Raportul diplomatului englez Leeper despre situația din România din 26 ianuarie 1918

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Raportul diplomatului englez Leeper despre situația din România din 26 ianuarie 1918.

Secret Intelligence Bureau

Department of Information
DRW/020

Weekly report on Rumania XX
(February 7th, 1918)

The inevitable clash between Rumania and the Bolshevik Government in Petrograd, foreshadowed in last report, had now culminated in a declaration of war by Bolsheviks on Rumania. Mr Trotsky, in his announcement of the opening hostilities, sums up his case against the Rumanian “oligharchy” which, he says, “in its dishonesty and criminality forms a clique the like of which cannot be found on the face of our planet, though that is far from being of virgin purity. The destruction of this gang is a matter of honour for the democracy of Europe”. The two concrete grounds ofly attack on the Rumanian authorities that the Bolshevik Government alleges are 1) the action of the Rumanian authorities towards the Russian force in Rumania, and 2) the interference and contemplated interference of the Rumanians in Russian affairs, particularly their invasion of Bessarabia and their association with the Ukrainian Rada and other antiBolshevik movements in Russia. These had best be examined separately.

  1. Rumanian Action against Russian Troops in Moldavia.

In the last Report  the determination of the Rumanian authorities to disarm and dismiss from the country such Russian forces as they considered dangerous to internal order was considered from the point of view of the likelihood of involving Rumania in hopeless complications with Russia. This has in many cases succeeded. The war-weary troops have willingly abandoned their arms in exchange merely for a receipt and free passage back to Russia. In other cases there has been trouble: the 9th Army announced its intention of marching with all its material of war through Iași; the 6th Army Corps attacked the Rumanians at Fălticeni, and the Siberian forces at Galatz began bombardment of the town. One of the chief grounds for Trotsky’s complaint against the Rumanian Government is that they have discriminated between Bolshevik and non-Bolshevik troops in Rumania. There is, possibly, justification for this complaint, though the Rumanian answer would be that if they are on friendly terms with non-Bolshevik elements it is because these are willing to help them to defend the country and behave properly towards the civilian population. As to the respective strengths of the Bolsheviks and other parties among the Russians on the Russian front it is very difficult to give any accurate information. In the elections military authorities have necessarily modelled their action on that of General Shcherbachev. On December 8, for instance, they joined in the general armistice arranged with the Germans, thought they carefully pointed out at the time that this armistice had for them no political significance whatsoever and that they were unable to join in peace negotiations which might compromise the Rumanian Government in the eyes of its Allies. The armistice was prolonged till January 14 and no has been extended till February 11. Through General Scherbachev the Rumanians have been in touch with the Ukrainian Rada. Possibly they have been guilty of misjudging the political situation and indulging in unreasonable hopes of the strength of the Rada’s position in the Ukraine and of the readiness of the Ukrainians to continue the war against the Central Powers. They can hardly, however, be criticised for such a mistaken judgement (if it prove mistaken), since the Allied Powers, and particularly the French, held the same views. The Rada stil attaches great importance to the support of the Rumanian army; possibly the later should be wary about accepting all the invitations of the Rada to advance into Russian territory except insofar as this advanced is dictated by the urgent necessity for securing Rumanian food depots in the Ukraine generally and the Odessa region in particular. As to what course will be taken must depend on the result of the military operations against the Bolsheviks.

The Bessarabian Situation

A more immediate question is the military intervention of the Rumanians in Bessarabia. In previous reports some account has been given of the growth of Bessarabian National Movement. During the month of November this movement crystallized in the formation of a Provisional Government called Sfatul Țării; last November for the constituent assembly Russian soldiers on the Rumanian front returned 12 Social Revolutionary deputies, 3 Bolsheviks and 4 Ukrainians. Since then the proportion has probably changed and it is quite probably that the numbers of the Bolsheviks have considerably increased. Rumanian calculations put them at about 200.000, but possibly there are far more than this. There is, however, every reason to think that Rumanian army will not have very much difficulty in dealing with the refectory elements if they are able to do so without intervention from outside. In the first brushes between the Rumanians and Bolsheviks in Rumania the latter have shown a willingness to surrender and a lack of military organisation which, from the Rumanian point of view, offers a promise of a speedy and successful termination to the crisis. The question of the Rumanian’s ability, however, to hold out against a general Bolshevik offensive from Russia and the possible renewal of a Austro-German campaign is another matter and must be considered later.

2) Romanian “interference” in Russia

Trotski’s second ground for complaint against the Rumanians is that they have allied themselves with elements working against the Russian Revolution in Russia itself. He is alluding to the understanding between the Rumanian Government and the Ukrainian Rada and to the action of the Rumanians in Bessarabia. As to the first point it is true that the Rumanians have been working with the Rada through de medium of General Scherbachev who, till the other day, was recognised even by the Bolshevik Government as Commander-in-Chief of the Rumanian front. It is difficult to say on what ground even the Bolsheviks could have expected the Rumanians to do anything else but co-operate with the General in formal command of the Russian forces in Rumania. The Rumanian Council of the Land consists of 150 delegates from various representative bodies in the country. The Bolsheviks criticised this body as a Bourgeois Assembly which did not reflect the wishes of the peasant and proletarian classes, and their attitude towards it was practically that of their attitude towards the Ukrainian Rada. On paper at least the Council has a thoroughly democratic appearance: the bulk of the delegates are either representative of the soldiers or peasants. Moldavian soldiers in Bessarabia, for instance, have 36 delegates; other scattered military units are represented by 8; the Provincial Council of the Peasants has elected 31. The different nationalities of the Bessarabia are also given adequate representation: the Ukrainians 15, the Jewish Bund 13, Germans 2, Bulgars and Gagautzi (Christianised Tatars) 5, Poles, Greeks and Armenians 1 each; the remainder are representatives of the various Zemstva and national societies of the province. The Social Democrat and Social Revolutionary parties, however, are only represented by one delegate each and this is presumably the justification of the Bolsheviks’ attack on the Council as an antirevolutionary body. They refuse to recognise such a Council and will only treat with a government supported by a Constituent Assembly, presumably elected by Bolsheviks Soviets. On December 15 the Council declared that it represented the “Moldavia Republic” with full independence of action till such time as a Russian Federal Republic should be formed. Its programme is, on paper, an extremely advanced one. It provides for universal, equal and proportional suffrage; for the transfer of all the land to the peasants without compensation to the landlords; for the equality of all races, creeds and languages; and “for peace without annexations and indemnities on the principle of complete self-determination of peoples in agreement with the Allies and all the peoples of the Russian Federal Republic”. The Bolshevik answer to this would be that the Rada made similar promises, but that they were merely a sop to democratic feeling and intended as a blind to cloak their protection of the interests of the landlords and bourgeoisie. The Council arrogates to itself full powers in Bessarabia until the election and meeting of the Constituent Assembly. Its Executive body is called the “Council of General Directors”, responsible to the Sfatul Țării and consisting of 10 Ministers. The urgent questions confronting them they state to be the suppression of anarchy, the provisioning of the country and the control of the deputies’ mandates. It is to secure the first two objects that they have invited the Rumanian armies to enter Bessarabia. Bolshevik troops in Bessarabia, as in Moldavia, have looted the villages and seized on food supplies, and in the interests of both the Bessarabian and Rumanian Government it was necessary to secure control on the latter. Since the Bessarabian Council disposes of only small forces (certainly well under 40,000 men and probably considerably less), they were unable themselves to cope with the problem. Accordingly by their invitation several Rumanian divisions have occupied various points in the country, especially Kishinev and Bolgrad. Bessarabia is not, however, yet cleared of Bolshevik elements and the Rumanian position is not yet secure.

Probable Results of the “War”

Hostilities between the Bolshevik and Rumanian Government were formally begun on January 27 (considerable fighting had already taken place). It would appear to be certain that they are bound to take an acute form before any accommodation can be reached. Trotsky declares himself to be convinced –  and there is every reason to suppose that he is genuinely convinced – that he is taking action against an “oligarchy steeped in crime” and is interfering in Rumania in the interests of the Rumanian people as a whole. He, therefore, obviously hopes that his intervention will be followed by a spread of Bolshevism in the Rumanian army akin to its spread in the Ukraine. This is, of course, a possibility, but it seems most improbable. In the first place, the moral and discipline of the Rumanian army are higher than ever they were and it is unlikely that they can be so easily overthrown. Secondly, the pure theory of Social Democracy is practically unknown among the Rumanian peasants, for in the Rumania there is practically no Rumanian town proletariat and the Rumanian peasant is far more interested in increasing his small independent holding of land then introducing any system of State communism. Thirdly, the old distrust and dislike of Russia in Rumania has been so accentuated, first by the treachery of the Tsarist Government towards Rumania, which, rightly or wrongly, is an article of faith with every Rumanian, and secondly by the abandonment by revolutionary Russia of its promised military support of Rumania, by the influence of indiscipline and out rage on the part of Russian troops in Rumania, as to prove a counterweight to any of the Bolshevik Government overtures. The mere fact that Bolshevism in Russian in origin militates against its success in Rumania today. It seems likely, therefore, that Rumanian army will put up a strong resistance against any Bolshevik offensive. There is, moreover, reason to suppose that they will be successful in maintaining this resistance. They are far better organised in discipline then any troops the Bolsheviks can dispose of and they are under capable military leaders. There are two weaknesses, however, in their position: 1) the shortage of food. Even with the supplies which they may succeed in guarding in Bessarabia, where, fortunately, last year’s harvest was a good one, the Rumanians will hardly have sufficient, and they will probably find it necessary to occupy parts of Southern Russia. The danger of extending their activities too far into Russia must, of course, be considered, though if these are confined to Odessa and the Government of Kherson they might perhaps be safe. 2) The renewal at this moment of an Austro-German-Bulgarian offensive against them. It is hard to say whether this is probable or even likely as there are internal conditions, more especially in Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, but also in Germany, which might render a renewed campaign against Rumania most inacceptable to public opinion. If, however, the military party in Germany is strong enough to take such a decision and is able to dispose of adequate troops to carry it out successfully, that Rumanians would be placed in a most perilous position. In such case, since the securing of their food supplies against the Bolsheviks is a vital necessity, they would probably be quite unable to cope with the German offensive on a large scale. Policy, therefore, might suggest the advisability in such a case of their proposing to open negotiations with the Central Powers; time would thereby be gained and if the Entente Powers were kept informed of the progress of negotiations much interesting information might be elicited. It is hard to see how, short of a complete capitulation of the Rumanian Government and army, which would only be the result of a pronounced defeat, the negotiations could be successful. The Dobrogean question and the status of the Rumanian army and Government, for instance, would prove hard to settle. Negotiations would, therefore, probably be prolonged almost indefinitely, and time would be gained for the Rumanians to secure themselves against the Bolsheviks alike from a military and economic point of view.

At present there Rumanians quite recognise that, owing to their isolated position, there is no likelihood of receiving material assistance from the Western Powers. They live, however, in the hope and expectation that their Entente Allies will make a strong protest to the Bolshevik Government as to the unreasonableness of their attitude towards Rumania; and what they are looking for more than anything else is that a public statement should be issued to the Rumanian nation more categorical than has yet been made, i.e. to the effect that the whole question of the reunion, should they wish it, in one State of the Rumanian race should be taken up and supported by the Entente Powers. President Wilson’s recent speech, for instance, caused consternation in Rumania, where it was considered to be an entire abandonment of Rumania’s national claims. Such unconditional support of the just aspirations of the Rumanian people would more than counter-balance in their eyes  any offers from the Central Powers; but if no such promise from the Entente Powers is forthcoming it is hard to see what inducement can be offered to Rumania not only to continue the fighting, but to refrain from linking up their fortunes politically and economically after the war with Central Powers. The main thing is to maintain the moral of the Rumanian army and people, and this can only be maintained by some such categorical assurance that their past and future efforts will not have been wasted, in that they will have secured the full democratic solution of their national questions.

Rezumat în românește

Despre ostilitățile deschise de guvernul sovietic față de România. Învinuirile formulate de Petrograd: 1) acțiunile represive întreprinse de autoritățile române față de forțele armate rusești; 2) amestecul României în afacerile interne ale Rusiei, cu deosebire prin ocuparea Basarabiei și colaborarea cu Rada ucraineană și alte mișcări antibolșevice din Rusia. – Explicațiile și contraargumentele autorului raportului: 1) în privința acțiunilor represive; 2. în legătură cu amestecul României în treburile Rusiei: relațiile cu generalul Șcerbacev și cu Rada ucraineană, românii au acționat potrivit vederilor Aliaților și în special ale Franței; situația din Basarabia, dezvoltarea mișcării naționale române, caracterul profund democratic al administrației ținutului (Sfatul Țării și Consiliul Directorilor Generali). Motivele care au determinat apelul făcut la ajutorul armatei române. – De ce o bolșevizare a armatei române este greu de presupus (motive: 1, 2, 3, 4). Se subliniază buna organizare a armatei, dar și două mari primejdii care amenință (lipsa de hrană și perspectiva reînnoirii ofensivei austro-germano-bulgare). Pentru preîntâmpinarea celei din urmă, Leeper consideră necesară intrarea României în negocieri cu Puterile Centrale. Apreciază că datoria Aliaților este de a da românilor asigurări, mai categorice ca până atunci, cu privire la înfăptuirea idealului lor național. Dezamăgirea produsă de discursul președintelui Wilson. Conchide că un sprijin necondiționat al Aliaților pentru împlinirea aspirațiilor românești ar valora în ochii românilor mai mult ca orice ofertă din partea Puterilor Centrale.