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Soviet-Mongolian Friendship Talks

In mid-September 1921, a meeting of the People’s Government of Mongolia considered the issues of establishing friendly relations with the Soviet Union and substituting it through legal treaties and documents. It also decided to send an official delegation of the Mongolian People’s Government to Moscow headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, and member of the MPP Central Committee, Soliin Danazn.

The Mongol Delegates 

     After careful discussion, the delegation was finally chosen. Commander-in-Chief of the Mongolian army, War Minister Damdainiin Sukhbaatar and Deputy Foreign Minister Balingiin TSerendorj, were appointed, and after insulation with the Bogd Khan, his personal envoy Erdenejonon Van Shirnendamdin was also included in the delegation as an unofficial member. A Foreign Ministry official Davaa was selected as the delegation secretary while Erdene Bathaan, a Government Department Chief, went as interpreter.

Shumyatskii’s Logic 

     The arrival of the Mongolian delegation in Moscow took the Soviets by surprise. The Soviet government was about to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing and therefore it would have been extremely inconsiderate to make any decisions regarding Mongolia. admittedly, the Comintern had carried out a revolution in Mongolia, but this move somewhat preceded the Soviet government’s policy in the Far East.

     A serious debate followed; three meetings of the Executive Council of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs and two meetings of the Special Commission on Mongolia were held in the first half of October 1921. The commissar of Foreign Affairs Chicherin was in favor of meeting with the Mongols since he acknowledged Shumyatskii as the foremost expert in Mongolian affairs. 

     Finally, the Soviets decided to hold negotiations with the Mongols. The Soviet Russian government delegation was headed by the Chief of the Eastern Department of the Foreign Affairs Commissariat S.Dukhovskii, and included B.Gets from the Economic and Legal Section of the Department L.Borisov, an official in the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, was appointed Secretary of the Soviet delegation and a Buriad, Ochirov, was an interpreter.

Mongolia’s Eight request

     On the first day of the talks, B.Tserendorj, who was the oldest person among the delegates of the two countries, was elected the chairman of the session. At this session, the head of the Mongolian delegation, Danzan, keeping to the instructions of the People’s Government, outlined the key principles of the government’s foreign policy, and Mongolia’s position with regard to its relations with Soviet Russia. He presented an eight-point statement signed by himself, D.Sukhbaatar, B.Tserendorj, and Shirnendamdin, and bearing the seal of the pole plenipotentiary representative.

     Article One of the statement was similar to the note sent by Bodoo and contained a request to broker a deal with China. Article Two requested the concluding of a treaty designed to strengthen the friendship between Mongolia and the Soviet Union and to promote mutually beneficial trade. This followed the new developments in both countries, as well as that, in 1919, Soviet Russia annulled the treaties imposed on Mongolia by the Tsarist Russian government. Article Three, citing “undeniable historical facts”, proved that since Tannu Tuva, thee Urianhai region had always been a part of Mongolia, and therefore, since the same ethnic stock, their unification would be the only route to peace for the Urianhai people. 

     In Article Four, a request was made asking for free passage into Mongolia for the Russian Buriads. This request was couched in subtle and diplomatic language. The delegation maintained that, since the backbone of Mongolia’s economy was livestock breeding, there was neither farming nor industry, and since almost no one was educated in Western science, it was impossible to develop and increase the national economy. Therefore, the Article suggested, since the Buriads were ethnically related to the Mongols, with a similar religion and, moreover, since the Buriads were better-educated and had a better knowledge of farming and industrial production, their unification with Mongolia must not be blocked. The Mongolian delegation emphasized that they had no desire to separate the Buriads in Mongolia, but since some Soviet Buriads had come to Mongolia and settled there, others might also wish to migrate. The delegation requested that Soviet Russia not under or prevent those who wished to migrate to Mongolia from doing so.

     In Article Five, the Mongols demanded that ownership of the buildings and equipment of the telephone committee built in Hovd and Uliastai during the Tsarist era be transferred to the Mongolian government free of charge. Article Six of the statement mentioned that in the past Russia and China, without any permission from the Mongolian government, had set up a postal service and that, since Mongolia was now an independent country, it had a right to handle its mail. The article stated that Mongolia would therefore establish its own postal service. In Article Seven, the Mongolian delegation requested that the Soviets finish supplying the arms and weapons that they had promised in 1920. Finally, in Article Eight, they requested that the balance of aid money also promised by the Soviet Union in 1920 be given, in order to help improve Mongolia’s economy. 

Empty Words

The head of the Soviet delegation, S.Dukhovskii, received the Mongols’ suggestions. He expressed his readiness to broker friendship between Mongolia and China and stated that the process has already begun. He indicated that by fully rejecting the aggressive policies of the Tsarist Russian government, workers and peasants of the Soviet government had displayed a genuine intention to assist in the liberation struggle of the oppressed people of the East. He emphasized that the Mongolian proposal regarding the Urianhai problem and the issue of freedom of movement for Russian Buriad Mongols conformed with the efforts for peace of the working masses of the Soviet Union.

     The Soviets refused to address the issue of demarcating the borders. Dukhovskii said:

“Our side does not want to take up the border issue now. We suggest that the current talks leave the border issue as it is. If we establish a border now between the Soviet Union and Mongolia, we will have to establish it again with China”. 

The reason was clear: A month earlier, the Soviets had set up a puppet government in Urianhai, calling it the republic of Tannu Tuva. Furthermore, Russian settlers in Urianhai had set up the “Russian Self-rule Revolutionary Committee of the Frontier Worker’s Colony”, and had agreed to submit to the constitution of Soviet Russia. In reality, these Russian settleres controlled the new puppet government there.

The Soviet’s Position

     The Soviets once again proposed a new Tripartite Treaty on a “future autonomous Mongolia, which would be formed within the Republic of China”, and offered to broker between Mongolia and China. The Mongols flatly refused the offer. Finally, both sides made concessions and at Danzan’s insistence, the phrase “Free Mongolia” in the provision, “that talks be held between the Republic of China and free Mongolia through Russian mediation”, was interpreted by the Soviets as proclaiming Soviet support for the Mongolian independence.

     Until February 1945, the Soviet Union did not sign a single treaty with Mongolia because it had not yet recognized Mongolia’s independence. Article One of this thirteen point agreement stated, “The Soviet Russian government recognizes the Mongolian People’s Government, the sole legitimate government”. The Soviets were recognizing a government under its patronage, rather than the government of Outer Mongolia.

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