“We have nevertheless compelled the Provisional Government to renounce annexations.”
—From a speech by Y. Steklov, delivered at the Tauride Palace on April 4.
“Whatever our attitude towards the slogan ’peace without annexations’ may be, the principles accepted by all the Allies cannot be ignored.”
—From a speech by P. Milyukov (Rech, April 11).
Step by step the leaders of the Provisional Government are revealing the true nature of their policy in regard to the War. The notorious declaration of the Provisional Government contained, along with a verbal “renunciation” of annexations, a statement to the effect that “our” treaties with the British and the French governments remain valid. A couple of weeks later Rech, the organ of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Milyukov, prints the following:
While in Moscow, P. N, Milyukov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the following statement at a meeting of members of the people’s freedom party:
The declaration of the Provisional Government concerning the aims of the war contains not peace terms, but merely general principles which have already been repeatedly enunciated by various statesmen of our Allies. The peace terms can be worked out only with the consent of our Allies and in accordance with the London Convention. What ever our attitude towards the slogan “peace without annexations” may be, the principles accepted by all the Allies concerning the reunification of Poland and Armenia. And the gratification of the national aspirations of the Austrian Slav’s, cannot be ignored. (Rech No. 83, April 11 (24), 1917.)
This statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Milyukov, will, without doubt, make the round of the whole foreign press and intensify the military spirit in Germany. Milyukov is helping the German imperialists to work up chauvinist feeling in Germany; Milyukov is helping Wilhelm II to go through with this predatory war “to the end”.
Let us examine Mr. Milyukov’s statement. The Provisional Government’s declaration concerning the aims of the war (the same declaration which Y. Steklov, by a deplorable misunderstanding, calls renunciation of annexations) contains, says Milyukov, not peace terms, but “merely general principles which have already been repeatedly enunciated by various statesmen of our Allies”. In plain language,this means that renunciation of annexations is merely a fine phrase, “general principles”, words, words, words, These words have also been repeated any number of times by “our” Allies. The actual “peace” terms, however, are a different matter entirely.
A statesman—Bismark, if I am not mistaken—once said that to accept a thing “in principle” means, in the language of diplomacy, to reject it in effect.The same with Milyukov. “In principle” he is against annexations, in effect he is for annexations. That is why he stands for war “to the end”.
Fine phrases are not yet peace terms, Mr. Milyukov tells us.
What then, are his peace terms?
These terms are covered by the London Convention. Mr. Milyukov refers us to it.
But who concluded that Convention? Tsar Nicholas II concluded it with the British and French capitalists! That means that the treaties concluded by the tsarist clique still remain in force. That means we are fighting for the sake of these predatory treaties concluded by the tsarist clique and the “Allied” bankers.
Seizure of Polish, Armenian, and Austrian territories (this time Mr. Milyukov makes no mention of Constantinople)—this is what Mr. Milyukov’s peace programme amounts to.
What will the leaders of the majority of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies say regarding this latest statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Milyukov? All they will do is “reprove” Milyukov for this statement of his in the name of the “Contact” Commission…. What has become of the “Provisional Governments renunciation of annexations”, which Y. Steklov and N. Chkheidze claim to have obtained from it?
There is no dual power in Russia. The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies merely exercises a benevolent control over the Provisional Government. This, if we are to believe the newspaper reports, is what N. Chkheidze said at the military conference in Minsk.
This is what we have come to with this benevolent control! People who fan the flames of war are continuing to speak in the name of Russia. The workers and soldiers are being fed with platitudes about peace without annexations, while on the quiet a policy is being pursued which benefits only a small clique of millionaires who thrive on war.
Comrades, workers and soldiers! Read this statement of Milyukov and expose it at all your meetings! Make it understood that you do not wish to die for the sake of secret conventions concluded by Tsar Nicholas II, and which are still sacred to Milyukov!
V.I. Lenin, The War and the Provisional Government, April 27 (April 13 old style), 1917