Between Churchill and Stalin: the Cripps Mission and its aftermath
Miner, Steven Merritt (b. 1956)
Master of Arts
Sir Stafford Cripps was sent to Moscow in 194 to secure an Anglo-Soviet trade agreement, Cripps believed he, as a socialist, could induce the Soviets to cooperate with Britain. His persistent efforts remained fruitless. Frustrated, he argued that Britain should recognize Soviet territorial gains of 1939-4» thereby winning Stalin's trust. Stalin ignored British approaches, preferring partnership with Hitler until the latter attacked Russia. Even then, Anglo-Soviet relations remained poor. Gradually, Anthony Eden was persuaded by Cripps, and by Soviet chilliness, to recognize Soviet sovereignty over the Baltic States, and he in turn convinced a divided British Cabinet. But Stalin took no notice of unilateral British sacrifices; close friendship with the Soviet Union, as envisioned by the British, was impossible, and misguided efforts to win Stalin's trust were foredoomed. The episode needlessly strained Anglo-American relations and weakened the Western position in Eastern Europe.