28 JUNE 1940, Page 2

Russia in the Background

In the changed situation in the European Continent Russia remains an inscrutable force in the background. It is certain that she does not regard with equanimity the rise of Germany to a position of dominance, which at any moment may be mani- fested in the East as it has been in the West. The Soviet Government, by virtually annexing Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, has secured its position in the eastern Baltic, and it is possible that it may have an understanding with Germany which will enable it to seize Bessarabia. If so, it may be assumed that Germany proposes to control the rest of Rumania. With Jugoslavia normal diplomatic relations, which have been in abeyance since 1918, have been re-established—an indication of a belated effort to revive old ideas of Pan-Slav community of interests. Russian policy has to be shaped in the light of what may happen if Germany should force her way to the Black Sea and the Aegean. It is probable that she will endeavour by all means to avoid military involvement against Germany, yet it might well be to her interest not to cause excessive anxiety to Turkey. It should be remembered that if her attitude is baffling to the friends of Great Britain it is equally baffling to Germany. The latter keeps considerable forces on the Polish frontier. Stalin appears to realise that the influence of Russia arises not so much from what she does as from what she may do.