Browsing by Author "Kopisto, Lauri"

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  • Kopisto, Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Soon after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a three-year civil war broke out in Russia. As in many other civil wars, foreign powers intervened in the conflict. Britain played a leading role in this intervention and had a significant effect on the course of the war. Without this intervention on the White side, the superiority of numbers in manpower and weaponry of the Bolsheviks would have quickly overwhelmed their opponents. The aim of this dissertation is to explain the nature and role of the British intervention on the southern, and most decisive, front of the Civil War. The political decision making in London is studied as a background, but the focus of the dissertation is on the actual implementation of the British policy in Russia. The British military mission arrived in South Russia in late 1918, and started to provide General Denikin s White army with ample supplies. General Denikin would have not been able to build his army of more than 200,000 men or to make his operation against Moscow without the British matériel. The British mission also organized the training and equipping of the Russian troops with British weapons. This made the material aid much more effective. Many of the British instructors took part in fighting the Bolsheviks despite the orders of their government. The study is based on primary sources produced by British departments of state and members of the British mission and military units in South Russia. Primary sources from the Whites, including the personal collections of several key figures of the White movement and official records of the Armed Forces of South Russia are also used to give a balanced picture of the course of events. It is possible to draw some general conclusions from the White movement and reasons for their defeat from the study of the British intervention. In purely material terms the British aid placed Denikin s army in a far more favourable position than the Bolsheviks in 1919, but other military defects in the White army were numerous. The White commanders were unimaginative, their military thinking was obsolete, and they were incapable of organizing the logistics of their army. There were also fundamental defects in the morale of the White troops. In addition to all political mistakes of Denikin s movement and a general inability to adjust to the complex situation in Revolutionary Russia, the Whites suffered a clear military defeat. In South Russia the Whites were defeated not because of the lack of British aid, but rather in spite of it.