All my history The Byzantine Empire covered European civilization from the eastern hordes, who sought to flood Europe. For a thousand years, the great Orthodox empire carried its cross, fulfilling its historic task with dignity - controlling the geostrategic straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. But this is the story that the Straits - the most important geopolitical knot of Eurasia - became Turkish.
The Bosphorus connects the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea, and the Dardanelles connects the European part of Turkey (the Gallipoli peninsula) and the Asian (north-western part of Asia Minor), the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea.
Like a century ago, the Straits remain the center of world geopolitics. And the age-old interest of Russia, the state of the Black Sea, to their status is logical - the question of the fate of the Straits was and is of crucial importance for the Russian economy and foreign policy.
In the 20th century, the Turkish Straits were of even more serious economic and strategic importance for our country. Suffice it to say that at the beginning of the century - 80%, and in the middle - 50% of exports of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, respectively, passed through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. The straits were the strategic "pipe", passing through which the fleets of the great maritime powers could attack the southern underbelly of Russia.
Il 1. General view of the Turkish Straits.
During the First World Control of the Straits of Turkey, this was also the main opportunity for Russia to implement military-technical cooperation with its allies. After all, the entry of Turkey into the war on the side of the German bloc automatically put Russia (very interested in regular military-technical cooperation with the allies) in an almost complete (except for Vladivostok and Arkhangelsk with Murmansk) blockade.
Initially, the Entente did not give a definite answer to the vital question for the Russian Empire about the post-war state affiliation of the Straits. But the hope for a favorable resolution of this issue for Russia appeared during the Dardanelles strategic operation - the British government in a memorandum of its Petrograd embassy from 12. 03. 1915 officially recognized Russian claims, both in the Straits and Istanbul (Constantinople). There were only two conditions: first, bringing the war to a victorious end and, second, satisfying the similar territorial wishes of Great Britain and France. 16. 04. 1915 managed to achieve agreement on the accession of the Straits region and Constantinople to Russia - on the basis of the conditions stipulated in the English memorandum - and from France. In response, the Russian government agreed to the Allies to implement any compensation at the expense of the Ottoman Empire — that is, the long overdue question of dividing Turkey was raised.
Il 2. Map of the Entente Agreement on the Straits in the spring of 1915
Thus, after Turkey entered the German bloc, for the first time in 200 years of diplomatic confrontation, a unique situation emerged - the once united front of European powers, usually formed against Russia and aimed at preventing its positions in the Middle East and the Balkans, split.
The military-political leadership of Russia in the spring of 1915 was planning the Bosporus operation. Initially, it was conceived as an auxiliary operation of the Russian armed forces - to meet broken through allies, and in 1916 - 1917. - as an independent operation. Unfortunately, the course of the hostilities and the February coup that followed did not allow this opportunity to be realized.
Of key importance was the attitude to this promising strategic operation of the high command of Russia. The episode reproduced by Rear Admiral A. D. Bubnov is very indicative: when at the beginning of the war he attended the Supreme Commander’s breakfast, the quartermaster-general of the Stavka Yu. N. Danilov answered the question about the fate of the Straits that we will be on the Oder - that is, after the victory over Germany. He was convinced that the problem of the Straits would be solved by a victory over Germany and the Chief of Staff of the Second Headquarters M. V. Alekseev, who considered the Bosporus operation an unnecessary undertaking, distracting troops from the main theater. Not surprisingly, he sabotaged the implementation of this operation in 1916 in every possible way.
And this is despite the fact that the operational-strategic situation in the 1916 campaign was taking shape on the Russian front very favorably. By the spring of this year, due to a series of military catastrophes on the Caucasian front, failures in Palestine and in the Suez Canal area, heavy losses during the defense of the Dardanelles, the combat capability of the Turkish troops was seriously undermined, and their resources were exhausted.
The German High Command, demanding, in connection with the successes of the Offensive of the Southwestern Front in the summer of 1916, the transfer to Galicia of a selected Turkish corps (which absorbed all the most combat-ready units and formations from the grouping concentrated in the Straits and near Constantinople) exposed the region Straits. And after the departure of this corps, in July 1916, only the 3 divisions remained in the Straits. And given the insufficient capacity of railway lines, the Turks' allies - the Germans and Austrians - couldn’t have been able to transfer considerable forces to the area earlier than 2 weeks after the start of the landing operation of the Russian army.
It is worth remembering that when, in April 1915, combat-ready Ottoman troops occupied fortified positions on Gallipoli, the British were able to land 5 of their divisions - and 9 months with varying success to conduct hostilities. In the summer of 1916, when the combat capability of the Turkish armed forces was reduced, 5 selective divisions of the victorious Caucasian army more than likely would have been able to successfully land on the Bosphorus coast and capture the Bosphorus region. In the 1916 campaign, Turkey was the weakest link in the camp of the German bloc - the Bosporus Expedition and the Brusilov offensive with a high degree of probability launched a chain reaction of the collapse of the hostile coalition.
But ... during the First World War, Turkey was considered a minor adversary in Russia. The lack of political will of the state leadership and high-mindedness of the high command are the main reasons for the lack of implementation of the Bosporus operation.
Unable to resolve the issue of the Straits in 1943 - 1947.
When 22. 06. 1941 in Turkey received information about the German attack on the USSR, a general holiday began in the country: people were jubilant, congratulating each other on a joyous event, and, as the source noted, all Turkish hearts, remembering 5 centuries of history, fought in unison with Nazi victories.
However, Turkey did not intend to enter the war - declaring its neutrality on the same day. But at the same time, the Turkish government demonstrated open hostility towards the USSR, taking an explicit pro-German position.
The attempts of the Turkish ruling circles to provoke a split in our country were revealed. In particular, in the course of communication with German partners in August 1941, the Turkish ambassador declared the sufferings of “Soviet border tribes of Turkic origin,” noting the possibility of carrying on pro-German propaganda through them. It was also said about the possibility of uniting the Caucasian peoples of the USSR into an independent buffer state, and a Turkic state should have been created east of the Caspian Sea. 10. 10. 1942, the head of the Turkish government, said that his country would not be indifferent to the fate of 40 of millions of Soviet citizens of Turkic origin. It was actually about the "Turkic Nazism" - it is therefore not surprising that the "neutrality" of Turkey was pro-German.
Turkey’s aspiration to provoke the Soviet Union was observed, moreover, in one of the most difficult periods for it. So, in the summer of 1942, Turkish troops began maneuvers on the Caucasian border. The number of groups was increased - the Turkish army, a potential opponent of the Red Army, delaying the Soviet troops, helped by this Germany. And the Transcaucasian Front was forced to cover both the Black Sea coast and the Soviet-Turkish border.
Obvious direct analogy with Japan. The latter also conducted in 1941-1945. on the border "maneuvers", otgryvala Soviet troops and arranged provocations. The only difference was that Turkey was not an official ally of the Third Reich. But the question arises: why was the Turkish policy not recognized as actually hostile to the Soviet Union, and why was it not dealt with as with Japan? After all, the necessary forces and even the principled support of the allies in that period were in place. And the strategic impact of such a step would be significant.
Subsequently, the Soviet military and political leadership had to regret that in 1943 - 1945. a new Caucasian front did not arise, which could once and for all remove the entire complex of Russian-Turkish contradictions.
As the victorious powers of the anti-Hitler coalition approached the next German bloc in the highest echelon, the USSR authorities increased their sentiment in favor of a “cardinal solution” to the problem of the Straits, which led to the formulation of requirements for Turkey to give the USSR the opportunity to create military bases in the region.
Formal grounds for conflict with Turkey were absent from the USSR, especially since the States with 1925 had a prolonged Treaty of Friendship and Neutrality. The last time it was extended to 10 is the 1935-year term (it expired on 07. 09. 1945). But 19. 03. 1945, six months before the expiration of the contract, the Soviet Union, as it was provided for in the text of the agreement, notified Turkey that there would be no renewal. The Turks regarded this as the beginning of a confrontation.
The auspicious moment was again missed - the Great Patriotic War ended, and along with it the foreign political conjuncture favorable for our country also disappeared. And now the whole coalition — the United States, Great Britain, France and Turkey — opposed the Soviet Union’s desire to reconsider the status of the Straits.
Former allies did not support the Soviet Union at the Potsdam Conference, failed to regulate the desired status of the Straits for the USSR in the course of bilateral Russian-Turkish contacts - Soviet demarches only pushed Turkey into the arms of the Americans and, not least, caused the doctrine of G. in 1947. Truman, and later, in 1952, for Turkey’s entry into NATO.
Control over the Straits is control over Europe, and therefore over the whole world. Therefore, it is not surprising that during the period of the First World War the “allies” of Russia did everything to prevent the Turkish Straits from being under Russian control. The agreement of the British and French (given in the difficult conditions of the development of the maritime phase of the Dardanelles operation in the spring of 1915) to include the Straits and Constantinople into Russia was in fact a “bill of exchange” that still needed to be cashed.
When, after the end of the Second World War, the USSR made its demands to Turkey, now, in the conditions of the beginning of the Cold War between former allies, the Americans and the British took a similar position - not accepting the strengthening of the military and political influence of the USSR in the Straits zone.
The historian A. A. Kersnovsky was right when he wrote that Russia considered that the keys to the Bosphorus are located in Berlin, but in fact it turned out that the keys to Berlin were on the Bosphorus. As historical experience has shown, the defeat of Germany and its allies did not give control of the Straits to the USSR. Being in Berlin, the Bosphorus did not fall that way. Thus, it should be stated that the war with Germany (and the Second and First World Wars) was not a means of resolving the Bosphorus issue, but only a favorable military-political circumstance that could and should have been used to seize this geopolitical region.
Russia repeatedly missed the opportunity to solve the “Eastern” (Turkish) issue and the problem of the Turkish Straits - the corresponding chances were missed under Peter I, Catherine II and Alexander II.
The indecision of Emperor Nicholas II, who failed to cement the multidirectional approaches of the Stavka and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, did not allow the Bosporus operation.
The miscalculations of the military-political leadership of the USSR allowed Turkey, in fact an ally of Nazi Germany, to leave the Second World War safely and safely. Not used as intended in 1943-45. the Soviet Union, in turn, missed its chance to resolve the issue of the Turkish Straits.
Obviously, the control over the Straits and Constantinople should belong to Russia and Greece - which is perfectly understood by our Balkan partners. Being present three years ago, in September 2014, at the conference on the island of Lemnos, we had a chance to hear in the report of one of the Greek participants of the event the hope of dividing Turkey - and it was stated that the issue of the Straits depends on how the process goes and resolves the issue. the formation of a new center of power in Europe. But Greece, as the speaker emphasized, is able to resolve this issue only with Great Russia.
Of course, from the wishes to their implementation in life - the distance of a huge scale. Our state twice missed the opportunity to solve the problem of the strategic Turkish Straits - in 1915-16. and in 1943-45. And what will happen tomorrow - time will tell.
- Oleynikov Alexey