February 12, 2024

1943. Ambassador William H. Standley Discusses Aid to USSR

"Prodding Russia"
"Admiral William H. Standley presents his credentials as Ambassador to the USSR, to Mikhail Kalinin, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR" (source)
From Newsweek, March 15, 1943, pp. 33-34 (based on an earlier CBS report from Bill Downs):

Prodding Russia

Admiral William H. Standley, United States Ambassador to Russia, invited correspondents to the American Embassy in Moscow on Monday of this week. His talk: a blunt accusation that American aid to Russia was being concealed from the Russian people.

The white-haired admiral, reported Bill Downs of the Columbia Broadcasting System and Newsweek, was worked up over his subject, and his expressive eyes were "shooting sparks."

The ambassador declared: "I have been looking for evidence of some recognition of the aid that the Soviet Union is getting from America . . . The American people in their sympathy are digging into their own pockets, thinking that this help is going to the Russian people. Maybe it is. But the Russian people don't know it."

As for the motive of the Russian authorities, the 70-year-old admiral replied: "They seem to be trying to create the impression at home as well as abroad that they are fighting the war alone."

Discussing the extension of the Lend-Lease bill (debated in Congress this week), Standley said: "The American Congress is rather sensitive. It is generous and big-hearted as long as it feels that it is helping someone. But give it the idea it is not helping and it might be a different story."

Standley's statement caught Congressional leaders in Washington by surprise. The frank talk was expected to provide Lend-Lease opponents some material on the topic of gratitude but not to affect expected passage of the bill. Other observers believed that it was an attempt to break down Russia's aloofness to United Nation collaboration in the war and in the postwar peace.