it to wage a war that it will continue to the end, until the causes that led to it have ceased to exist.
France is here to impose by her vote a sanction, in the most categorical and painful form, for the breach of the Covenant brought about by the violation of the territory and sovereignty of free and democratic Finland, by an associated State which we were accustomed of late years to see in the front rank of the defenders of those principles in whose name we are constrained to pass judgment upon it to-day.
But I should be failing in my duty to the great country that I have the honour to represent here if I did not say to you that, as we see it, this condemnation would not have its full meaning or its full scope if the aggression that has led to it were not shown to be closely and indisputably linked with all those previous aggressions that have made it possible.
I cannot, I could not, condemn Russia in the text of a resolution without remembering, for my own part, that another condemnation is in process of execution, and is being executed by our allies and ourselves by force of arms.
I could not have spoken of Finland, I could not have paid homage to that country, and promised it all the assistance we can give, so far as our own necessities allow, without at the same time paying homage to the other victims—Austria, Czecho-Slovakia'and Poland—the echo of whose sufferings you have heard this morning; indeed, it would have been incomprehensible for that echo not to be heard in this discussion.
And so you see that, beyond the present aggression on which alone we have to pronounce to-day, that truth appears which lies at the very foundation of the League of Nations, which is the reason of its existence, and to which it must return—indeed, it is already doing so, as witness the speed and the plainness of our decisions in the present conflict—if it wishes that the great hope that must emerge from this new conflict shall still bear its name: collective security, indivisible collective security.
I seem to remember—not in irony, but with real grief—that it was M. Litvinoff who, here and in the Assembly, so often dwelt upon the indivisible character of collective security. He it was who most persistently propagated that conception, and who deduced its consequences in the definition of the aggressor—the clearest and completest of all the definitions that resulted from labours in which I had too large a share to forget them—which was signed in London by Russia and her neighbours.
It is in the name of that very definition of aggression, which covered everything, even, alas, the circumstances and methods of the present case; it is in order to associate myself, on behalf of my country, with this somewhat tardy awakening of the universal conscience which it is for the League of Nations to turn to account to prevent the list of victims from lengthening, that, without absolving the first and chief author of the present European upheaval, without forgetting the previous aggressions that have made this new aggression possible, I shall vote for the resolution which is submitted to the Council.
Mr. BUTLER. — We have all heard with pleasure the declaration made by M. Paul-Boncour. The League has its own traditions and we are fortunate on this occasion to be inspired by a speech from one who has known the League so long. His speech has placed in its right perspective the act of aggression on Finland which we have met here to consider. The French representative has alluded to the conflict in which his country and mine are comrades in arms, fighting in defence of the principles for which the Covenant was founded. Our responsibilities in meeting here and in the Assembly have been two-fold—first, to answer the appeal for help made by a fellow Member of the League who has been brutally attacked by another Member and, secondly, to maintain and ensure the continuance of the standards of international morality in which we believe and upon which our whole policy is founded.
These responsibilities have already been in a large measure discharged by the Assembly. But the Council has now to perform a duty which is laid upon it by the Covenant. Once the issue which we have to decide has been raised—and you will all remember the manner in which it was raised—the Council has in my view no alternative but to accept the resolution before it. Our decision seems to follow inevitably from the actions of the Soviet Government and from the resolutions of the Assembly, which have so well summarised the discussions before the Special Committee appointed to consider this matter.
The Council is not, in my view, in a position to reach any other decision without stultifying itself and compromising those principles of which it is the guardian. I should like to endorse the words which M. Paul-Boncour used about the re-awakening and the new life which we have evidenced here at this meeting of the Council. Should we fail to discharge the duty laid upon us by the Assembly, the whole world will doubt the reality of our convictions, and the structure which in the present world crisis we are striving to maintain will be dangerously shaken.
Let me now trespass upon your time by making a few general observations. The struggle in which we in the United Kingdom are now engaged has not been on the agenda of our meeting. But His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the French Government had already communicated to all Members of the League through the Secretary-General a statement of the reasons for which they had been obliged to take up arms. As I said in my speech to the Assembly, this present attack which we have been considering follows directly upon previous acts of a similar nature. The movement of world opinion, the moral and material support which has been given to the Finnish cause, is due in a large measure to sympathy and admiration for the Finnish nation. But the strength of the general feeling in the world derives also from the realisation that another blow is being struck at the foundations on which the existence of all of us as independent nations is founded. It appears to us a blow not only against our independence but against those national institutions which we have so patiently evolved within our own boundaries. Wild movements have been loosed which seem to threaten the life of free peoples.
When we discussed last autumn the question of the application of the principles of the Covenant, it was unanimously agreed that recourse to war against a Member of the League, whether immediately affecting any other Member or not, was a matter of concern to the whole League and would not be considered to be a matter to which the Members are entitled to adopt an attitude of indifference. The majority of States Members then declared that they were not bound to apply automatically the measures which the Covenant provides. This view has been generally accepted by the Assembly in considering the Finnish appeal. A full allowance would therefore seem to have been made for the individual views of particular States. But we have to recognise that the issues arising out of recent acts of aggression in Europe are essentially the same, even though they have not all been formally brought before this tribunal. It must not be thought that any one of them can be viewed in isolation.
Many States maintain an attitude of neutrality in the major struggle for freedom which is now being waged. We understand and respect this attitude; but the implications of the present struggle must be clear to all who are inspired by the principles of the Covenant. It is in the light of these general considerations which I have just enunciated that our own attitude at the present meeting has been decided, and necessarily so.
We have not been inspired by prejudice or by vindictive designs. We are unable to depart from the moral position we have long since taken up. In the present circumstances, heavy burdens are laid upon individual Members of the League, and it is difficult for the latter to perform all those tasks which its founders intended. Here at Geneva we are called upon to play a difficult part; but the principles of the Covenant remain and their observance is in the best interests of international society. We do not cling to them out of some old-fashioned belief or desire that the world should never be changed; we adhere to them because they form the best and only inspiration upon which an international order can be based. These principles are now being challenged, and this challenge gives us the opportunity to prove their worth. It will be our duty, in our generation, to make the principles which unite us here prevail.
Dr. Wellington KOO. — In conformity with my declaration in the Assembly this morning, and in the absence of final instructions from my Government, I shall abstain from the vote to be taken on the resolution before the Council.
The PRESIDENT. — The Council will take note of the statements that have just been made and, as abstentions do not count in establishing unanimity, if there are no other observations I shall take it that the draft resolution has been adopted.
The resolution was adopted.
4179. Close of the Session.
The PRESIDENT. — The Council of the League of Nations, at a moment the gravity of which cannot be overemphasised, has assumed its responsibilities in defence of the principles of which it is the guardian.
"Such principles demand respect for corresponding rights to independence, to life and to the possibility of continuous development in the paths of civilisation; they demand, further, fidelity to compacts agreed upon and sanctioned in conformity with the principles of the law of nations.
"The indispensable presupposition, without doubt, of all peaceful intercourse between nations, and the very soul of the juridical relations in force among them, is mutual trust; the expectation and conviction that each party will respect its plighted word; the certainty that both sides are convinced that better is wisdom than weapons of war, and are ready to enter into discussion and to avoid recourse to force or to threats of force in case of delays, hindrances, changes or disputes, because all these things can be the result, not of bad will, but of changed circumstances and of genuine conflicts of interests ... But to consider treaties on principle as ephemeral and tacitly to assume the authority of rescinding them unilaterally when they are no longer to one's advantage would be to abolish all mutual trust among States."
The words I have just quoted are taken from the Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, recently issued by His Holiness Pius XII, in which he appealed to the world conscience. I am sure that no words of mine could add anything to this solemn affirmation of the principles which must be respected if nations are to live at peace with one another, and which are in fact the very principles that are embodied in the Covenant of the League of Nations.
M. PAUL-BONCOUR. — Mr. President, I desire, in the first place, to congratulate you on the wise and deeply moving words with which you have closed so serious a discussion: your quotation adds to the loftiness of your pronouncement. I should like to thank you also for the way in which you have presided over this meeting, and in saying that I am sure I shall be voicing the wishes of all present.
Mr. BUTLER. — I should like to support the words of M. Paul-Boncour in thanking our President and to thank also the Secretary-General.
The PRESIDENT. — I am deeply moved by what the representatives of France and the United Kingdom have been good enough to say, and I should like to thank them very sincerely.
I declare closed the hundred-and-seventh session of the Council.
XV. STATEMENT MADE IN THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECEMBER 13TH, 1939, BY HIS EXCELLENCY M. NIETO CABALLERO, DELEGATE OF COLOMBIA
Finland's appeal raises a moral question, on which Colombia has no hesitation, and which requires that the Assembly declare that Finland has been the victim of unjust and unprovoked aggression on the part of the U.S.S.R.
According to the principles of the Covenant, that declaration should be followed by a demand for the withdrawal of the invading Soviet troops from Finnish territory, in order that the aggression may be brought to an end and that the dispute may be submitted to the procedures provided for in the Covenant.
Colombia is anxious that the establishment of the aggression and the designation of the aggressor should be couched in strong, clear, unambiguous terms, so that the final resolution may produce the desired effects.
To demand a priori the expulsion of the U.S.S.R. from the League of Nations, which would require a unanimous vote of the Council, would perhaps be a mistake, inasmuch as the U.S.S.R. would in that case be released from the obligations imposed by the Covenant and would be placed outside the scope of the Covenant by a binding decision of the Members of the League—which would make it easier for the U.S.S.R. to achieve its aims, and would afford it an opportunity of committing further crimes.
Expulsion, the fourth and last possibility contemplated in Article 16, which defines sanctions, should be looked upon as a last resort, and should not be the first measure adopted, before the procedure prescribed by the Covenant has been exhausted.
Colombia feels as profound an indignation as any other country, and would not desire to be less severe than any other Member of the League in applying the punitive clauses of the Covenant; but, at the same time, she is anxious that the immense dangers that might be involved for other countries by a hasty decision should be carefully borne in mind. The moral and legal problem is the same for all, but the geographical position is different. In the unexampled complexity of the present juncture in international affairs, Colombia will act with equal firmness and tact, leaving not the slightest room for doubting her loyal support for Finland and Finland's cause.
Geneva, December 13th, 1939.
XVI. REPORT OF THE ASSEMBLY, PROVIDED FOR IN ARTICLE 15, PARAGRAPHS 4 AND 10, OF THE COVENANT, SUBMITTED BY THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF THE ASSEMBLY
The first duty of the Assembly, which is seized in virtue of Article 15 of the Covenant, is to endeavour "to effect a settlement of the dispute" referred to it.
The Government of the U.S.S.R. having announced that it had decided not to send representatives to the Assembly, the following telegram was despatched to Moscow on December 11th after the first meeting of the Committee set up by the Assembly:
"The Committee set up by the Assembly, which is seized in virtue of Article 15 of the Covenant, addresses an urgent appeal to the Government of the U.S.S.R. and to the Finnish Government to cease hostilities and open immediate negotiations under the mediation of the Assembly with a view to restoring peace. Finland, which is present, accepts. Should be grateful if you would inform me before to-morrow (Tuesday) evening if the Government of the U.S.S.R. is prepared to accept this appeal and cease hostilities forthwith."
The Government of the U.S.S.R. replied on December 12th as follows:
"The Government of the U.S.S.R. thanks you, Monsieur le President, for kind invitation to take part in discussion of the Finnish question. At the same time, the Government of the U.S.S.R. begs to inform you that it cannot accept this invitation for the reasons set out in the telegram of December 5th from the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs sent in reply to Monsieur Avenol's communication." |1|
In view of the absence of a delegation of the Government of the U.S.S.R. and as a result of the examination of the reasons it adduces in explanation of that absence, it is unfortunately clear that to attempt at the present time to obtain the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of normal peaceful relations between Finland and the U.S.S.R. through mediation and conciliation would be fruitless.
The Assembly has therefore the duty of publishing the report provided for in the Covenant containing a statement of the facts of the dispute and the recommendations which are deemed just and proper in regard thereto".
To establish the circumstances of the dispute, the Assembly has had before it the documents furnished by the Finnish delegation. As the Secretary-General has been apprised of the views of the Soviet Government only through the brief telegram from M. Molotov dated December 4th, 1939, it has been thought desirable, in order to ensure the impartiality of this statement, to refer to the official documents published in the communiqués of the Tass Agency.
Below will be found a statement of the undisputed facts that emerge from the Finnish and Soviet documents and, in the case of disputed points, the versions given by both Governments.
The Moscow Negotiations between Finland and the U.S.S.R. (October 12th-November 13th, 1939).
1. On October 5th, the Finnish Government was invited by the Soviet Government to exchange views on political questions. Finland decided to accept the invitation and send delegates to Moscow.
2. In the circumstances, the news that the Soviet Government had invited the Finnish Government to negotiate with it made a certain impression, not only in Finland, but in many other countries.
On October 11th, just as the Finnish delegation was arriving in Moscow, President Roosevelt sent a personal message to M. Kalinin, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, expressing "the earnest hope that the Soviet Union will make no demands on Finland which are inconsistent with the maintenance and development of amicable and peaceful relations between the two countries and the independence of each".
The Soviet Government replied on October 12th: " I think I should remind you, Mr. President, that the independence of the Finnish Republic as a State was recognised spontaneously by the Soviet Government on December 31st, 1917, and that the sovereignty of Finland is guaranteed by the Treaty of Peace between the R.S.F.S.R. and Finland signed on October 14th, 1920. The above-mentioned acts on the part of the Soviet Government determined the fundamental principles of the relations between the Soviet Union and Finland. It is in accordance with those principles that the present negotiations between the Soviet Government and the Finnish Government are being conducted. Notwithstanding the tendencious versions put about by some who evidently have not the peace of Europe at heart, the sole object of the negotiations in question is to establish closer relations between the Soviet Union and Finland and to strengthen the friendly co-operation between the two countries, in order to ensure the security of the Soviet Union and that of Finland."
3. The Finno-Soviet negotiations opened on October 12th.
The Soviet Government proposed to the Finnish Government the conclusion of a pact of mutual assistance on the same lines as those it had lately concluded with other Baltic States. Finland pointed out that the conclusion of such a pact would be inconsistent with her policy of strict neutrality.
The Soviet Government withdrew this first proposal. Making reference to the safety of the U.S.S.R., and more particularly of Leningrad, it then put forward proposals involving the cession of Finnish territories to the Soviet Union (leasing of the port of Hanko and, in exchange for other territories in Soviet Karelia, cession of certain islands in the Gulf of Finland and of part of the Isthmus of Karelia, to the north of Leningrad, and cession of the western part of the Rybachi Peninsula, on the Arctic Ocean).
At the moment when negotiations were broken off (November I3th), the Finnish Government had announced that it was prepared to make various concessions to meet the wishes of the Soviet Government. Nevertheless, "having regard to the international situation of Finland, her policy of absolute neutrality, and her firm resolve to remain outside any group of great Powers and to hold aloof from any wars and conflicts between them", the Finnish Government could not "consent to the cession of Hanko or any islands situated in the immediate proximity of the Finnish mainland as military bases to any foreign Power". |2|
Nor had the two Governments been able to agree upon the extent of the Finnish territories which should be ceded to the U.S.S.R. in exchange for certain compensations offered by the latter in Soviet Karelia. The difference of opinion concerned the frontier-line which the Soviet Government wished to obtain in the Isthmus of Karelia, to the north of Leningrad.
The Finnish Government considers that it took due account of the desire that the Government of the U.S.S.R. might have to increase the security of Leningrad, that it accepted the proposals made to it so far as practicable possibilities allowed, and that it went as far as it could with proper regard to its own independence, security and neutrality. When, on November 3rd, it submitted its counter-proposals, it pointed out that "the concessions which Finland agrees to make to the U.S.S.R. in order to improve neighbourly relations and ensure peace represent a very heavy sacrifice for the Finnish people, as they affect an area which has been inhabited by a Finnish population since very ancient date and which, for centuries, has formed part of Finland's political territory." |3|
The point of view of the Soviet Government, as expressed in a declaration which the Tass Agency was "authorised" to make on November 11th, is that the Finns not merely showed no inclination to accept the minimum proposals of the U.S.S.R., but, on the contrary, increased their "irreconcilability". The Tass Agency's statement adds that the Finns had increased the number of their divisions in the neighbourhood of Leningrad from two or three to seven, thus "giving proof of their intransigent spirit".
4. On November 13th, the Finno-Soviet negotiations were broken off. The Finnish Government stated that its delegates were returning to Helsinki for fresh instructions. It also wished to discuss the question with Parliament. It was convinced that with good-will it would be possible to find a solution satisfactory to both parties. In any case, as regards its attitude to the U.S.S.R., the Finnish Government "was still anxious to bring the matter to a successful conclusion".
The Mainila Incident: the Soviet Government demands the Withdrawal ol the Finnish Troops.
5. On November 26th, the first incident occurred on the frontier in the Isthmus of Karelia. According to the Soviet version, Finnish artillery suddenly opened fire on Soviet troops near the village of Mainila. Seven shots were fired. There were 4 killed and 9 wounded on the Soviet side. The Soviet troops, however, having received strict orders not to give way to provocation, refrained from retaliating.
According to the Finnish version, the Finnish frontier guard observed the seven gunshots mentioned, which were fired, not from the Finnish, but from the Soviet side. It may have been "an accident which occurred in the course of firing practice". |4|
6. By a note of the same date (November 26th), the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs informed the Finnish Minister at Moscow of the incident, and concluded in these terms:
"In bringing the foregoing to your knowledge, the Soviet Government considers it desirable to stress the fact that, during the recent negotiations with MM. Tanner and Paasikivi, it had directed their attention to the danger resulting from the concentration of large regular forces in the immediate proximity of the frontier near Leningrad. In consequence of the provocative firing on the Soviet troops from Finnish territory, the Soviet Government is obliged to declare now that the concentration of Finnish troops in the vicinity of Leningrad not only constitutes a menace to Leningrad, but is, in fact, an act hostile to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which has already resulted in aggression against the Soviet troops and caused casualties. The Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has no intention of exaggerating the importance of this revolting act committed by troops belonging to the Finnish Army—owing perhaps to a lack of proper guidance on the part of their superiors—but it desires that revolting acts of this nature shall not be committed in future. In consequence, the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, while protesting energetically against what has happened, proposes that the Finnish Government should, without delay, withdraw its troops on the Karelian Isthmus from the frontier to a distance of 20 to 25 kilometres and thus preclude all possibility of a repetition of provocative acts". |5|
7. On November 27th, the Finnish Minister, on the basis of the findings of the enquiry carried out by his Government, "rejected the protest" of the Soviet Government in connection with the Mainila incident, and stated that the alleged hostile act had not been committed by Finland.
Referring to the passage in the Soviet Government's note which alluded to the danger resulting from the concentration of regular forces in the immediate proximity of the frontier near Leningrad, the Minister pointed out that, on the Finnish side, it was principally troops belonging to the frontier guard who were stationed there, and that there were no guns in that area whose range would reach beyond the frontier.
With reference to the Soviet proposal for the withdrawal of troops, the Finnish Government, although there were "no concrete grounds" for such withdrawal, was prepared to open conversations with a view to a mutual withdrawal to a certain distance from the frontier.
Lastly, in order that full light might be thrown on the Mainila incident, the Finnish Government proposed that the frontier commissioners of the two countries on the Karelian Isthmus should be instructed to carry out a joint enquiry, in conformity with the Convention of September 24th, 1928. |6|
The U.S.S.R. declares itself no longer bound by the Pact of Non-aggression.
8. The Soviet Government's reply, dated November 28th, |7| opened with these words: "The Finnish Government's reply to the note from the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dated November 26th, 1939, is a document which reflects the deep-rooted hostility of the Finnish Government towards the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and is the cause of extreme tension in the relations between the two countries."
The Finnish version of the Mainila incident "can be explained only by a desire to mislead public opinion and make light of those casualties".
The refusal to withdraw the Finnish "troops who committed this hostile act", and the demand for the simultaneous withdrawal of the Finnish and Soviet troops in accordance with the formal principle of the equality of the parties revealed the hostile desire to expose Leningrad to danger. While the Soviet troops did not constitute a menace to Finland's vital centres, which were hundreds of kilometres away, the Finnish troops constituted a direct menace to Leningrad, a vital centre of the U.S.S.R. The withdrawal of the Soviet troops by 25 kilometres would mean posting them in the suburbs of Leningrad. The Soviet Government's proposal for the withdrawal of the Finnish troops by 20 to 25 kilometres represented a minimum, since it was not designed to create equality of situation as between the Finnish and Soviet troops, but simply to attenuate the existing disproportion. If the Finnish Government refused to accept that minimum proposal, that meant that its intention was that Leningrad should remain under a direct threat from its troops.
The concentration of a large number of Finnish regular troops near Leningrad was a hostile act against the U.S.S.R., and was incompatible with the Pact of Non-aggression concluded between the two countries.
The Soviet Government's note concluded in the following terms:
"The refusal of the Finnish Government, after the criminal gunfire directed against the Soviet troops, to withdraw its own troops to a distance of 20 to 25 kilometres shows that the Government is desirous of persisting in its hostile attitude towards the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, that it has no intention of complying with the provisions of the Treaty of Non-aggression and that it has decided to keep Leningrad under a perpetual menace.
"The Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics cannot, however, admit that one of the Parties should be allowed to violate the Treaty of Non-aggression, while the other Party respects it. In consequence, the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is obliged to state that it considers itself, as from to-day, released from the obligations ensuing from the Treaty of Non-aggression concluded between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Finland, obligations which are being systematically violated by the Finnish Government."
9. On the same day, November 28th, according to a telegram from the Tass Agency dated the 29th, a frontier incident took place between two patrols in the neighbourhood of the Isthmus of Karelia. In consequence of this incident, the Soviet Government announced that it had strengthened the protection of the frontier in that sector. The Soviet General Staff also reported two other frontier incidents on the same day.
10. On this question of frontier incidents, the responsibility for which is attributed by the Soviet communiqués to the Finnish troops, the Finnish Government points out that, "even during the negotiations at Moscow, the air forces of the U.S.S.R. committed several violations of the territorial integrity of Finland. Between October ioth and November 14th, some thirty such violations were recorded. Finland drew the attention of the U.S.S.R. to this fact through the diplomatic channel, but she was careful not to exaggerate its importance, so as to avoid tension and also in order to facilitate the negotiations then in progress.
With regard to the frontier incidents that took place in the last days of November, she denies the Soviet accusations, and points out that the Finnish troops and frontier guards had been withdrawn to a stated distance from the frontier. |8|
11. November 29th was marked by the following events:
(a) Reply from the Finnish Government to the Note of November 28th, by which M. Molotov rejected the Finnish Proposal for the Mutual Withdrawal of Troops and declared that the U.S.S.R. was thenceforward released from the Obligations of the Pact of Non-aggression.
The Finnish Government regarded the denunciation of that Treaty' as unjustified. Under the 1934 Protocol, the Treaty was to remain in force without the possibility of denunciation until the end of 1945.
Article 5 of the Treaty provided that the procedure of conciliation should be applied in the case of a dispute concerning the question whether the mutual undertaking as to non-aggression had or had not been violated.
The Finnish Government accordingly proposed that a conciliation commission should be summoned. Alternatively, it stated that it was prepared to submit the settlement of the dispute to neutral arbitration.
It was also prepared to come to an understanding with the Government of the U.S.S.R. concerning the withdrawal of the defence troops on the Karelian Isthmus, with the exception of the units of frontier guards and Customs officials, to a distance from Leningrad such that it could no longer be claimed that they threatened the security of that town. |9|
(b) Rupture of Relations between Finland and the U.S.S.R.
In its statement, the Finnish Government explains that this note could not be handed to the Soviet Government because its telegraphic transmission was delayed in Soviet territory and because in the meantime the Finnish Minister was sent for at midnight to the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and informed that the U.S.S.R. no longer proposed to maintain diplomatic relations with Finland.
The rupture of relations was stated to be due to the fact that the Government of the U.S.S.R. could no longer tolerate "attacks on the Soviet troops by the Finnish troops", which were continuing not only on the Karelian Isthmus but also in other frontier regions.
(c) M. Molotov's Speech.
At the moment when the Finnish Minister was notified of the rupture of relations, M. Molotov delivered a broadcast speech, in which he said: |10|
"The hostile policy that the present Finnish Government is pursuing towards our country obliges us to take immediate steps to ensure the external security of the State.... From such a Government and from its mad military clique there is nothing now to be expected but fresh violent provocations.... The Soviet Government has come to the conclusion that it can no longer maintain normal relations with the Finnish Government, and for that reason it has thought it necessary to recall its political and economic representatives immediately from Finland."
The President of the Council of People's Commissars then proceeded to deny the "illintentioned calumnies" of the foreign Press hostile to the U.S.S.R. The Soviet Government had no intention of taking and annexing Finnish territory and, had Finland's policy towards it been friendly, would have been prepared to discuss in a favourable sense even such questions as that of the union of the Karelian people living in the principal districts of the present Soviet Karelia with the nearly-related Finnish people in a single independent Finnish State. Nor had the Government of the U.S.S.R. any intention of infringing the independence of Finland or of interfering in her domestic and foreign affairs.
"We regard Finland", he said, "whatever may be the regime in existence there, as an independent State, sovereign in all its domestic and foreign policy. We are most anxious that the Finnish people should itself decide its internal and external affairs as it thinks best. The peoples of the U.S.S.R. did all that was necessary in the past to create an independent Finland. In the future, too, the peoples of our country are ready to help the Finnish people to secure its free and independent development.
"Nor has the U.S.S.R. any intention of injuring in any degree the interests of other States in Finland. The question of the relations between Finland and other States is entirely one for Finland herself, and not a matter in which the U.S.S.R. considers that it has any right to interfere. The object of the steps we are taking is solely to ensure the security of the U.S.S.R., and particularly of Leningrad, with its 3 1/2 million inhabitants. In the present atmosphere, raised to white heat by the war, we cannot allow the solution of this vital and urgent problem to depend upon the ill-will of those who at present govern Finland. That problem must be solved by the efforts of the U.S.S.R. itself, in friendly co-operation with the Finnish people. We are sure that a favourable solution of this problem of the security of Leningrad will lay the foundations of an indissoluble friendship between the U.S.S.R. and Finland."
Soviet Troops cross the Frontier.
12. On November 30th, at 8 a.m., the troops of the Leningrad military area crossed the frontier on the Isthmus of Karelia and in severalother regions. The order had been given by the High Command of the Red Army, on account, according to the Tass Agency's communiqué, of fresh armed provocations on the part of the Finnish military clique".
According to the same communiqué, these provocations had taken place during the night at various points on the frontier. While Soviet troops were entering Finland, Soviet aircraft dropped bombs on the aerodiromes at Viipuri and Helsinki".
The Finnish Government gives a different version of these events; the Soviet troops crossed the frontier as early as the evening of November 29th, near Pummanki, on the Rybachi Peninsula, and on the morning of the 30th, while the Soviet troops were crossing the frontier at various points, Soviet aircraft bombed not merely the aerodromes but the towns of Helsinki and Viipuri, as well as several other places. |11|
13. On December 2nd, the Tass Agency announced that "M. Kuusinen, President of the Popular Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, has addressed an official declaration to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. concerning the formation of the Popular Government of Finland and has proposed to establish diplomatic relations between the 'Democratic Republic of Finland' and the Soviet Union. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. has decided to recognise the Popular Government of Finland and to establish diplomatic relations between the U.S.S.R. and the 'Democratic Republic of Finland'".
The Finnish Government points out that the reference is to a "puppet government" set up by the U.S.S.R. in the village of Terijoki, near the frontier. It is composed of Finnish communists, most of whom took refuge in Soviet territory after the civil war of 1918. |12|
14. Since that date, while the Soviet Government maintains diplomatic relations and has concluded a "pact of mutual assistance and friendship" with this "popular government", whose powers are limited to the portion of Finnish territory occupied by the Soviet toops, the Finnish Government, reconstituted on the basis of the national union of all parties, and still recognised by all the Powers except the U.S.S.R., is directing the Finnish nation's resistance to the Soviet forces.
Offers of Good Offices and Offers of Negotiations subsequent to the Outbreak of Hostilities.
15. A few hours after the entry of the Soviet troops into Finland, the diplomatic representatives of the United States at Helsinki and at Moscow communicated to the Finnish and Soviet Governments the text of a statement made on the previous day by the United States Secretary of State. According to this statement, the United States Government, "without in any way becoming involved in the merits of the dispute and limiting its interest to the solution of the dispute by peaceful processes only ... would, if agreeable to both Parties, gladly extend its good offices".
This offer was accepted by Finland alone.
The Soviet Government also rejected, on December 4th, a Finnish proposal transmitted by the Minister of Sweden at Moscow for the opening of fresh negotiations with a view to an agreement. The Soviet Government replied that it only recognised the "Popular Government of the Republic of Finland".
16. The existence of this "Popular Government" was also one of the reasons given by the Soviet Government for its refusal to sit on the Council or in the Assembly if they examined Finland's appeal.
The facts set forth above have to be considered in relation to the legal situation arising from the commitments by which the two countries are bound.
Since the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of the Finnish State, the latter has concluded with the U.S.S.R. a number of treaties. Moreover, both States are Parties to the Pact of Paris of 1928 and the Convention of 1933 defining the aggressor, and both are Members of the League of Nations.
(1) The Treaty of Peace signed at Dorpat on October 14th, 1920, between Finland and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic recalls in its Preamble that in 1917 Finland was proclaimed an independent State and that Russia had recognised the independence and sovereignty of the Finnish State within the frontiers of the Grand-Duchy of Finland. This Treaty fixes, inter alia, the frontier "between the States of Russia and Finland", the limit of the territorial waters of the contracting Powers, the military neutralisation of certain Finnish islands in the Gulf of Finland, etc.
(2) As regards the territorial frontier between the two States from Lake Ladoga to the Arctic Ocean, the Republic of Finland and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic signed at Helsinki on June 1st, 1922, a Convention regarding measures taken in order to ensure peace at the frontier. This Convention established and delimited a zone on both sides of and along the frontier. Each of the two contracting Parties undertook, inter alia, with a view to ensuring the inviolability of the frontier, not to maintain within the limits of its zone armed forces other than the regular military units or groups belonging to the regular frontier guard, whose total strength might not exceed 2,500 men on either side. The distribution of the armed forces in the frontier zones was to be carried out under the supervision of each country, which wasto communicate to the other Party information regarding such distribution. The establishment of organisations in the frontier zones for the avowed purpose of preparing, encouraging or supporting attacks on the territory of the other Party was unconditionally prohibited. The Russo-Finnish Central Mixed Commission was to have the duty of supervising the carrying-out of the provisions of the Convention; it was to act through the Frontier Sub-Commissions and Local Supervisory Committees.
(3) As regards the frontier on the Karelian Isthmus, the two Governments exchanged at Helsinki on September 24th, 1928, notes whereby Finland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics each appointed a frontier commissioner in order to prevent the occurrence of local incidents on the common frontier on that Isthmus or to facilitate their prompt settlement. The frontier commissioners of the two Parties were to deal jointly with frontier incidents, including cases where shots had been fired from the territory of one of the Parties at persons belonging to the frontier guard, or at other persons, or into the territory of the other Party. When such incidents occurred, the commissioners were to take appropriate measures to settle them in the easiest and quickest way. Incidents regarding which the commissioners were unable to agree were to be dealt with through diplomatic channels.
(4) Under the General Pact for the Renunciation of War dated August 27th, 1928 (Paris Pact), the Parties solemnly declared in the names of their respective peoples that they condemned recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounced it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another. They further agreed that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or whatever origin they might be, which might arise among them, should never be sought except by pacific means.
(5) Desirous "of confirming and completing the General Pact of August 27th, 1928, for the Renunciation of War", the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Finland signed at Helsinki on January 21st, 3932, a Treaty of Non-aggression and Pacific Settlement of Disputes. Under the terms of Article I of this Treaty, the "High Contracting Parties mutually guarantee the inviolability of the existing frontiers between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Republic of Finland, as fixed by the Treaty of Peace concluded at Dorpat on October 14th, 1920, which shall remain the firm foundation of their relations, and reciprocally undertake to refrain from any act of aggression directed against each other. Any act of violence attacking the integrity and inviolability of the territory or the political independence of the other High Contracting Party shall be regarded as an act of aggression, even if it is committed without declaration of war and avoids warlike manifestations". A "Protocol to Article I" maintains fully in force "the Agreement of June 1st, 1922, regarding Measures ensuring the inviolability of the Frontiers". Under Article 5, the High Contracting Parties declare that they will always endeavour to settle in a spirit of justice any disputes of whatever nature or origin which may arise between them, and will resort exclusively to pacific means of settling such disputes. For this purpose, the High Contracting Parties undertake to submit any disputes which may arise between them after the signature of the Treaty, and which it may not have been possible to settle through diplomatic proceedings within a reasonable time, to a procedure of conciliation before a joint conciliation comnssion. Conciliation procedure shall also be applied in the event of any dispute as to the application or interpretation of a convention concluded between the High Contracting Parties, and particularly the question whether the mutual undertaking as to non-aggression has or has not been violated.
In the Protocol of Signature, the High Contracting Parties declare that subsequent denunciation of the Treaty before its termination or annulment shall neither cancel nor restrict the undertakings arising from the Pact for the Renunciation of War signed at Paris on August 27th, 1928.
(6) The Conciliation Commission provided for in Article 5 of the Treaty of Non-aggression of January 21st, 1932, was set up by a Convention signed at Helsinki on April 22nd, 1932.
(7) Finland acceded on January 31st, 1934, to the Convention for the Definition of Aggression concluded in London on July 3rd, 1933, between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and various other Powers immediately adjacent to it. In the Preamble to that Convention, the parties declare that they deem it necessary, in the interest of the general security, to define aggression as specifically as possible in order to obviate any pretext whereby it might be justified; they note that all States have an equal right to independence, security, the defence of their territories and the free development of their institutions.
Under Article I, each of the High Contracting Parties undertakes to accept in its relations with each of the other Parties .... "the definition of aggression as explained in the report dated May 24th, 1933, of the Committee on Security Questions (Politis Report) to the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, which report was made in consequence of the Soviet delegation's proposal".
Under Article II, the aggressor in an armed conflict shall, subject to the agreements in force between the parties to the dispute, be considered to be that State which is the first to commit any of the following actions:
(2) Invasion by its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State;
(3) Attack by its land, naval, or air forces, with or without a declaration of war, on the territory, vessels or aircraft of another State;
(4) Naval blockade of the coast or ports of another State.
Article III stipulates that no political, military, economic or other consideration may serve as an excuse or justification for the aggression referred to in Article II. Under the terms of the Annex to this Article III, the High Contracting Parties, desiring, "subject to the express reservation that the absolute validity of the rule laid down in Article III ... shall be in no way restricted", to furnish certain indications for determining the aggressor, declare that no act of aggression within the meaning of Article II of the Convention can be justified on either of the following grounds:
A. — The internal condition of a State: e.g., its political, economic or social structure; alleged defects in its administration; disturbances due to strikes, revolutions, counterrevolutions, or civil war.
B. — The international conduct of a State: e.g., the violation or threatened violation of the material or moral rights or interests of a foreign State or its nationals; the rupture of diplomatic or economic relations; ... frontier incidents not forming any of the cases of aggression specified in Article II.
The accession of Finland to this Convention for the Definition of Aggression was given in virtue of the attached Protocol of Signature dated July 3rd, 1933, which reads as follows:
"It is hereby agreed between the High Contracting Parties that, should one or more of the other States immediately adjacent to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics accede in the future to the present Convention, the said accession shall confer on the State or States in question the same rights and shall impose on them the same obligations as those conferred and imposed on the ordinary signatories."
(8) The Treaty of Non-aggression and Pacific Settlement of Disputes concluded between Finland and the U.S.S.R. on January 21st, 1932, was extended to December 31st, 1945, by a Protocol signed at Moscow on April 7th, 1934.
(9) By Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Members of the League agree that, if there should arise between them any dispute likely to lead to a rupture, they will submit the matter either to arbitration or judicial settlement or to enquiry by the Council, and they agree in no case to resort to war until three months after the award by the arbitrators or the judicial decision or the report by the Council.
If the attitude and the acts of the two Governments in the course of the last few weeks are considered with reference to international commitments, the conclusions reached are as follows:
I. In the course of the various stages of the dispute the Finnish Government has not rejected any peaceful procedure.
(1) It agreed to enter into direct negotiations with the Soviet Government, although the invitation it received from that Government at the beginning of October contained no explanation of the nature or scope of the negotiations contemplated.
In the course of those negotiations, although it was entitled to invoke the treaties it had signed with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to reject any proposal infringing the territorial integrity of Finland, it agreed to contemplate cessions of territory, and when it received the Soviet proposals, it submitted counter-proposals which, in its opinion, went as far as it was possible for it to go.
(2) When the dispute arose regarding the Mainila incident, the Finnish Government proposed that the frontier commissioners of the two countries should jointly proceed to carry out an enquiry, as provided for in the above-mentioned Exchange of Notes dated September 24th, 1928.
(3) Faced with the denunciation by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of the Non-aggression
Treaty of January 21st, 1932—the denunciation being based on the accusation that Finland had systematically violated that Treaty—the Finnish Government, in a note which, owing to the rupture of diplomatic relations by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it was not possible to hand over at Moscow in time, asked for the application of the conciliation procedure laid down by that Treaty for cases of a dispute as to whether the mutual non-aggression undertaking had been violated.
(4) In the same note (which could not be handed in at Moscow) the Finnish Government proposed the convening of a conciliation commission or, alternatively, neutral arbitration.
(5) When requested by the Soviet Government on November 26th to remove its frontier troops on the Isthmus of Karelia forthwith to a distance of 20-25 kilometres, the Finnish Government replied that it was ready to enter into negotiations for a reciprocal withdrawal to a certain distance from the frontier.
The Soviet Government having made it known that its proposal regarding the withdrawal of Finnish troops to a distance of 20-25 kilometres was a minimum proposal, the Finnish Government, in its note of November 29th, which could not be handed to the Soviet Government, declared itself ready to come to an agreement with the latter for the removal of the defence troops on the Karelian Isthmus, except frontier guards and Customs officials, to a distance from Leningrad such that they could no longer be held to menace the security of that city.
(6) After the outbreak of hostilities, the Finnish Government accepted the offer of good offices made by the United States Government.
(7) On December 3rd, the Finnish Government referred the matter to the Council of the League of Nations under Articles 11 and 15 of the Covenant.
On December 4th, it vainly endeavoured to transmit to the Soviet Government, through the Minister of Sweden at Moscow, a proposal for the opening of fresh negotiations for an agreement.
II. The attitude and acts of the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, on the other hand, have been incompatible with the commitments entered into by that country.
(1) In the course of the negotiations at Moscow with the Finnish Government, it made to that Government proposals for cessions of territory. It stated that these proposals "represented its minimum conditions, its attitude having been dictated by the fundamental security requirements of the Soviet Union and, particularly, of the city of Leningrad". |13|
Under the terms of Article I of the Treaty of Non-aggression of January 21st, 1932, the two countries had, however, undertaken mutually to guarantee the inviolability of the existing frontiers as fixed by the Treaty of Peace concluded at Dorpat on October 14th, 1920, which was to remain the firm foundation of their relations.
(2) After the Mainila incident, the Soviet Government insisted on the unilateral withdrawal of the Finnish frontier troops on the Karelian Isthmus to a distance of 20 to 25 kilometres. It made no reply to the Finnish Government's proposal that the commissioners of the two countries should be instructed to carry out a joint enquiry as provided for in the Exchange of Notes of September 24th, 1928.
(3) The Soviet Government interpreted the Finnish Government's refusal to accept immediately a unilateral withdrawal of its forces for 20-25 kilometres as indicating the wish of the latter Government to keep Leningrad under a constant menace. On the ground that the Finnish Government was systematically violating the Treaty of Non-aggression, the Soviet Government declared that it regarded itself as released from the undertakings assumed by it under that Treaty. The Treaty in question, which had been prolonged by the Protocol of April 7th, 1934, until December 31st, 1945, laid down, however, that a procedure of conciliation would be applied in the event of any dispute on the question whether the mutual undertakings as to non-aggression had or had not been violated.
(4) Even if one of the Parties could, without first resorting to the conciliation procedure, have declared that the Treaty of Non-aggression no longer existed because the other Party had violated it, the Protocol of Signature of January 21st, 1932, declares that subsequent denunciation of this Treaty before its termination shall neither cancel nor restrict the undertakings arising from the Pact for the Renunciation of War signed on August 27th, 1928, which the Treaty of Non-aggression between Finland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was intended to confirm and complete.
(5) The invasion of Finland by the land forces and the bombardments carried out by the naval and air forces of Soviet Russia are incompatible with the Pact for the Renunciation of War of August 27th, 1928, and with the provisions of Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
(6) It is impossible to argue that the operations of the Soviet forces in Finland do not constitute resort to war within the meaning of the Pact of Paris or Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Finland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are bound by the Convention for the Definition of Aggression signed at London on July 3rd, 1933. According to Article II of this Convention, the aggressor in an armed conflict shall be considered to be that State which is the first to invade by its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, the territory of another State or to attack by its land, naval or air forces, with or without a declaration of war, the territory, vessels or aircraft of another State.
Under the terms of Article III "no political, military, economic or other consideration may serve as an excuse or justification for the aggression referred to in Article II".
The order to enter Finland was given to the Soviet troops on the ground of "further armed provocation". The reference was to frontier incidents or alleged frontier incidents. In the Annex, however, to Article II of the Convention, it is declared that no act of aggression within the meaning of Article II of the Convention can be justified by frontier incidents not forming any of the cases of aggression specified in Article II.
(7) After having broken off diplomatic relations with the Finnish Government and rejected the good offices of the United States Government, the Soviet Government refused to send representatives to the Council or Assembly, on the ground that it was not in a state of war with Finland and was not threatening the Finnish people with war. This affirmation was based, inter alia, on the fact that the Soviet Government maintained peaceful relations with the "Democratic Republic of Finland" and that it had signed with the latter, a Pact of Assistance and Friendship "settling all the questions which the Soviet Government had fruitlessly discussed with the delegates of the former Finnish Government, now divested of its power".
The so-called "former Finnish Government" is the regular Government of the Republic of Finland. It is composed of all the important parties in the Parliament, whose unanimous confidence it enjoys. The Parliament is freely elected by the Finnish people. The last elections took place in July of this year. The Government is thus based on respect for democratic institutions.
The Soviet Government invokes in support of its attitude the relations which it maintains with a so-called government of its own creation which cannot, either de jure or de facto, be regarded as the Government of the Republic of Finland. That fact therefore cannot serve the Soviet Government as justification for its refusal to follow, for the settlement of its dispute with Finland, the procedure laid down in Article 15 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Furthermore, in so refusing, the Soviet Government is failing to observe its obligation to respect the sovereignty and independence of Finland, and is also directly contravening the very definite obligations laid down in the Convention for the Definition of Aggression, which it signed and in the preparation of which it took a decisive part.
The whole object of this Convention, indeed, is to ensure that no political, military, economic or other consideration shall serve as an excuse or justification for aggression. The Annex to Article III specifies that aggression cannot be justified either by the international conduct of a State, for example: the violation or threatened violation of the material or moral rights or interests of a foreign State; or by the internal condition of a State, for example: its political, economic or social structure; alleged defects in its administration; disturbances due to strikes, revolutions, counter-revolutions or civil war.
It follows from these findings that the Soviet Government has violated, not only its special political agreements with Finland, but also Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Pact of Paris.
Whereas, by the aggression which it has committed against Finland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has failed to observe not only its special political agreements with Finland but also Article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Pact of Paris;
And whereas, immediately before committing that aggression, it denounced, without legal justification, the Treaty of Non-aggression which it had concluded with Finland in 1932, and which was to remain in force until the end of 1945:
Solemnly condemns the action taken by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics against the State of Finland;
Urgently appeals to every Member of the League to provide Finland with such material and humanitarian assistance as may be in its power and to refrain from any action which might weaken Finland's power of resistance;
Authorises the Secretary-General to lend the aid of his technical services in the organisation of the aforesaid assistance to Finland;
And likewise authorises the Secretary-General, in virtue of the Assembly resolution of October 4th, 1937, to consult non-member States with a view to possible co-operation.
Whereas, notwithstanding an invitation extended to it on two occasions, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has refused to be present at the examination of its dispute with Finland before the Council and the Assembly;
And whereas, by thus refusing to recognise the duty of the Council and the Assembly as regards the execution of Article 15 of the Covenant, it has failed to observe one of the League's most essential covenants for the safeguarding of peace and the security of nations;
And whereas it has vainly attempted to justify its refusal on the ground of the relations which it has established with an alleged Government which is neither de jure nor de facto the Government recognised by the people of Finland in accordance with the free working of their institutions;
And whereas the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has not merely violated a covenant of the League, but has by its own action placed itself outside the Covenant;
And whereas the Council is competent under Article 16 of the Covenant to consider what consequences should follow from this situation:
Recommends the Council to pronounce upon the question.
PRESS COMMUNIQUÉ — TASS AGENCY
Moscow, November 30th. — On November 29th, at midnight, Molotov, President of the Council of People's Commissars, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R., broadcast the following speech:
"Men and women, citizens of the Soviet Union, the hostile policy pursued by the present Finnish Government towards our country obliges us to take immediate steps to ensure the external security of the State. As you know, during these last two months, the Soviet Government has patiently carried on negotiations with the Finnish Government on proposals which, in the present alarming international situation, it regarded as an indispensable minimum to ensure the safety of the country, and particularly that of Leningrad. During those negotiations, the Finnish Government has adopted an uncompromising and hostile attitude towards our country. Instead of amicably seeking a basis of agreement, those who at present govern Finland, out of deference to the foreign imperialists who stir up hatred against the Soviet Union, have followed a different path. Despite all our concessions, the negotiations have led to no result. Now we see the consequences. During the last few days, on the frontier between the U.S.S.R. and Finland, the Finnish military clique has begun to indulge in revolting provocations, not stopping short of artillery fire upon our troops near Leningrad, which has caused serious casualties among the Red troops.
"The attempts made by our Government to prevent the renewal of these provocations by means of practical proposals addressed to the Finnish Government have not merely met with no support but have again been countered by the hostile policy of the governing circles in Finland. As you have learnt from the Soviet Government's note of yesterday, they have replied to our proposals by a hostile refusal, by an insolent denial of the facts, by an attitude of mockery towards the casualties we have suffered, and by an unconcealed desire to continue to hold Leningrad under the direct threat of their troops. All this has definitely shown that the present Finnish Government, embarrassed by its anti-Soviet connections with the imperialists, is unwilling to maintain normal relations with the U.S.S.R. It continues to adopt a hostile position towards our country and will take no heed of the stipulations of the Treaty of Non-aggression concluded between the two countries, being anxious to keep our glorious Leningrad under a military menace. From such a Government and from its insensate military clique nothing is now to be expected but fresh insolent provocations.
"For this reason, the Soviet Government was compelled yesterday to declare that it now considered itself released from the engagements which it had undertaken under the Treaty of Non-aggression concluded between the U.S.S.R. and Finland and which had been irresponsibly violated by the Finnish Government. In view of the fresh attacks made by Finnish troops against Soviet troops on the Soviet-Finnish frontier, the Government now finds itself compelled to take new decisions. The Government can no longer tolerate the situation created, for which the Finnish Government is entirely responsible. The Soviet Government has come to the conclusion that it could no longer maintain normal relations with the Finnish Government, and for this reason has found it necessary to recall immediately its political and economic representatives from Finland. Simultaneously, the Government gave the order to the Supreme Command of the Red Army and Navy to be prepared for all eventualities and to take immediate steps to cope with any new attacks on the part of the Finnish military clique...
6. See IX, paper 11, page 526. The exchange of notes referred to by the Finnish Government is published in the Treaty Series of the League of Nations, Vol. LXXXII, page 64. See below, B (3), page 537. [Back]
Source: League of Nations Official Journal, Nov.-Dec. 1939 (107th Session of the Council - Second Meeting 14/XII/1939), pp. 505-508, 531-541.
Editorial Note: This is a true copy of an extract (pp. 505-508, 531-541) of the the above-referenced original document. This document is reproduced in Benjamin B. Ferencz's work "Defining International Aggression - The Search for World Peace", Vol. 1, as Document No. 16.
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