Moscow Conference (1945)

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Moscow Conference
Host country Soviet Union
Date16 December – 26 December 1945
CitiesMoscow, Soviet Union
ParticipantsSoviet Union Vyacheslav Molotov
United Kingdom Ernest Bevin
United States James F. Byrnes
FollowsPotsdam Conference

The Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, also known as the Interim Meeting of Foreign Ministers, was the meeting of the foreign ministers of the United States, represented by James F. Byrnes, the United Kingdom, represented by Ernest Bevin, and the Soviet Union, represented by Vyacheslav Molotov. The meeting was held in Moscow from 16 to 26 December 1945 to discuss the problems of occupation, establishing peace, and other Far Eastern issues. The conference followed Allied World War II conferences including those at Cairo, Yalta and Potsdam. The communiqué, issued after the conference on December 27, 1945, contained a joint declaration that covered a number of issues resulting from the end of World War II.


The result of the conference was the Soviet-Anglo-American Communiqué, which had the following articles:[1][2]

  1. Preparation of peace treaties with Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland.
  2. Far Eastern Commission and Allied Council for Japan.
  3. Korea
  4. China
  5. Romania
  6. Bulgaria
  7. The establishment by the United Nations of a commission for the control of atomic energy


The Moscow Conference could be seen as a victory for the Soviet Union. The conference was proposed by Byrnes, without an invitation offered to France or China and without first consulting with the United Kingdom. This was aligned with the goal the Soviet Union had previously wanted - that France and China would be excluded from peace settlements regarding the minor axis powers in Europe - and created a rift between the United Kingdom and United States. The conference also recognised the pro-Soviet governments in Romania and Bulgaria, granted the Soviet Union a role in post-war Japan, established international control of atomic energy, and achieved an agreement on a trusteeship in Korea - all were viewed as successes by the Soviet Union.[3] Veteran American diplomat George F. Kennan, who was then serving in the US embassy in Moscow, observed the proceedings first hand, and wrote in his diary on US Secretary of State Byrnes: "The realities behind this agreement, since they concern only such people as Koreans, Rumanians, and Iranians, about whom he knows nothing, do not concern him. He wants an agreement for its political effect at home. The Russians know this. They will see that for this superficial success he pays a heavy price in the things that are real."[4]: 287–288 

Writing in 1947, the London Economist argued that the Moscow Conference "ended the phase of post-war in which the victors clung to the belief that they could work out agreed policies... Willy-nilly, world politics moves back towards the balance of power, and issues now tend to be determined by the relative strength or influence of the two groups."[5]


The 1947 Paris Peace Treaties were the final peace settlement for Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland.


The Moscow Conference established the Far Eastern Commission, based in Washington, D.C., which would oversee the Allied Council for Japan, replacing the Far Eastern Advisory Commission. The arrangement, which gave the United States a dominant position in Japan, was a mirror image to the situation in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, where the Soviet Union was dominant. Both the far Eastern Commission and the Allied Council for Japan were dissolved following the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951.[6]


A newspaper article with pictures of Stalin and Byrnes. Text is in Korean.
The December 27 1945 issue of the Korean newspaper Dong-a Ilbo.
Koreans with placards protesting against the trusteeship plan.
Anti-trusteeship rally, December 1945.

On December 25 1945, prior to the announcement of the final decision of the conference, the United Press reported that "Secretary of State Byrnes went to Russia reportedly with instructions to urge immediate independence as opposed to the Russian thesis of trusteeship."[7] Domestic media adopted the story on December 27. The communiqué was officially announced in Korea on December 28.

The section on Korea consisted of four paragraphs. The third paragraph called for the establishment of a Joint Commission, under the control of a consortium of the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and China, including the decision that a four-power trusteeship of up to five years would be needed before Korea attained independence.[8][9]: 34  Both the political left and political right of Korea opposed this trusteeship plan, with it being suggested that such a plan made Korea a vassal of the four powers.[10]: 26 

Protests against the trusteeship plan, which had also occurred on December 27, intensified on December 28. On the right, these protests were led by Kim Gu. On December 29, at Gyeonggyojang, a 76 member committee to oppose the trusteeship plan was formed, which included left wing leaders such as Pak Hon-yong of the Communist Party of Korea. Protests, leafletting, and discourse in the media continued the next few days. However, on January 3 1946, the Communist Party reversed its position and issued a statement supporting the conference communiqué. This shift was not well received by the public. The shift coincides with the arrival of Soviet general Andrei Alekseevich Romanenko to Pyongyang on December 30, lending credence to the theory that the shift was due to a Soviet directive.[11] The shift of the left away from the anti-trusteeship movement led to intensified confrontation between the left and right.[12]

By 23 January, unrest against the trusteeship plan had quietened somewhat, and right wing political groups stopped advocating for violence and for non-cooperation against military government.[13] The Joint Commission convened throughout 1946 and 1947, but it was increasingly obstructed, mostly by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union increased its military build-up in what would become North Korea and prevented the 1948 United Nations supervised election from occurring in the north. The failure of the Moscow Conference to peacefully settle the issue of Korea ultimately led to the Korea War in 1950.[14][9]: 34 

The anti-trusteeship victory protests are celebrated in South Korea annually on December 28.[12]

Atomic energy[edit]

The United Nations Atomic Energy Commission was founded on 24 January 1946 by the very first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.

Outstanding issues[edit]

The conference did not address outstanding issues regarding Iran, Spain, Greece, Libya, or the Dardanelles.[15][16] The Soviet Union was unwilling to withdraw from Iran, citing the Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship and claiming their presence was legal to protect Baku.[17] As a counter to Anglo-American demands for their withdrawal from Iran, the Soviet Union pressed for British withdrawal from Greece. Reiterating their position previously voiced at the Potsdam and London conferences, the Soviet Union once again made demands for a military base in the Dardanelles.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SOVIET-ANGLO-AMERICAN COMMUNIQUÉ". Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  2. ^ "Avalon Project - A Decade of American Foreign Policy 1941-1949 - Interim Meeting of Foreign Ministers, Moscow". Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Lee, Jongsoo (2006), Lee, Jongsoo (ed.), "U.S. and Soviet Policies, December 1945–August 1948", The Partition of Korea after World War II: A Global History, New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, pp. 69–126, doi:10.1057/9781403983015_3, ISBN 978-1-4039-8301-5, retrieved April 10, 2021
  4. ^ Kennan, George F. (1967). Memoirs, 1925-1950. Boston: Little, Brown.
  5. ^ Mason, Edward S. (1947). "Reflections on the Moscow Conference". International Organization. 1 (3): 475–487. doi:10.1017/S0020818300005166. ISSN 0020-8183. JSTOR 2704246.
  6. ^ "RECORDS OF THE FAR EASTERN COMMISSION, 1945-1952" (PDF). GALE. Retrieved April 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Independence of Korea is being urged". UPI. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  8. ^ "우리역사넷". Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Leckie, Robert (1962). Conflict: The History of the Korean War 1950-1953. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. LCCN 62-10975.
  10. ^ Scalapino, Robert A; College, Naval War (2006). Korea: The East Asian Pivot. Government Printing Office. ISBN 978-1-884733-36-9.
  11. ^ "[광복 5년사 쟁점 재조명]<1부>(17)삼상회의 보도". DongA. December 12, 2004. Retrieved April 10, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ a b "[모스크바 3상회의 60주년]좌익 '찬탁돌변' 남북분단 불러". DongA. December 29, 2005. Retrieved April 10, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, The Far East, Volume VIII - Office of the Historian". Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  14. ^ "우리역사넷". Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "DECISION IN MOSCOW ACCLAIMED". Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954). December 29, 1945. p. 1. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  16. ^ "FAR REACHING DECISIONS MADE AT MOSCOW CONFERENCE". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). December 29, 1945. p. 1. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  17. ^ PIERPOINT, DAVID (December 1, 1999). "British Policy in Iran and Relations with the Soviet Union, 1945-46" (PDF). CORE. Retrieved April 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Roberts, Geoffrey (2011). "Moscow's Cold War on the Periphery: Soviet Policy in Greece, Iran, and Turkey, 1943–8". Journal of Contemporary History. 46 (1): 58–81. doi:10.1177/0022009410383292. hdl:20.500.12323/1406. ISSN 0022-0094. JSTOR 25764609. S2CID 161542583.

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