Milyukov’s note to the Allies (1917)

In mid-April 1917, the Provisional Government’s foreign minister, Pavel Milyukov, sent this telegram to the Allied powers. Milyukov’s note promised the Provisional Government’s ongoing commitment to the war. This note was leaked to the press and its publication caused an outcry across Russia, leading to Milyukov’s resignation:

“On April 9th of the present year, the Provisional Government issued a declaration to its citizens containing the views of the Government of free Russia regarding the aims of the present war. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has instructed me to communicate to you the contents of this document and to make at the same time the following comments:

Our enemies have been striving of late to sow discord among the Allies, disseminating absurd reports claiming that Russia is ready to conclude a separate peace with the Central Powers. The text of the attached document will most effectively refute such falsehoods.

You will note from the same that the general principles enunciated by the Provisional Government are in entire agreement with those lofty ideas which have been constantly expressed by many eminent statesmen in the Allied States, and which were given especially vivid expression in the declaration of the president of our new ally, the great republic across the Atlantic [the United States].

The government of the old régime was, of course, incapable of grasping and sharing these ideas of the liberating character of the war, the establishment of the amicable existence of nations, of self-determination for oppressed peoples and so forth.

Emancipated Russia, however, can now speak in a language that will be comprehensible to the leading democracies of our own time. She now hastens to add her voice to those of her Allies.

Imbued with this new spirit of a free democracy, the declaration of the Provisional Government [shows] the revolution has not entailed any slack­ening on the part of Russia in the common struggle of the Allies. Quite to the contrary, the aspiration of the entire nation to carry the world war to a decisive victory has grown more powerful, thanks to our understanding of our common responsibility, shared by each and every one.

This striving has become still more active since it is concentrated upon the task of driving out the enemy who has invaded our country. It is obvious, as stated in the document, that the Provisional Government, while safeguarding the rights of our own country, will in every way observe the obligations assumed toward our Allies.

Continuing to cherish the firm conviction of the victorious issue of the present war, in full accord with our Allies, the Provisional Government feels also absolutely certain that the problems which have been raised by this war will be solved in a spirit that will afford a firm basis for lasting peace, and that the leading democracies, inspired by identical desires, will find the means to obtain guarantees and sanctions to prevent sanguinary conflicts in the future.”