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trial for disinformation and panicking. In had not heard anything from them.
Zhou talions and regiments to the vicinity of their correspondence with Stalin, they complained that the DPRK leaders had per- Inch'on and Seoul-were flawed and fraught doubted the need to redeploy KPA troops sistently ignored Mao Zedong's advice and with the possible annihilation of these units from the Naktong River front to the defense predictions and, moreover, deprived the without providing any solution to the probof Seoul, instead favoring a strategy of ex- Chinese Ambassador in Pyongyang, Ni lem as a whole. He stressed that only a erting additional pressure on the southeast- Zhiliang, of operational information about pullout of main forces from the southeastern ern front in order to throw the U.S. and ROK the military situation, thereby preventing front and creation of formidable lines of troops defending the Pusan perimeter off the him from informing his government prop- defense east and north of Seoul could halt cliffs into the Sea of Japan in a final greaterly in a timely fashion. As a result, Mao had the unfolding UN offensive around Seoul. offensive. Consequently, they dragged their only sketchy reports about the execution and Upon receiving Stalin's message from feet in executing Stalin's order to withdraw consequences of the Inch'on landing. Roshchin on September 21, Zhou expressed four KPA divisions from the Southeast to In response to Roshchin's question about satisfaction that the Soviet assessment of the the vicinity of Seoul.
the appropriate course of action for the KPA military situation in Korea after Inch'on As the military situation around Seoul at this juncture, Zhou recommended with matched the Chinese one. He mentioned to deteriorated due to the rapid advance of the some reservations Zhou recommended that, Roshchin that two days earlier, he had sent a U.S. X Corps toward the ROK capital from if the KPA had 100,000-men reserves in the cable to Chinese Ambassador Ni Zhiliang in the west, and their recapture of Kimp'o on vicinity of Seoul and Pyongyang, they could Pyongyang with recommendations similar September 18, Stalin urgently dispatched to and must eliminate the enemy's landing to those which he had given Roshchin and Korea a special mission headed by Army force at Inch'on. If, however, the KPA Soviet military advisers earlier that day. General Matvey Vasilievich Zakharov,
lacked such reserves, then they had to with- According to Zhou, the same day, Ni had a (known by the pseudonym Matveyev), the draw their main forces from the Naktong long talk with Kim Il Sung, with Pak Il'u and Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Soviet River front northward, leaving rear-guards Pak Hon-Yong present, and, afterwards, Army, carried Stalin's order that Shtykov behind to defend the frontline. On behalf of cabled to Beijing Kim's words that “the and Vasiliev tell Kim Il Sung to halt the the PRC government, Zhou requested that Korean people were ready to fight a prooffensive along the Pusan perimeter, to as- the Soviet government pass to the Chinese tracted war.
„15 sume the defensive and pull out all his divi- leadership more accurate and up-to-date in- In the meantime, on September 22, the sions from the Naktong River front and formation on the military situation in Korea, 5th and 7th regiments of the 1st U.S. Maredeploy them to defend Seoul in the north- if it possessed it itself.
rines Division approached Seoul from the east and east. Also, he pressed Vasilevsky to On September 20, Stalin sent a ciphered northwest and northeast, while the 32nd and step up his efforts to provide the KPA with telegram to Roshchin in Beijing for delivery 17th regiments of the ROK 7th Division air cover and set up an air defense system to Zhou Enlai, responding to the latter's advanced to Seoul from southeast, preparing around Pyongyang (see Document #2). Fi- request for more information on the Korean for the final stage of Operation Chromite: nally, Stalin directed his representative in
situation.14 First of all, he stressed that poor the recapture of the capital. There was a Beijing to solicit the Chinese leadership’s communications between the DPRK and general feeling that Seoul was about to fall. opinion on the Korean situation and what to PRC and lack of information in Beijing on On September 23, the U.S.-UN-ROK forces do about it.
the military situation in Korea was "abnor- launched a frontal assault on Seoul; at the On the night of September 18, Stalin mal." In Stalin's opinion, Kim Il Sung failed same time the Eighth Army's general offenreceived a ciphered telegram from his Am- to provide Mao Zedong with military intel- sive in the South, unleashed on September bassador to the PRC, N.V. Roshchin.
ligence because of difficulties in his own 16, began to bear fruit, and the KPA fell Roshchin informed Stalin of his meeting the communications with his Frontline Com- apart at the Naktong River front. same day with Zhou Enlai, with the Soviet mand rather than his reluctance to share this Upon arrival in Korea, General Military Advisers Gen. Kotov and Konnov kind of information. Stalin complained that Zakharov (Matveyev) sent his first ciphered present. Zhou said that the Chinese leader- he himself received odd and belated reports telegram to Stalin on September 26 [Docuship had no other information about the U.S. about the frontline situation from his Am- ment #4). He reported that the situation of amphibious landing at Inch'on besides that bassador in Pyongyang (Shtykov). He asked the People's Army troops on the western reported in the Western newspapers and by Zhou to bear in mind that the KPA was a very (Seoul) and southeastern (Pusan) fronts was the Pyongyang Radio. Zhou noted that, in young and ill-experienced army with an grave; that the KPA's First and Second general, the Chinese had very poor contacts underdeveloped command and control sys- Armies faced the certain prospect of being with the North Korean government regard- tem and weak cadres unable to analyze the encircled and completely destroyed by the ing military matters. The Chinese were frontline situation quickly and efficiently. enemy troops; and that the U.S. Air Force aware of the North Korean demand for cad- He blamed the U.S. intervention for the dominated the air space without hinderance, res but were absolutely in the dark about the KPA's debacle at Inch'on, emphasizing that wreaking havoc both within the KPA and in KPA's operational plans. They had at- had the KPA fought only against Syngman the rear areas. He noted that the KPA troops tempted to dispatch a team of senior Chinese Rhee's troops, “it would have cleaned up had suffered heavy losses, mainly from the military officers from the Northeast Frontier Korea from the reactionary forces long time enemy's air force, having lost almost all its Forces Command to Korea to observe the ago.” Stalin argued that the tactics used by tanks and much of its artillery; and that they military situation on the battleground, but the KPA at that time-dispatching odd bat- lacked munitions and fuel, the delivery of
which was virtually halted. He stressed that reported that the North Koreans had only just charges, however, no personnel changes the KPA's top-down command and control started to form six infantry divisions in the among the Soviet political and military adsystem was set up poorly, that wire and northern part of Korea, and that Kim Il Sung visers were made in Korea at that time. radio communications worked only inter- had issued a directive to take immediate Meanwhile, in Korea, on September 28 mittently because of the breakdowns in- steps to withdraw manpower from South Kim Il Sung convened an emergency meetflicted by the enemy's air raids and due to Korea in order to use it in the formation of ing of the Workers' Party of Korea Central the lack of qualified radio operators and new divisions in North Korea and deny this Committee Political Council (WPK CC radio station fuel, and that courier mail was opportunity to the South.
Everyone present agreed that the almost nonexistent.
Stalin was furious. On September 27, he military situation was critical and warranted On September 25-26, Seoul became convened an emergency session of the Polit- extreme measures. First, in order to restore "an inferno,"16 with the U.S. Marines ad- buro of the Central Committee of the All- the KPA Command Structure and improve vancing into Seoul from the South, North, Union Communist Party (bolshevik) (Docu- its efficiency and reliability, the Political and West, and methodically destroying over ment #3). This was the first in a series of CC
ment #3]. This was the first in a series of CC Council approved Kim's proposal to com20,000 North Korean troops making a last- VKR(b) Politburo meetings which consid- bine the positions of the Supreme Comditch stand. According to Zakharov's ci- ered Soviet national interests in Korea and mander-in-Chief (SCINC) and Minister of phered telegram (Document #4), on Sep- eventually decided to minimize Soviet expo
eventually decided to minimize Soviet expo- National Defense in his hands and to set up tember 25, at 19:00 hours, local time, Kim Il sure on the peninsula. In its decision P#78/ a General Staff for the SCINC, i.e., the Sung was finally persuaded to abandon his 73, the Politburo blamed the KPA's predica- measures recommended to Kim by Zakharov dream of pushing the UN troops into the sea ment in the Seoul area and in the southeast on and Shtykov at their meeting on September in the south. He succumbed to his Soviet series of grave mistakes made by the KPA 26. This was tantamount to establishing an advisers’ urging and ordered that the Seoul Frontline Command, the Commands of the entirely new command and control system Group and the Second Army Group operat- Army Groups and army groupings in the over the KPA centered on Kim Il Sung. This ing in the northern part of the southeastern questions related to command and control decision was an obvious reflection of the front assume the defensive and hold up the over troops, and combat tactics. In particu- fact that by September 28, Kim had already enemy by any means. The troops of the lar, Stalin and his associates in Moscow held lost contact with his Defense Minister, Ch’oe Second Army Group operating in the cen- responsible the Soviet military advisers for Yong-gon, who was in charge of the defense tral and southern parts of the southeastern these blunders. In their judgment, the Soviet of Seoul. 19 Moreover, Kim and other top front were ordered to begin a general retreat military advisers had failed to implement political leaders in Pyongyang had lost all northwestward. But the North Korean troops scrupulously and in a timely fashion Stalin's communication with their Front Line Comin the South no longer obeyed their com- order to withdraw four divisions from the mand and the Auxiliary Command Posts, manders; the KPA was rapidly disintegrat- central front to the Seoul area, and had dis- which had been cut off from each other by ing. In Zakharov's judgment, at that time played, moreover, strategic illiteracy and Walker's rapidly advancing Eighth Army.
20 the North's top political and military leaders incompetence in intelligence matters. “They
incompetence in intelligence matters. “They That day, the U.S.-led UN forces enveloped already had no idea about the predicament failed to grasp the strategic importance of the both the First and Second Army Groups of of the KPA troops, in particular on the enemy's assault landing in Inch'on, denied the KPA, broke up the KPA's command southeastern front.
the gravity of its implications... This blind- structure, and completely destroyed its comOn September 26, the ROK 7th Divi- ness and lack of strategic experience led to munications system. The KPA units atsion moving westward from Namsan dis- the fact that they doubted the necessity of tempting to retreat to the north from the trict, after having crossed the Han River, redeploying troops from the South toward Naktong River were pursued and destroyed. joined hands with the U.S. 5th and 7th Seoul. At the same time, they procrastinated In Kim Il Sung's own words, “because of Marines. Although some North Korean over the redeployment and slowed it down poor discipline and failure to fulfill orders,” resistance, including suicide squads attack- considerably, thereby losing a week to the the KPA failed to pull out most of their ing American tanks, continued fiercely un- enemy's enjoyment." The Politburo stated troops stuck in the south.21 til the afternoon of September 27, by and that "the assistance provided by our military The WPK CC PC's second decision large the battle for Seoul was over as the advisers to the Korean Command in such was to take urgent measures aimed to organight fell. According to Zakharov's ci- paramount questions as communications, nize defenses along the 38th parallel, apphered telegram (Document #4), later that command and control over troops, organiza- proving Kim's plan to form immediately night, Kim Il Sung received him; DPRK tion of intelligence and combat is exception- fifteen new divisions. At that time, six new Foreign Minister Pak Hon-Yong and ally weak.”17 In conclusion, the Politburo infantry divisions were already being creShtykov also attended. As a result of the decided that after the fall of Seoul the KPA's ated in South Pyongan and South Hwanghae, conversation, Kim Il Sung decided to com- main goal should be to withdraw all its troops and South and North Hamgyong Provinces. bine the duties of the Supreme Commander- to North Korea and defend its own homeland At the same time, Kim hoped to reconstitute in-Chief and Defense Minister in his own by all means. It attached a list of military nine more infantry divisions from the remhands, to set up a Staff Office for the Su- measures which Chief Soviet Military Ad- nants of the KPA returning from the southpreme Commander-in-Chief for command viser Vasiliev was ordered to implement in and control over troops, and to pay serious order to prevent the enemy from crossing the Finally, in the course of a fierce debate, attention to the work of the rear. Zakharov 38th parallel. Despite the gravity of the the Political Council concurred that after the
eastern front. 22
fall of Seoul nothing would stop the UN pleading for help [Document #6]. Actually, could not be more explicit than that. Recogforces from crossing the 38th parallel; that if the letter was dated September 29. The next nizing that they could not survive on their they did cross the parallel, the remaining day, Pak Hon-Yong personally delivered it own, they were crying out for help to Stalin, KPA units would not be able to render any to Shtykov with an emotional plea that “at their “fatherly leader,” for, preferably, the serious resistance, and, consequently, the the moment of the enemy's troops crossing Soviet cavalry to rescue the day, or, if not, to war would be over in a very short period of of the 38th parallel, we will desperately need broker Mao's consent to enter the war. time, with the North Korean state being ground troops from the Soviet Union.” The In the meantime, on September 29, eliminated by the aggressive American im- letter arrived at the Eighth Department of the General MacArthur restored the Governperialists. Unanimously, the North Korean General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces on ment of the Republic of Korea headed by leadership agreed to ask both allies, the September 30, at 23:30 p.m., by wire as Syngman Rhee in an emotional ceremony in Soviet Union and the People's Republic of “very urgent,” was deciphered on October 1, the capital in Seoul. The last hope that the China, for direct military assistance. The at 0:35 a.m., typed up at 1:45 a.m., and war could be contained at the status quo ante Political Council thus discussed and ap- forwarded to Stalin to his dacha in the South belli was dashed when later that day the U.S. proved two official letters [Document #6] at 2:50 a.m. The timing is important in this Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) approved addressed to Stalin and Mao Zedong, beg- case because only after having received Kim MacArthur's plan for the conquest of North ging them to intervene directly and without Il Sung's plea for help did Stalin dispatch a Korea, envisioning the Eighth Army addelay to save the North Korean regime. cable to Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai on vancing to Pyongyang and the Tenth Corps It is noteworthy that the next day, before October 1, at 3:00 a.m., requesting China's
October 1, at 3:00 a.m., requesting China's being withdrawn from the Inch'on-Seoul dispatching the letter to Stalin, Kim solicited direct intervention in the Korean conflict. area for another amphibious landing at Shtykov's advice regarding its content and In their letter, Kim and Pak informed Wonsan. The same day, U.S. Secretary of advisability. On the evening of September Stalin about the severe consequences for the Defense Gen. George C. Marshall sent an 29, following the mandate of the WPK CC KPA of the Inch'on landing. Although still encouraging message to MacArthur: “We Politburo, Kim for the first time officially loathe to admit that Seoul had fallen, they want you to feel unhampered strategically raised to his Soviet military advisers the indicated that the enemy “had the real possi- and tactically to proceed north of the 38th question of the UN forces' crossing the 38th bility of taking over Seoul.” They were parallel. At his meeting with Shtykov and certain that “with the complete occupation On September 30, the Soviet Politburo Zakharov (Document #5], with Pak Hon- of Seoul, the enemy would launch a further conferred again on the Korean situation, in Yong present, he asked Shtykov whether the offensive into North Korea.” Kim and Pak particular Zakharov's latest report on the latter thought the enemy would dare to cross admitted that “if the enemy were to take dire military situation (Document #4). The the 38th parallel. Once Shtykov replied that advantage of the situation and step up its discussion focused on the need to avoid a he was not sure, Kim concurred by saying offensive in North Korea, then we would be direct military confrontation between the that "it was not clear to me either.” Kim unable to stop the enemy by our own forces... USSR and the United States and the options added, however, that “if the enemy did cross and the U.S. aggression would succeed in still available to salvage the situation in the parallel, the People's Army would not be the end.” Nonetheless, they emphasized that Korea, including soliciting Chinese help and able to form new troops and, therefore, would they were still determined to fight on, to opening a last-ditch diplomatic maneuvernot be able to render any serious resistance mobilize new troops and to prepare “for a ing at the United Nations. The Politburo to the enemy forces." Kim told Shtykov he protracted war." They argued that it was in directed that the Foreign Ministry draft a wanted his advice as to how they should the USSR's national interest to prevent the new ceasefire resolution to be submitted to approach Stalin concerning their letter re- U.S. advance into North Korea and the latter's the UN. Also, they decided to approve Kim questing direct Soviet military assistance. transformation into a colony and military Il Sung's proposals to reorganize the KPA But Shtykov dodged the question, obviously springboard of U.S. imperialism.”
high military command, form six new divito ensure that the final decision to invite Finally, they begged Stalin for a “spe- sions, and withdraw remaining North KoSoviet troops to the defense of North Ko- cial kind of assistance,” admitting that “at rean troops from the South (Document #8]. rea—and subsequent responsibility, should the moment when the enemy troops begin to At the same time, the Politburo decided that things go wrong-would rest with Kim Il cross the 38th parallel, we would desper- armaments, munition, and other materials Sung and Pak Hon-Yong themselves.23 Kimately need direct military assistance from the for the new divisions would be supplied to and Pak were visibly dissatisfied and upset Soviet Union.” Afraid of their plea being
Soviet Union.” Afraid of their plea being the KPA between October 5 and 20.26 Fibut at the same time so "confused, lost, rejected outright and fearful that Stalin held
rejected outright and fearful that Stalin held nally, the Politburo recommended that Kim hopeless, and desperate," and had so much at them personally responsible for the war's ask the Chinese to dispatch truck drivers to stake at the moment, that they went ahead disastrous turn, Kim and Pak inserted a face- North Korea. and asked Stalin for a total commitment, saving proposition for Stalin, i.e., “if for any It is worth noting that Stalin specifically including Soviet ground troops, even with- reason, this (direct military assistance - AM) mentioned in his instructions to Shtykov that out Shtykov's blessing 24
proves to be impossible, please, assist us in their last recommendation should be passed It was on October 1, at 2:50 a.m., that lining up international volunteers' units in to Kim Il Sung without any reference to Stalin received ciphered telegram #1351 from China and other countries of people's de- Moscow, as if it were coming from the Shtykov, containing an official text of the mocracies to be used in providing military Soviet military advisers in the field. The letter of Kim Il Sung and Pak Hon-Yong assistance to our struggle.” Kim and Pak
assistance to our struggle." Kim and Pak probable cause for such reticence may have
been Stalin's belief that the entire question ernment. Otherwise, all had to stay at their generals, implying that the role of the Soviet of the Chinese entry into the war was so post, whatever it was. At the same time, the military advisers to Kim Il Sung and the profound that: 1) he had to discuss it with Foreign Ministry in Moscow insisted that it, KPA would be drastically curtailed, if not Mao directly; and 2) he should not even not Shtykov, should have the final say in abolished altogether. raise it until it was clear that without Chi- each case of anticipatory repatriation. Sur- It is noteworthy that this is one of the nese help the North Koreans would not prisingly, Stalin opted to defer both Shtykov's first instances in the Stalin-Mao corresponsurvive, and until the latter asked for it request and Gromyko’s recommendation for dence where Stalin indicated to Mao his explicitly. Also, Stalin may have wanted to the time being.
willingness to share control over events in probe Mao's intentions and promises and Later that same night, on September 30, Korea. In exchange for shouldering so much put them to a real test, albeit on the minor Stalin, who was vacationing at one of his of the burden of defending of North Korea, issue of truck drivers. Perhaps Stalin even dachas on the Black Sea, was informed about Stalin offered Mao a power-sharing arrangehoped to drag Mao into the war incremen- the content of Zhou Enlai's official speech in ment. Thus, this telegram was a harbinger of tally: according to this scenario, the drivers Beijing earlier that day, in which Zhou stated the looming end of the unilateral Soviet would be the first commitment of man- that “the Chinese people will not tolerate control over North Korea which had lasted power by Mao to Korea, which would later foreign aggression, nor will they supinely since 1945. It also meant that from then on lead to a chain of escalating commitments. tolerate seeing their neighbors being sav- Kim Il Sung would have two masters to
The Politburo made these decisions and agely invaded by the imperialists.” Stalin serve, as well as to play off against each wired some of them to Pyongyang close to may well have sensed that the Chinese might other one in Moscow and one in Beijing. noon on September 30, i.e., before Stalin be ready for action.
At the same time, Stalin felt compelled to received another ciphered telegram #1340 On October 1, at 3:00 a.m., upon
the show some respect for Chinese sensitivities, from Shtykov [Document #5], later that the receipt of Kim Il Sung's desperate plea for in particular, their yearning for national insame day (after 4:55 p.m.). Only then was help, Stalin immediately dictated a telegram dependence and independent decision-makStalin officially informed by him that Seoul to Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai and had it ing; moreover, he was intent to avoid the had fallen and Syngman Rhee was back in wired to Beijing (Document #10). In his possibly very awkward position of being the the capital, promising to complete his drive telegram, first of all he placed all the blame messenger of bad news, in case Mao turned to the North and vanquish Stalin's North for the KPA's collapse and disintegration on down his request. Therefore, Stalin “magKorean comrades; that Kim Il Sung was North Korean military commanders who, in nanimously” designated Mao to deliver his afraid that the UN forces would not halt his opinion, had failed to carry out Kim Il own response directly to Kim Il Sung, stresstheir advance northward at the 38th parallel; Sung's orders for a strategic retreat of the ing that he did not intend to pre-judge the and that the North Koreans would not be main forces from the South. He specifically Chinese comrades and tell Kim Il Sung able to resist the enemy's offensive on their mentioned to Mao that Moscow had fore- about their likely decision, nor would he own.
warned the North Korean political leader- desire to do so in the future, because all the Later in the evening of September 30, ship about possibly devastating consequences honors and gratitude should belong to Mao, in line with the general disposition in Mos- of the U.S. landing at Inch'on as early as
not Stalin. cow toward limiting the Soviet presence September 16, but that the warning was dis- On the evening of October 1, Stalin and risks in Korea, Shtykov requestedevacu- regarded. However, he was careful to avoid approved the text of a Soviet draft resolution ation powers from Moscow (Stalin was in- blaming Kim Il Sung personally, thereby regarding the Korean Question that had been formed of this in a note from Deputy For- indicating to Mao that Kim was still the man drafted at the Foreign Ministry's first Far eign Minister A. A. Gromyko dated Sep- to deal with in Pyongyang. Second, Stalin Eastern Department, approved by Gromyko, tember 30_Document #9]. Shtykov asked informed Mao and Zhou that after their ruin- and submitted for Stalin's consideration. for the right to send back to the USSR all ous defeat in Seoul, the North Koreans no For Stalin, it was a last pitch to the West to Soviet specialists working at the North Ko- longer had any troops capable of resistance, resolve the Korean crisis without major esrean enterprises, 27 as well as some redun- and that the road toward the 38th parallel calation 28 At 9:15 p.m. (Moscow time), in dant personnel of the Soviet organizations from the south was wide open. Finally, Beijing Soviet Ambassador Roshchin delivin the DPRK. As the Soviet Ambassador to Stalin requested that Mao, if possible, “im- ered the content of the draft resolution to the DPRK responsible for the lives of his mediately dispatch at least five to six divi- Zhou Enlai. At 10:45 p.m. (Moscow time), people and anticipating the inevitability of sions toward the 38th parallel so that the Zhou Enlai met Roshchin again and inthe U.S. occupation of North Korea, Shtykov Korean comrades would have an opportu- formed him that Mao agreed with its provinot unnaturally sought emergence authority nity to regroup and form combat reserves sions. An hour later, after learning Mao's to order their evacuation. But Gromyko north of the 38th parallel under the protection view, Stalin immediately ordered it wired to disagreed and advised a different proce- of the Chinese troops.” Stalin suggestedthe Soviet Representative to the United Nadure: In order to show the Soviets' continu- apparently for the first time, that the Chinese tions at Lake Success. 29 ous faith and backing for Kim Il Sung's troops should be designated as “volunteer” It is well known that on October 2, government, he recommended to Stalin that forces. In order to entice Mao further, he Soviet Foreign Minister Vyshinsky presented Shtykov be allowed to repatriate the Soviet indicated that he was ready to share overall the Soviet draft resolution to the Political specialists only after a specific request of command and control over the KPA and the Committee of the General Assembly, which such a nature was made by the DPRK gov- Chinese volunteer forces with the Chinese stipulated an immediate ceasefire, withdrawal of all foreign troops, and general plained, after thoroughly" considering the October 2 which was published in 1987 in an elections in all Korea to be held under inter- matter, many of his comrades now advo- official Chinese document compilation and national supervision. However, at this stage cated a more cautious course of action. has since been relied upon for numerous of the war, after a miraculous landing at Consequently, the PRC would refrain from scholarly accounts; see the attached footInch’on and the recapture of Seoul when the sending troops to Korea, at least for the time note for further information..30 KPA was in ruins, a ceasefire was out of being. Mao attributed this reversal to three Stalin, while undoubtedly sorely disapquestion and totally unacceptable to the West. principal considerations. First, the Chinese pointed, did not know whether Mao had By now, the decision made in Washington, army was poorly armed, ill-prepared, and given his final word or was simply for baron mostly tactical grounds, to cross the 38th had “no confidence” it could defeat the mod- gaining for better terms for China's participarallel, after Inch'on had become an offi- ern American military, which could "force pation in the war. During the day of October cial United Nations operation.
us into retreat." Second, Chinese interven- 5, Stalin conferred with the members of the While waiting for Mao's reply, on Oc- tion in the conflict would “most likely” lead (VKP(b) CC) Politburo. Although the offitober 2, Stalin received information that the to an open Sino-American war, which in cial agenda was designated as “the Question North Korean frontier defenses had begun to turn could drag the USSR into the war due to of Comrade Shtykov," the real issue under crumble under incessant attacks from Rhee's its commitments under the Sino-Soviet Alli- consideration was the nature of the Soviet revenge-hungry troops, and the ROK forces ance Treaty, “and the question would thus national security interest in Korea and how had pushed north beyond the parallel on the become extremely large.” Finally, after to protect it on the ground. All Politburo east coast road heading towards Kosong. He decades of civil war, Chinese entry into the members agreed that a direct Soviet-U.S. sent an angry ciphered telegram to Matveev Korean conflict to confront a powerful confrontation in Korea should be avoided at in Pyongyang (Document #11), reiterating American adversary would provoke wide- all costs, even if the USSR had to abandon his earlier directive to his chief military spread domestic resentment within the PRC North Korea. In his memoirs, Khrushchev representative in Korea to do his utmost to toward the newly-established People's Gov- recalls that "When the threat (after Inch'on) bring the remnants of the KPA mired in the ernment, and wreck the leadership's plan for emerged, Stalin became resigned to the idea south back into the north, and to hold the peaceful reconstruction.
that North Korea would be annihilated, and frontline along the 38th parallel.
Therefore, Mao reluctantly concluded, that the Americans would reach our border. In the meantime, in Beijing, the crisis it was necessary to “show patience now," I remember quite well that in connection was building on October 2: ignoring Zhou's focus on building military strength for a with the exchange of opinions on the Korean warnings, ROK troops with U.S. backing possible later conflict, and in the meantime question, Stalin said: 'So what? Let the had crossed the 38th parallel a day earlier; accept a temporary defeat in Korea while the United States of America be our neighbors Kim Il Sung was begging for direct military North Koreans "change the form of the in the Far East. They will come there, but we assistance; and, finally, Stalin was person- struggle to partisan war.” Mao concluded shall not fight them now. We are not ready ally urging Mao to intervene in Korea. Con- his message by noting that this decision was to fight. "31 The upshot of the Politburo sequently, that day Mao convened the first provisional and awaited a final determina- discussion was a decision to increase presof a series of enlarged meetings of the Chi- tion by the Central Committee of the Chi- sure on Mao to extract an unequivocal comnese Communist Party Central Committee nese Communist Party; in the meantime, he mitment from China to enter the war. (CCP CC) Politburo in Beijing to formulate was ready to send Zhou Enlai and Lin Biao Thus, it appears that as a result of cumuthe Chinese response. New documents from to Stalin's vacation home for direct consul- lative discussions and a series of incrementhe Russian Presidential Archive suggest tations. In conveying Mao's telegram, which tal decisions dated September 27, Septemthat at their first meeting the CCP CC Polit- was dated October 2, an obviously shocked ber 30, and October 5, the Soviet Politburo buro members discussed general reasons Roshchin noted that this new position flatly adopted a major policy shift in the Soviet why the PRC should or should not enter the contradicted repeated assurances from Chi- policy toward Korea. The Soviet leadership war in Korea and decided that the risks nese leaders that the People's Liberation appears to have decided to begin to limit outweighed the benefits of China's direct Army was ready, indeed, in high “fighting Soviet military and political exposure in military intervention at that time. Zhou spirit,” to aid the Koreans and to defeat the Korea, and at the same time permit a greater Enlai and Lin Biao's negative position pre- Americans. The Soviet envoy could only Chinese role in the alliance decision-making vailed, and Mao felt obliged to inform Stalin speculate on the reasons for the turnabout in on Korea. of the Chinese hesitations and lack of deci- the Beijing leadership's stand: the interna- In this light, given the continuous detesion.
tional situation, the “worsening” predica- rioration of the military situation in Korea, On October 3, the Soviet ambassador in ment in Korea, and/or Anglo-American "in- as well as the Soviet leaders’ determination Beijing, Roshchin, relayed Mao Zedong's trigues" through the intercession of Indian to see Chinese, not Soviet, troops fighting negative response. (See Document #12.) Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (It is there, the Politburo overruled the Foreign Replying to Stalin's October 1 entreaty to important to note that this account of Mao's Ministry's objections and decided, as one of enter the war, Mao acknowledged that the October 2 communication to Stalin, inform- the first steps aimed at curtailing the Soviet Chinese leadership had "originally planned" ing him of Chinese refusal to enter the war, presence in Korea, to grant Ambassador to send “several volunteer divisions” to as- based on newly-declassified documents int Shtykov the evacuation powers that he resist the “Korean comrades” once the enemy he Russian archives, fundamentally contra- quested with respect to some Soviet specialcrossed the 38th parallel. However, he ex- dicts the purported Mao to Stalin message of ists employed by the DPRK government and