By 1944 it became clear to everyone that Nazi Germany had very little time to live, and the war would soon end in Europe. Although the future of Europe was unclear, it was evident that Nazism and Fascism were on their deathbed. Europe’s future was in the hands of the British, Americans, and the Soviets.
Stalin’s Three Requests
The Summit Meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin began in Yalta, in the Crimea, on February 4, 1945. Since a victory in Europe was evident, two issues were high on the conference agenda: the future of Europe, and ways by which the war might be brought to an end in Asia. According to American experts, their war with Japan could drag on into 1947 if it continued at the same rate. The Kwantung Army in Manchuria alone had more than a million men and the only way to accomplish a quick victory in this war was to involve the Soviets in some way.
After three days of deliberation, the leaders of the three superpowers signed a six-point understanding. The USSR would enter into war against Japan within two to three months after the capitulation of Germany. As indicated in Provision two of the understanding, the three signed a secret treaty on February 11, 1945, describing the conditions of the USSR’s war against Japan. The USSR would enter into this war on the side of the Allies on condition that:
- The status quo in Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian People’s Republic) shall be preserved;
- The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored [list of rights committed here];
- The Kuril islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union. It is understood, that the agreements concerning Outer Mongolia and the ports and railroads referred to above will require the concurrence of generalissimo Chiang Kaishek. The President will take measures in order to obtain this concurrence on advice from Marshal Stalin.
The heads of the three great powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.
The issue of Mongolia was not taken up until the end of the talks. But just before the closing of the meeting, Stalin, addressing Roosevelt, said “It would be appropriate for your side to take the responsibility of seeking Chiang Kaishek’s recognition of Outer Mongolia’s status quo”, and the US President said he would accept this proposal.
Status Quo is a Latin phrase meaning, “the state of things as they are”, which in international legal relations means the existing state of society, statehood, geographical location, a form of state and government, and borders. This term also exists in the following two forms: status quo ante or the previous state of things, and status quo ante Bellum, the state of things before the war. From the provision spelled out in English in the Yalta Treaty, “The status quo in Outer Mongolia shall be preserved”, it is difficult to say whether it implies the borders of Mongolia, its state structure or the social system, or perhaps all of them taken together.