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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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United States Non-Recognition Policy

 In 1940, the United States condemned the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and refused to recognize the annexation of the three Baltic states. This non-recognition policy was announced by acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles in a statement July 23, 1940 and remained the official US position until 1990/1 when the Baltic states each individually declared their independence from the Soviet Union.

  • February 17, 1940

    The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State

    Ambassador Steinhardt on rumors that the Soviet Union is planning to take control of Latvia and Estonia.

  • May 29, 1940

    The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

    The Soviet Union threatens intervention in Lithuania due to the alleged "disappearance of men from Soviet military garrison established in Lithuania."

  • May 30, 1940

    The Minister in Latvia (Wiley) to the Secretary of State

    Officials express concern about the Soviet Union's aggressive actions toward Lithuania.

  • June 07, 1940

    The Minister in Latvia (Wiley) to the Secretary of State

    Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian officials all anticipate that the Soviet Union will take measure to control the Baltic states.

  • June 15, 1940

    The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

    The Lithuanian government has accepted an ultimatum from the Soviet Union demanding that officials be brought to trial, the number of Soviet troops increased, and the Lithuanian government reorganized.

  • June 16, 1940

    The Chargé in Estonia (Leonard) to the Secretary of State

    The Soviet Union has demanded that Estonia and Latvia allow Soviet troops to enter both countries.

  • July 23, 1940

    Welles Declaration, Department of State Press Release, 'Statement by the Acting Secretary of State, the Honorable Sumner Welles'

    Later referred to as the "Welles Declaration," this statement by acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles condemned the 1940 Soviet occupation of the Baltic states and set United States policy of refusing to recognize the new Soviet governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

  • June 25, 1941

    Statement by the Latvian Minister (Bilmanis)

    Statement by the Latvian Ambassador to the United States on the Soviet occupation of Latvia.

  • February 06, 1948

    Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Armour)

    Three representatives of displaced persons of the Baltic States bring a petition for President Truman.

  • 1954

    Department of State, Memorandum, 'The Attitude of the United States and Other Governments Toward the Forced Incorporation of the Baltic Republics into the Soviet Union'

    State Department memorandum summarizing policy toward Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia following the Soviet incorporation of the Baltic States.

  • December 07, 1954

    Department of State, Memorandum, 'Problems of Compatibility of Collective Security Negotiations with the USSR and Present US Policy Towards the Baltic States'

    History of US relations with the Baltic states and the current policy of non-recognition of Soviet control.

  • December 07, 1954

    Department of State, Memorandum, 'Problems Involving the Satellites and Baltic Areas in Negotiations with the Soviet Union'

    Negotiation of a collective security or non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union would "arouse grave anxiety or cynical reserve" due to a number of problems.

  • March 24, 1958

    Letter from Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs C. Burke Elbrick, 'Draft NSC Paper Concerning Baltic States'

    Policy paper explaining the current status of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and the US policy of non-recognition of their incorporation into the Soviet Union.

  • November 05, 1965

    Department of State, Memorandum, 'Current United States Policy Toward Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia'

    Explanation of US policy of non-recognition of Soviet control of the Baltic states.

  • 1966

    Department of State, Background Memorandum, 'The Baltic Question and US-USSR Exchanges'

    Summary of past negotiations with the Soviet Union for cultural exchanges which include the Baltic States. The State Department wants to avoid the Soviets using these exchanges to erode the US policy of not recognizing Soviet control of the Baltics.

  • May 10, 1966

    Department of State, Memorandum, 'Termination of Baltic State Representation Supported from Blocked Baltic Assets Held in the United States'

    Policy recommendation to phase-out US financial support of Baltic embassies.