Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov travelled to Washington to meet with U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt. He asked for an immediate invasion of France to take pressure off the Red Army by creating a second European front. In this meeting, Molotov stressed how badly the war was going for the Red Army and suggested that Adolf Hitler might defeat the Soviet Union in 1942 unless a second front was launched. Roosevelt wanted to give Molotov good news to take home to encourage the Soviets to keep fighting, so the draft communiqué prepared after the talks noted that an "understanding" had been reached about a second European front in 1942. American high command, including U.S. Army chief of staff General George C. Marshall, worried that the Soviets might view this as a firm commitment that the U.S. military might not be able to fulfill.
Molotov returned to Moscow, believing he had reached a full understanding with the Americans about a second front in Europe. Just as American generals had feared, the communiqué was seen by Stalin as a firm promise to launch D-Day in 1942.
Stalin received further catastrophic news when the Allies told him there could be no second front in 1942 due to military setbacks, particularly in North Africa, where British and free French forces were battling the Italian and German armies. Stalin felt betrayed and was increasingly growing to believe he could not trust the British or the Americans.
To allay Stalin's fears, Winston Churchill, prime minister of Great Britain, in one of the most arduous journeys undertaken by a political leader during the war, left London and flew thousands of miles in an unheated bomber to Moscow to try and make friends with Stalin.