The relations between the Ottoman Empire and Bolshevik Russia (1917-1918)
Oğuz, C. Cem
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The fear of being left alone against Russia in an environment of confronting blocs was the main factor behind the decision of the Ottoman government to enter the First World War on the side of the Central Powers. The liberation of the Muslims of Russia from the Russian yoke henceforth became one of the important war objectives of the Ottoman Supreme Command. Nevertheless, the tragic defeat of the Ottoman army in Sankarru~ did not only constitute a serious obstacle against the realization of these aspirations, but it also helped the Russian army to penetrate deep into Ottoman territory. The outbreak of the revolution in Russia and the Bolshevik power seizure in October 1917 provided the Ottoman government with the opportunity of compensating war losses and realizing the strategic aims embodied on the eve and at the beginning of the Great War. The Ottoman government's policy with regard to Russia between 1917-1918 can be analyzed under two main stages. In the short-run the primary aim was the restoration of the pre-war frontier with Russia and acquisition of as much territory in Transcaucasia as possible. With the Russian Treaty of BrestLitovsk, the Ottoman government successfully accomplished its plans with regard to Transcaucasia. In the long-run Ottoman leaders aimed at separating Transcaucasia from Russia in order to create therein independent states that would prevent Russian aggression in the future. In spite of the peace treaty with the Bolsheviks, the Ottoman army continued its military operations in the region. The Ottoman government did everything in its power, militarily or politically, to persuade the Transcaucasian peoples to proclaim their independence. As time went on, Ottomans were not only satisfied with Transcaucasia and North Caucasia was made part of these strategic aims. There were even plans concerning the independence of the Muslims of the Volga basin and Turkestan. Consequently, the primary subject of the relations between the Ottoman and Bolshevik governments in the final two years of the war was the Ottoman activities with regard to the Caucasus region and the Muslims of Russia. These Ottoman objectives not only caused disagreements with the Bolsheviks, but also became a serious source of contention with Germany.