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Extra resources for British Policy Towards the Soviet Union during the Second World War
12 In his report of the meeting, Cripps suggested that American pressure could be applied to convince the Soviets to enter the war. Ambassador Kennedy quickly put an end to any such hopes by saying that the only thing his country could offer the Soviets were machine tools, a remark which infuriated Halifax because they were badly needed in Britain to increase industrial production. Cripps further argued that the Soviets were unlikely to 'acquiese in a German hegemony of Europe', but hastily added that they were unlikely to do anything very much about it.
But some diplomats were beginning to have doubts about this analysis. Orme Sargent carefully deleted the following passage from a letter he wrote to Dalton. There is reason to believe that he [Stalin] still favours co-operation with Germany, and intends that any trade agreement with us shall help Germany by weakening our blockade rather than be the first step towards an Anglo-Soviet political rapprochement. 17 Sargent believed that Stalin was playing games with Cripps, using him as a pawn against the Germans, and remarked sourly that he would have to stick to it.
Modest progress was made in these talks. On 16 October Cripps had a further meeting with Mikoyan who announced that the Soviet Union was prepared to export lubricating oil and chrome. 36 At the end of the month the Soviets offered a more comprehensive barter arrangement. The successful conclusion of these barter agreements opened up the difficult question of trade routes. It was felt that the safest route would be through Iran, but there were two major problems: the railway was in very poor condition and would need extensive repairs before large quantities of goods could be sent along it; even more difficult was the fear that using this route would open up the question of a partition of Iran between Britain and the Soviet Union.