Stalin, Mao, Kim, and China's Decision to Enter the Korean War, Sept. 16-Oct. 15, 1950: New Evidence from Russian Archives, article and translations by Alexandre Y. Mansourov

Document 1: Soviet Defense Minister A.M. Vasilevsky to Stalin, 21 September 1950

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Document 1: Soviet Defense Minister A.M. Vasilevsky to Stalin, 21 September 1950

To Comrade STALIN

Regarding the question of the transfer of fighter aviation regiment of "YAK-9s" to provide air cover to Pyongyang, I herewith report:
1. In order to speed up the regiment transfer, we consider it the most expedient to use the 84th fighter regiment of the 147th aviation division based on 40 metal-made "YAK-9s", deployed in the Maritime Region in the vicinity of Voroshilov. The regiment shall be dispatched by air via Chinese territory by the route Yanji-Andong-Pyongyang. The regiment's overflight should take two days. During the preparation for the overflight one has to take into account the inevitability of air combat in the area of Andong-Pyongyang.
2. In a very cautious manner, we made a number of inquires to Comrade Shtykov concerning the following questions:
- the suitability for the landing of our aircraft of airbases in the vicinity of Pyongyang which have been badly damaged by the enemy's air raids, especially lately;
- the availability of aircraft maintenance personnel, fuel, and munitions thereat.
3. If the Koreans do not have aircraft maintenance crews, before the regiment's transfer we will have to dispatch an aviation maintenance battalion for this regiment, composed of 223 men with air-base equipment, to Pyongyang by the railroad via Andong. It is likely to take us five-six days to transfer this battalion, given the transport overload across the Yalu River in the vicinity of Andong.
If the Koreans do not have fuel and munitions, we will have to ship them to Pyongyang simultaneously with the battalion transport.
In this case, accounting for the transfer of the personnel, it is likely to take up to eight-ten days for the final readiness of the regiment for combat in the vicinity of Pyongyang.
4. Bearing in mind the lack of Korean aerial surveillance and alert system in the vicinity of Pyongyang, in order to create normal conditions in combat for our regiment, we would consider it necessary to dispatch along with the regiment at least several radar units designed to locate the enemy's aircraft, as well as a team of radio operators who can set up communications between the airbase and these radar posts. Otherwise, our airplanes on the ground will be subject to sudden raids by the enemy's aviation.
5. We ask You to give us permission to report all our final calculations regarding the regiment's transfer to Pyongyang as soon as we find out in Pyongyang the details related to the questions of the regiment's redeployment. At the same time, we will report to You our considerations concerning the organization of the air defense system of the airbase from which the regiment will operate.



"21" September 1950

No. 1172cc
Copies: Stalin, Malenkov, Beriya, Mikoyan, Kaganovich, Bulganin, Khrushchev.
[Source: Archive of the President, Russian Federation (APRF), fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 79-80]

Document 2: Vasilevsky to Stalin, 23 September 1950

To Comrade STALIN

I herewith report concerning the undertaken measures relating to the redeployment of the fighter aviation regiment based on the "LA-9" type of aircraft from the Maritime Region to provide air cover for the city of Pyongyang.
1. For the redeployment we assigned the 304th fighter aviation regiment of the 32nd fighter aviation division numbering 40 airplanes "LA-9" currently deployed at the air base Spassk in the Maritime Region.
On October 1-2, the regiment will be redeployed by air via Chinese territory by the route Spassk-Dongning-Yanji-Tonghua-Andong-Pyongyang.
We will carefully elaborate the flight plan, especially regarding its segment from Andong to Pyongyang, and the regiment's pilot crews will study it thoroughly.
2. The information which we received from Korea indicates that airdromes in the vicinity of Pyongyang are still suitable for operation.
At present, there are no maintenance personnel at these airdromes because they had all been redeployed to airfields south of Seoul. Neither are there fuel and munitions for combat aircraft in the vicinity of Pyongyang.
Therefore, first, from September 25 to September 30, we will transport the following by railroad from the Maritime Region via Andong to their destinations:
- a team for the technical maintenance of the regiment with the minimum required airbase equipment;
- a team of radio technicians with four radar units for locating the enemy's planes and guiding our planes thereto;
- an air defense artillery battalion consisting of three 85-mm gun batteries and one 37-mm gun battery, in total 16 artillery guns, for providing air cover to the airdrome;
- fuel for 15 refueling cycles and 15 sets of munitions.
3. On September 24, in order to organize the reception of the regiment and its combat operation, we are sending by car from the Maritime Region to Pyongyang the commander of the aviation corps Colonel Noga who is supposed to meet the regiment in Andong, assign combat tasks thereto, and be in charge of its flight over to Pyongyang.
4. The regiment is expected to commence fulfilling its combat mission aimed at covering Pyongyang from the air on October 3.
5. At the same time, we consider it necessary to report that our pilots' work in the skies over Pyongyang will inevitably be discovered by the U.S. troops right after the first air combat, because all the control and command over the combat in the air will be conducted by our pilots in the Russian language.



"23" September 1950

[Source: APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 81-82]

Document 3: Telegram from Fyn Si (Stalin) to Matveyev (Army Gen. M.V. Zakharov) and Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK T.F. Shtykov, approved 27 September 1950 Soviet Communist Party Central Committee Politburo
# P78/73
27 September 1950
[To:] Cmrds Malenkov, Bulganin, Vasilevsky

Extract Minutes from Protocol #78 of the Meeting of the Politburo of the CC VKP(b) Decision dated September 27, 1950

#73. - Questions of Korea.
Approve of the attached directive to Comrades Matveyev and Shtykov.

Secretary of the C[entral] C[ommittee]

* * * * *

Attachment to
#73 (op) of the Politburo Protocol #78
Top Secret


The serious predicament in the area of Seoul and in the South-East in which the Korean People's Army has found itself lately has to a great extent been caused by a series of grave mistakes made by the Frontline Command, the Commands of the Army Groups and army groupings in matters related to command and control over troops, as well as to the tactics of their combat use in particular.
It is our military advisers who are even more to blame for these mistakes. Our military advisers failed to implement scrupulously and in a timely fashion the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief for the withdrawal of four divisions from the central front to the area of Seoul despite the fact that at the moment of adopting this decision such a possibility existed. Consequently, they lost seven days which brought about an enormous tactical advantage in the vicinity of Seoul to the U.S. troops. Had they pulled out these divisions on time, this could have changed the military situation around Seoul considerably. Odd battalions and separate detachments arriving in the vicinity of Seoul, unprepared for combat, could not produce any effect because of lack of coordination and communications with the staff. The division which arrived from the southeast was thrown into combat in a disorganized manner and in odd units, which made it easier for the enemy to decimate and annihilate it. As we directed earlier, you should have deployed this division for combat at the line northeast and east of Seoul, reorganize it there, give its soldiers at least one day of respite, prepare it for battle and only afterwards introduce these troops into combat.
One cannot help taking serious note of erroneous and absolutely inadmissible tactics for tank use in combat. Lately you have used tanks in combat without preliminary artillery strikes aimed at clearing the field for tank maneuvers. As a consequence, the enemy easily destroys your tanks. Our military advisers who have personal experience from the Great Patriotic War must be aware that such ignorant use of tanks leads to their loss.
One cannot help noticing the strategic illiteracy of our advisers and their incompetence in intelligence matters. They failed to grasp the strategic importance of the enemy's assault landing in Inch'on, denied the gravity of its implications, while Shtykov even suggested that we should bring to trial the author of an article in the "Pravda" about the U.S. assault landing. This blindness and lack of strategic experience led to the fact that they doubted the necessity of redeploying troops from the South toward Seoul, as well as procrastinated over their redeployment and slowed it down considerably, thereby losing a week to the enemy's enjoyment.
The assistance provided by our military advisers to the Korean Command in such paramount matters as communications, command and control over troops, organization of intelligence and combat is exceptionally weak. As a result of this, the KPA troops, in essence, are beyond control: they are engaged in combat blindly and cannot arrange the coordination between the various armed services in battle. One can tolerate such a situation during a successful offensive, but one cannot allow this to happen when the frontline situation is worsening.
You must elucidate all these points to our military advisers, and first of all to Vasilyev.
In the present military situation, in order to provide assistance to the Korean Command, especially in the questions of an organized pullout of the KPA troops from the southeast and the prompt organization of a new defense front to the east, south, and north of Seoul, our military advisers must arrange the following:
1. The pullout of the main forces must be conducted under the protection of strong rear guards dispatched from the divisions and capable of rendering serious resistance to the enemy. This can be achieved if the command over the rear guards is assigned to commanders with considerable military experience, if the rear guards are strengthened with standing and antitank artillery, field engineering units, and, if possible, with tanks.
2. The rear guards must engage in combat from defensive line to defensive line, making broad use of engineering fortifications, including mines and materials at hand.
The rear guards must act decisively and actively in order to gain the time required for the pullout of the main forces.
3. The bulk of the troops of the divisions, to the extent possible, must be withdrawn in a compact manner, ready to force their way forward, but not in separate and odd units. The major force must dispatch strong forward guards armed with artillery and, if possible, with tanks.
4. Tanks must be used only in joint action with infantry and only after preliminary artillery fire.
5. One must dispatch forward detachments to occupy and hold ravines, bridges, ferries, passes and important road junctions located along the way of the movement of the major forces until the latter pass through them.
6. Special attention must be paid to the questions of the organization of field intelligence, as well as flank protection and maintenance of communications between marching troops' columns.
7. When preparing for defense, one should avoid stretching out the troops along the entire front line but tightly cover the main directions and set up strong reserve units for active actions.
8. When setting up communications with troops via the line of the Korean Command, one must utilize radio with the use of codes.
In the future, while organizing the work of our military advisers in accordance with this directive, you must undertake all necessary measures so that none of our military advisers will be captured by the enemy, as was directed earlier.
Report on the implementation of this directive.


[Source: APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 90-93]

Document 4: Ciphered telegram from Matveyev (Zakharov) to Fyn Si (Stalin), 26 [27] September 1950


From Pyongyang Sent on 26.9.50 at 8:101 a.m., by wire

Received in Moscow on 27.9.50 at 20:55 p.m.
Arrived in the 8th MDGS2 on 27.9.50 at 21:10 p.m.
Deciphered by Morozov on 27.9.50 at 23:50 p.m.
Number of copies made - 10
Distribution List:
Stalin - 2,Molotov - 1, Malenkov -1,
Beria -1, Mikoyan - 1, Kaganovich - 1,
Bulganin - 1, Vasilevsky - 1, 8th MDGS file - 1.


Having familiarized myself with the predicament of the KPA, I report:
The situation of the People's Army troops on the Western (Seoul) and South-eastern (Pusan) fronts is severe.
Seeking to encircle and destroy the main forces of the People's Army, it is in the general direction of Ch'ungju that the U.S. troops have concentrated the major efforts of the assault group which had landed in the area of Chemulp'o, as well as of the troops that had launched an offensive from the area to the North and Northwest of Taegu.
Using the support of the air force which has dominated the air space without hindrance and caused aircraft-fright [aviaboiazn'] both among the ranks within the People's Army and in the rear areas, the U.S. troops have managed to move from Suwon eastward and southeastward for 25 to 30 kilometers and some of their troops took over Sangju and Antó to the north and northwest of Taegu.
According to the information which still needs to be verified, some tank units of the enemy's Seoul group continue to advance toward Ch'ungju, which creates the danger of encirclement of the First Army Group of the KPA.
The People's Army troops, suffering heavy losses, mainly from the enemy's airforce, having lost almost all their tanks and much artillery, are engaged in difficult battles to hold their positions. The troops lack ammunition and fuel the delivery of which has been virtually halted. The accounting for the available weapons and ammunition is organized unsatisfactorily. The top-down command and control system is set up poorly. The wire and radio communications work intermittently because of the interruptions inflicted by the enemy's air raids and due to the lack of qualified radio operators and the lack of fuel for radio station generators correspondingly. Courier mail is almost nonexistent.
The predicament of the KPA troops, in particular on the Southeastern front, remains unclear.
Upon our recommendation, on the night of 26.9.50 [26 September 1950], some Korean communications officers were dispatched to the Front Command and the Seoul group in order to collect information on the troops' situation.
On 25.9.50, at 19:00 pm, local time, Kim Il Sung's order was forwarded to the troops, according to which the Seoul grouping and the Second Army Group operating in the northern part of the southeastern front were told to go on the defensive and hold up the enemy by any means.
The troops of the Second Army Group operating in the central and southern parts of the southeastern front were ordered to begin general retreat northwestward with the aim of getting to the area of Chénchang, Taejon, Poún for further levelling off the front line approximately following the line Seoul, Yóju, Ch'ungju [in Russian translation: Seoul, Reisiu, Tsiusiu, Naidzio, Urutsin].
On 26.9.50, KIM IL SUNG received our group.
The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister PAK HÓN-YÓNG and Comrade SHTYKOV.
As a result of our conversation, KIM IL SUNG decided to combine the duties of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and Defense Minister in his hands, to set up a Staff Office for the Supreme Commander-in-Chief for the command and control over troops, and to pay serious attention to the work of the rear.
At present, they have begun to form only six infantry divisions in the northern part of Korea, whereas the current military situation has made impossible the formation of nine infantry divisions manned with the Southerners.
KIM IL SUNG issued a directive to take immediate steps aimed at withdrawing the remaining KPA troops from South Korea so that to use it to form new divisions in North Korea and deny this opportunity to the South.
In connection with the fact that the Chinese railroads are overloaded transporting supplies to Korea, it is desirable that the armaments designated for use by the six divisions which are being newly formed be shipped first, and only then should the ammunition be delivered.
After our conversation with KIM IL SUNG we got down to work in order to assist in:
- organizing good command and control over troops;
- rearranging the system of troop supplies, shipments, and transport services;
- preparing defensive fortifications.
The People's Army is experiencing a dire shortage of drivers. The 3,400 trucks which are to arrive soon have no drivers at all. It may be expedient to propose to Kim Il Sung that he ask the Chinese friends to dispatch not less than 1,500 drivers to Korea, may it not?


# 1298/sh
12:35pm, Pyongyang time
Typed by Budanova on 28.9.50 at 0:15 a.m.
[Source: APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 103-106]

Document 5: Ciphered Telegram, Shtykov to Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Instantsia (Stalin), 29 September 1950



Sent on 09/29/50 at 20:23 p.m.
Received in Moscow on 09/30/50 at 14:45 p.m.
Received at the 8D/GS on 09/30/50 at 14:50 p.m.
Deciphered by Vakushin on 09/30/50 at 15:50 p.m
Distribution list - 12 copies:
Stalin - 2, Molotov - 1, Malenkov - 1,
Beria - 1, Mikoyan -1, Kaganovich - 1,
Bulganin - 1, Gromyko - 1, 8 MDGS - 1,
MFA - 1, on file - 1.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
To Comrade GROMYKO
Instantsia [Highest Authority]

On 29 September 29 I met KIM IL SUNG upon his request.

PAK HÓN-YÓNG was present at the meeting. In the beginning of the conversation KIM IL SUNG asked me whether I was aware of the military situation at the front.
I replied that I did not know the latest one.
Then KIM IL SUNG briefly explained to me the predicament of his troops on the basis of the report of the Front Commander and asked my advice as to what one could do in order to improve the situation at the front. KIM IL SUNG believes that in the wake of the enemy's having occupied the Syarye mountain range and moving into the rear of the Second Army Group the front situation is becoming particularly troublesome. Earlier they hoped that they would be able to withdraw troops in an organized manner. But because of their poor discipline and failure to fulfill orders, the enemy managed to cut off the First Army Group and is moving to cut off the Second Army Group by its breakthrough toward P'UNGGI [BUNKEI] and JIJYON [TISEN].
The situation in Seoul is also murky. His orders notwithstanding, CH'OE YONGGÓN does not report anything, despite the fact that a line of communications with him is available.
I replied that it was hard for me to advise anything regarding this matter because I did not know the predicament of the KPA troops and their location, however, I would consider it expedient for KIM IL SUNG to take urgent steps to organize defense along the 38th parallel, including immediate deployment of troops at the already prepared fortifications there.
KIM IL SUNG asked me, how do you consider [the situation], will the adversary cross the 38th parallel northward?
I replied that it was not clear yet, but that they had to undertake urgent measures to set up defenses along the 38th parallel.
KIM IL SUNG reiterated his earlier stated desire to unify the country by his own means, he stated that he wanted to form 15 divisions and to continue the struggle, but it was not clear for him whether the adversary would cross the 38th parallel or not. Should the enemy cross the 38th parallel, they [the North Korean leadership - AM] would be unable to form new troops and they would have no means to render any serious resistance to the enemy.
In this connection, he would like to ask my advice regarding his letter to Comrade STALIN. They discussed this idea and want to send the letter.
I responded that I could give no advice on this matter. At that moment, PAK HÓN-YÓNG joined the conversation and said that they had already drafted a letter, that the WPKs Political Council had discussed it, and they wanted to familiarize me with its content.
I dodged the reading by saying that it was up to the Political Council what its members were going to write in their letter.
On 28.9.50, [A.I.] SHABSHIN, a member of MATVEYEV'S group, told MATVEYEV and myself that at a chance meeting with PAK HÓN-YÓNG the latter told him that the Political Council had discussed and adopted a text of the letter addressed to comrade Stalin, containing a request to aid Korea with air support.
PAK informed SHABSHIN that they had dispatched a letter in reply to MAO ZEDONG which contained a hint about aid.
It was obvious that they [Kim and Pak - AM] were not satisfied with my earlier reply and they did not know what to do with their letter to Comrade STALIN.
KIM IL SUNG and PAK HÓN-YÓNG are nervous. In the present difficult situation one can feel some confusion and hopelessness.
The military situation has worsened dramatically lately. The adversary managed to cut off the entire First Army Group composed of six divisions and two brigades, as well as, by advancing to the vicinity of CH'ÓNGJU, to cut off the Second Army Group composed of 7 divisions. Seoul fell. There are no standby troops ready to render any serious resistance to the enemy advancing to the 38th parallel.
New military units being formed in the North advance to the frontline very slowly because the railroads in fact do not function due to the demolished bridges and ruined railway stations, while automobile transport is scarce.
These new units lack armaments. The newly formed units and groupings designated to defend CHEMULP'O, HAEJU, WÓNSAN, and CH'ÓNGJIN have weapons designed for training purposes only.
The political situation is also getting more and more complicated.
The enemy stepped up its activity of dropping paratroopers into the territory of North Korea with the task of gathering intelligence on what deliveries are being shipped from the Soviet Union and to conduct subversive activities. Reactionary forces are raising their heads in North Korea.


No. 1340
Typed by Lobyseva on 09/30/50 at 16:55 p.m.
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 347, listy 46-49]

Document 6: Ciphered Telegram, DPRK leader Kim Il Sung and South Korean Communist leader Pak Hon-Yong to Stalin (via Shtykov), 29 September 1950


Sent from Pyongyang by wire on 09/30/50 at 20:35 p.m.

Received in Moscow on 09/30/50 at 23:32 p.m.
Arrived in the 8 MDGS on 09/30/50 at 23:30 p.m.
Deciphered by Mikhaylenko on 10/01/50 at 0:35 a.m.
Distribution list - 12 copies:
Stalin - 2, Molotov - 1, Malenkov - 1, Beria -1, Mikoyan - 1, Kaganovich - 1, Bulganin - 1, Gromyko - 1.

Extremely Urgent

To Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR


I herewith relay the text of a letter addressed to Comrade STALIN which I received from KIM IL SUNG and PAK HÓN-YÓNG (translation from the Korean).

This letter was handed over to me by PAK HÓN-YÓNG in person.


No. 1351
Enclosure: 4-page letter.
This letter was cabled to Comrade Stalin on 10.01.50 at 12:50 p.m.
Typed by Shcherbakova on 10/01/50 at 1:45 a.m.

* * * * *

Moscow, Kremlin.

On behalf of the Workers' Party of Korea, we express to You, the liberator of the Korean people and the leader of the working peoples of the entire world, our profound gratitude for compassion and assistance which You constantly provide to our people struggling for the freedom and independence of its Motherland.

In this letter, we would like to brief You on the current situation at the fronts of the liberation war of our people against the American aggressors.
Prior to the assault landing at Inch'ón (Chemulp'o) one could not judge the situation at the fronts as unfavorable to us. The adversary, suffering one defeat after another, was cornered into a tiny piece of land at the southern-most tip of South Korea and we had a great chance of winning a victory in the last decisive battles.
Such a situation considerably damaged the military authority of the United States. Therefore, in those conditions, in order to restore its prestige and to implement by any means its long-held plans of conquering Korea and transforming it into its military-strategic bridgehead, on 16.9.50, the U.S. performed an assault landing operation and landed a considerable number of troops and armaments in the vicinity of Inch'ón after having mobilized almost all its land, naval, and air troops deployed in the Pacific ocean. The enemy took over Inch'ón and is engaged in street combats in the city of Seoul itself. The military situation became perilous.
The units of our People's Army heroically fight against advancing assault landing units of the enemy. However, we consider it necessary to report to You about the emergence of very unfavorable conditions for us.
The enemy's air force numbering about a thousand airplanes of various types, facing no rebuff from our side, totally dominate the air space and perform air raids at the fronts and in the rear day and night. At the fronts, under the air cover of hundreds of airplanes the motorized units of the enemy engage us in combat at their free will and inflict great losses to our manpower and destroy our armaments. Moreover, by freely destroying railroads and highways, telegraph and telephone communications lines, means of transportation and other facilities, the enemy's air force impedes the provision of supplies to our combat units and bars maneuvers by our troops, thereby making their timely redeployments impossible. We experience this difficulty on all fronts.
Having cut off all the communications lines of our troops and joined the assault force that landed in Inch'ón with the units of their southern front that broke through our frontline, the adversary has a real opportunity to take over the city of Seoul completely.
As a result, the units of the People's Army that are still fighting in the southern part of Korea have been cut off from the northern part of Korea, they are torn into pieces and cannot receive munitions, armaments, and food rations. Moreover, some units do not have any communication with each other, while some of them are surrounded by enemy troops.
After taking over Seoul completely, the enemy is likely to launch a further offensive into North Korea. Therefore, we believe that if in future the above-mentioned conditions unfavorable to us continue, then the American aggression ultimately will be successful.
In order to provide troops with all the necessary supplies and to feed the frontline without any interruption, first of all, we need to have an appropriate air force. But we do not possess well-trained pilots.
Dear Comrade STALIN, we are determined to overcome all the difficulties facing us so that Korea will not be a colony and a military springboard of the U.S. imperialists. We will fight for the independence, democracy and happiness of our people to the last drop of blood. Therefore, with all our energy we are taking decisive measures for the formation and training of many new divisions with the aim of using more than 100,000 troops mobilized in South Korea [captured in South Korea - AM] in the most advantageous operational areas, as well as arming the entire people so as to be prepared to fight a protracted war.
This notwithstanding, if the enemy does not give us time to implement the measures which we plan, and, making use of our extremely grave situation, steps up its offensive operations into North Korea, then we will not be able to stop the enemy troops solely with our own forces.
Therefore, dear Iosif Vissarionovich, we cannot help asking You to provide us with special assistance. In other words, at the moment when the enemy troops cross over the 38th parallel we will badly need direct military assistance from the Soviet Union.
If for any reason this is impossible, please assist us by forming international volunteer units in China and other countries of people's democracy for rendering military assistance to our struggle.
We request Your directive regarding the aforementioned proposal.
Respectfully, The CC of the Workers' Party of Korea


29 September 1950
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 347, listy 41-45]

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