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To the People's Secretariat, Ukrainian Soviet Republic


February 24, 1918

Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920

From People's Commissar Stalin, on behalf of the Council of People's Commissars.

The day before yesterday, February 22, we received the German Government's peace terms. They are very severe, one might say ferocious, and the Germans insist on their acceptance within forty-eight hours. Meanwhile, German detachments are advancing on Revel and Pskov, threatening Petrograd, and our troops definitely fail to offer resistance. I do not know whether these terms are known to you. We broadcast them by radio. Here are the major points.

"Clause four. Russia shall immediately conclude peace with the Ukrainian People's Republic. Russian troops and Red Guards shall be immediately withdrawn from the Ukraine and Finland." "Russian warships in the Black Sea, etc., shall be immediately withdrawn to Russian ports and remain there until the conclusion of general peace, or be disarmed." "Commercial navigation in the Black Sea and other seas shall be resumed, as was envisaged in the armistice agreement. Mine-sweeping operations shall be begun immediately."

"Clause three. Russian troops and Red Guards shall be immediately withdrawn from Livonia and Estland, which shall be occupied by German police until the state of affairs in the country guarantees public security and order in these parts. All inhabitants arrested for political reasons shall be immediately set at liberty."

"Clause five. Russia shall do all in her power to ensure immediately the systematic restitution to Turkey of her eastern Anatolian provinces, and shall recognize the abolition of the Turkish capitulations."

Then follow clauses concerning a trade agreement, patterned on the former Rada's treaty with Austria-Hungary, with which you are familiar.

In general, it must be said that the terms are incredibly ferocious. We believe that the clause on the Ukraine implies not the restoration of the Vinnichenko Government, which in itself is of no value to the Germans, but the exertion of very definite pressure on us with a view to compelling you and us to accept the treaty of the former Rada with Austria-Hungary, since what the Germans want is not Vinnichenko, but the exchange of manufactures for grain and ores.

We assess the present state of affairs arising out of the Germans' advance and the flight of our troops as follows: after having overthrown our own imperialists, we have, owing to the slowness of the revolutionary movement in the West, the instability of our troops, and the unparalleled voracity of the German imperialists, temporarily fallen into the clutches of foreign imperialism, against which we must now muster our forces for waging a patriotic war with the hope of an unleashing of the revolutionary forces in the West, which in our opinion is inevitable. In order to muster our forces we need a certain minimum respite, and this even a ferocious peace could provide. We must under no circumstances cherish illusions. We must have the courage to face the facts and admit that we have temporarily fallen into the clutches of German imperialism. It was by these considerations that the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets was guided when it decided today at three in the morning to conclude peace on these ferocious terms and instructed the Council of People's Commissars to send a delegation to Brest, which was done today. The C.E.C. decided that only in this way could the Soviet regime be preserved. Meanwhile we must prepare, and thoroughly prepare, for waging a sacred war against German imperialism.

We are all of the opinion that your People's Secretariat should send its own delegation to Brest and there declare that if Vinnichenko's adventure is not supported by the Austrians and Germans, the People's Secretariat will not object to the basic provisions of the treaty concluded by the former Kiev Rada. Such a step on your part would, firstly, stress the ideological and political brotherhood of the Soviets of the South and the North, and, secondly, preserve the Soviet regime in the Ukraine, which is an immense asset to the international revolution as a whole. We should like you to understand us and agree with us concerning these cardinal issues of the unhappy peace.

I await an immediate reply on two points: will you send delegates today to Petrograd or, more simply, straight to Brest for joint negotiations with the Germans? —that is the first question. Secondly, do you share our view regarding the acceptability of the Vinnichenko treaty, but without Vinnichenko and his gang? I await a reply to these questions, so that I may prepare the credentials and arrange for your journey to Brest.

People's Commissar

J. Stalin

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