3 OCTOBER 1947, Page 16

RUSSIAN EXPANSION

Sut,‚ÄĒI think Mr. McNeil's recent indictment of the Soviet methods which paralyse any international co-operation most admirable. The same praise is due to his description of the criteria which should rule the rela- tions between the nations of the world. There is a passage in his speech, however, which seems to contradict or, at least, weaken the principles That Mr. McNeil has so ably expressed‚ÄĒnamely, the sentence in which he states that " neither he nor any member of the British Government would deny the legitimate aspirations of Russia, nor seek to check the extensions she had legitimately sought, and which every great nation by the very nature of its growth must have."

Can we consider any of the extensions made by Russia since 1939 as " legitimate "? They were all secured at the expense of her weaker neigh- bours, some of which were incorporated outright into the Soviet Union and others reduced to a satellite status and deprived of their right to develop freely their national life and institutions. I think‚ÄĒand surely this is in accordance with British tradition‚ÄĒthat no great nation has a legitimate right to infringe upon the freedom or independence of the smaller nations, whose rights in this respect are certainly more legitimate than any aspiration for extensions. I am sure that these are also Mr. McNeil's convictions. But if so one should be very careful not to evoke the shadows of the disastrous period of appeasement now, when we feel more strongly every day that only the application of basic moral principles with international relations can save mankind from a final catastrophe.‚ÄĒ