Trotsky’s reply to the statement of the British Embassy on the Soviet peace proposals, 30th November 1917

REPLY FROM TROTSKY, COMMISSAR FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TO THE STATEMENT OF THE BRITISH EMBASSY ON THE SOVIET PEACE PROPOSALS

30 November 1917
Trotsky, iii, 2, p. 183

We consider it necessary to make the following explanation, on the basis of information received by us in the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, concerning the statement issued by the British Embassy.

An open proposal for an immediate armistice was made to all peoples, allied and enemy, by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies on 26 October [8 November]. Thus three days before the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs sent the note, the Allied Governments and Embassies were fully and correctly informed of the steps which the Soviet Government proposed to take. It is clear, therefore, that the People’s Commissar had absolutely no interest in making his note known to the German authorities before making it known to the Allied Embassies. The note addressed to the Allies and the orders telegraphed to General Dukhonin were written and sent simultaneously. If it is true that the Embassies received the note later than Dukhonin, that is explained entirely and exclusively by secondary technical reasons wholly unrelated to the policy of the Council of People’s Commissars.

There is no doubt, however, that the Council of People’s Commissars made its appeal to the German military authorities independent of the approval or disapproval of the Allied Governments. In this sense the policy of the Soviet Government is absolutely clear. Since it does not consider itself bound by the formal obligations of the old Governments, the Soviet Government in its struggle for peace is guided only by the principles of democracy and the interests of the world working class. That is precisely why the Soviet Government is aiming at a general and not a separate peace. It is convinced that by the united efforts of the peoples against the imperialist Governments such a peace will be secured.

Source: Marx Memorial Library (MML)