Centenary of the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement

Two days before the Treaty of Riga was signed, the British Government finally sealed their trade deal with Lenin’s Soviet Republic.

The deal had been gestating since the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George had agreed with the Allies on 25th April 1920 “to adopt a resolution to restore trade with the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic”.

Negotiations during the eleven months that led to the President of the Board of Trade, Robert Horne, signing the agreement, were fraught with problems. When Lloyd George first met with the Soviet envoy, Leonid Krassin, Winston Churchill was livid and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff accused the Prime minister of treason because the Soviets were still holding British soldiers, sailors and airmen as prisoners-of-war.

The Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon was equally opposed to the deal and voted against it in the November Cabinet meeting, even after the prisoners were released.

The iconic treaty was a watershed moment in the history of Russia because it gave recognition to the communist government and effectively condoned the repression that led to the death of millions of lives during Stalin’s pogroms.

See chapter 15 of Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners for the story how the negotiations progressed while the British soldiers were slowly starved in their Moscow jail.

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