Operation Argonaut

This was an inter-Allied linked pair of meetings at Malta in the Mediterranean as ‘Cricket’ (30 January/2 February 1945) and at Yalta in the southern USSR as ‘Magneto’ (4/11 February 1945).

The first was a summit meeting of the Allies’ military and political leaderships (Combined Chiefs-of-Staff Committee as well as Edward Stettinius and Anthony Eden, respectively the US secretary of state and British foreign secretary) and designed to finalise arrangements for the closing stages of the wars against Germany and Japan, and the latter altogether more significant as the ‘big three’ (namely Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Premier Iosif Stalin) and some 700 of their political and military advisers met.

The 'big three' agreed on the Allies’ post-war spheres of influence, especially in Europe, and the fact that the USSR would come into the war against Japan in August 1945 in return for the Kurile islands, the whole of Sakhalin island and a dominant position in Manchuria.

The purely military subjects of discussion were the strategy of the Western Allies in the final stages of the battle for Germany (‘Cricket’ [ii]) and the manner in which liaison with the Soviet forces would be undertaken during this campaign (‘Magneto’), and way in which the occupation of Germany and Austria would be arranged (‘Magneto’).

But apart from agreeing to an Allied-Control Commission for Germany, and that France should be one of the occupying powers, little of real importance was achieved. Unlike the situation in earlier summit conferences, in which military strategy predominated, the three leaders were concerned primarily with diplomatic negotiations associated with the establishment of the overall shape of the post-war world.

Without the knowledge of Churchill, a secret agreement was reached to cover the USSR’s demands in return for a Soviet entry into the war against Japan. Although Chinese interests were affected by this agreement, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was another who was not informed of the agreement, which included preservation of the status quo of Mongolia, return to the USSR of the southern part of Sakhalin island, and Soviet acquisition of the Kurile islands.

The most difficult discussions centred on the Polish government and Poland’s frontiers, but an agreement of sorts, though only temporary, was reached. Other successes at the talks included the settlement of voting rights in the United Nations, a matter which the Dumbarton Oaks conference (21 August/7 October 1944) had failed to resolve, agreement that all nationals accused of being deserters or traitors should be returned to their countries of origin, and the issue of the Declaration on Liberated Europe.