Vladimir Putin, speaking last week in the Federation Council and answering questions, said that the cause of Russia's defeat in the First World War was “national betrayal” and imputed him to the “then leadership of the country”, i.e. the Bolsheviks who went to the conclusion Brest Peace. True, he immediately clarified to balance: “They carried this cross upon themselves. They have redeemed their guilt before the country during the Second World War, the Great Patriotic War - this is true. ”
At the same time, he expressed the thesis that as a result Russia lost the war to the already losing side, as a result of which “huge territories, huge interests of the country were given, put incomprehensibly for what interests, for the sake of party interests of only one group that wanted to stabilize its position in power” . “How the Second World War differs from the First, in fact, is not clear. There is really no difference, ”“ it was primarily about the geopolitical interests of the countries involved in the conflict ”- here are a few quotes from his speech in the Federation Council.
Putin vain said all this. In vain he accused the then leadership of betrayal. If only because the territorial losses of Russia as a result of the Brest peace were much less than its territorial losses as a result of Belovezhya. And the government accused of national betrayal returned most of its losses within 9 months after the conclusion of peace, which itself honestly described as “bawdy”, and this world denounced. And the governments of Russia that destroyed the union state to usurp power in their republics, and after two decades have returned almost nothing, even while Putin himself was in power.
In vain, he declared that there was no difference between the First and Second World Wars, if only because during the first one, no one ever talked about the enslavement of the peoples of Russia and the destruction of its statehood. And in the course of the second, it was about this, and also about the physical destruction of its population.
And in vain he reduced the essence of the war in the justifying intonation to the geopolitical interests of the warring powers. If only because the mere existence of geopolitical interests, which are always there, does not justify war. The United States in Vietnam also fought for their "geopolitical interests." And Iraq has been invaded in the name of its "geopolitical interests." And Yugoslavia was bombed in the name of their own. And Libya. And they killed Hussein, Milosevic and Gaddafi just for the sake of their "geopolitical interests." But it seems that neither Putin nor any other sane person on this basis justifies them. And the United States is creating its missile defense system against Russia in order to protect its “geopolitical interests” ...
Geopolitical interests can be very different. And, for that matter, some of them turn out to be the geopolitical interests of some classes and other classes of the same country.
The interests in the name of which Russia fought in World War I were different and very controversial, and most of the country was not inspired. And even the most attractive of them — the establishment of control over the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles — was by no means worth the losses incurred by Russia during the war itself. There is still a dispute over the loss figures, but the minimum known estimate (General Directorate General Staff of the Russian Army from October 3 1917) is 750 000 killed and missing, 3,2 million wounded, 2 million prisoners. According to modern data, the demographic losses of Russia are 2,2544 million, the sanitary losses are 3,749 million and the losses of prisoners are 3,3439 million people.
The Serbian question, which has become a formal pretext for war, is also rather ambiguous, both with respect to stories and the objectives of the Sarajevo assassination (the murdered Ferdinand was considered one of the most illustrious political leaders of Austria-Hungary), and on the main point of discrepancy: Austria demanded from Serbia a controversial thing - to participate in the investigation of the murder on the territory of Serbia itself (which, by the way, today's Russia regarding the participation of Polish investigators in the investigation after the death of Kaczynski near Smolensk). Moreover, in response to Russia's demand, Austria agreed to give it guarantees of respect for Serbian sovereignty.
If we talk about national treachery, then under it you should rather understand how the Russian government then embroiled in a world war (all more or less responsible leaders of the empire, beginning with Stolypin, were categorically against it) and the way it was conducted. The Russian army in combat training was at that time the best army in the world, but it was absolutely adventuristly sent into battle and condemned to defeat either by thoughtless and mostly illiterate decisions of the high command, or by constant undersupply. The army sometimes fought heroically, but it was constantly betrayed by the then royal power. As a result, by the winter of 1916-17. in the army there were one and a half million deserters, the officers were unsafe to appear in the trenches, and the troops did not rise to the attack on any orders. It would be possible to talk about many things here, but in 1917, the Bolsheviks only expressed the general desire of the people to get out of the war, and national betrayal was to keep Russia in the war, not out of it. The army did not want to fight and, most likely, would not have sold out in February 1918, but by the fall of 1917, if the same Bolsheviks did not hold it in positions with the promise of an early peace and thesis “Fight for peace, keep the front!” .
By February, the choice was simple: either withdraw from the war at any cost, or remain in the war, but with a spontaneously diverging army. By the way, calling for the defeat of their own government during the war, the Bolsheviks never called for the victory of Germany and the defeat of Russia. Their call suggested that armies should turn weapon both against the Russian government and against the governments of Germany and other countries. And having gone to the Treaty of Brest, it was they who, in fact, predicted the defeat of Germany. On the one hand, they refused to fight for the interests of France and England, who many times had previously exploited the military prowess of Russia, but always tried to steal the victory from her. On the other hand, they forced the warring parties to fight among themselves, providing Russia with a respite. On the third, they showed Germany and her army that the war could be ended, they let in the "smell of peace", after which she could not fight.
The Brest Peace was in fact a national salvation.
Peace conditions could be less severe. And the main thing that was lost on them is Ukraine. But if Putin’s advisors were more erudite, they would know that the nationalist Central Rada seized power, declaring independence in the summer of 1917, made peace with Germany before Russia concluded it, which at the time caused Ukraine’s loss. The Bolsheviks tried to overthrow her in January 1918, but then they did not have the strength. And on January 27 (February 9) 1918, a separate agreement was signed with Germany and Austria-Hungary, which assumed the occupation of Ukraine. Soviet Russia signed the Brest World only 3 March 1918 of the year, being largely in a stalemate. The Brest negotiations themselves are a separate and more than dramatic story. But the agreement to the demands of Germany was a brilliant political gambit: the Bolsheviks clearly understood that this world would be short-lived, that by giving Germany peace in the East, they actually deprive her army of the will to fight in the West.
It is not true that by the beginning of 1918, Germany was already the losing party. Her troops were on the territory of the countries that fought with her, and they were unable to force them to retreat. The German army was much closer to Petrograd, Paris and London than the Russian army (as well as the French and English) to Berlin.
Germany began to turn into a losing side, precisely being in a situation of half-world-half-war after Brest. And having placed the army in Ukraine and other occupied territories, it condemned itself to the torment and burden of supporting unpopular and incapable regimes.
The unwillingness of the German soldiers to fight led to the success of the last offensive of the Entente, the uprising did not want to fight fleet in Kiel, to the fall of the monarchy, the fall of the monarchy to the end of the war.
Having concluded the Brest Peace gambit with Germany, Soviet Russia deprived Germany of its army.
Here is the assessment of Richard Pipes, hardly attributable to anyone among the followers of the Bolsheviks: “Having shrewdly went to the humiliating world that gave him time to win, and then collapsed under the weight of his own weight, Lenin deserved wide confidence of the Bolsheviks. When 13 November 1918, they broke the Brest Peace, after which Germany capitulated to the Western allies, Lenin's authority was lifted up in the Bolshevik movement to an unprecedented height. Nothing better served his reputation as a person who did not make political mistakes; never again did he have to threaten to resign in order to insist on his own. "
Virtually everything that Russia lost in the Brest Peace, she returned six months later and by the end of the civil war. Yes, she did not return Poland, but she would have returned her in 1920 if all her former allies had not opposed her, preventing her from doing so.
Yes, national betrayal was. They were drawing Russia into the war. They were her incompetent knowledge. They were the recent destruction of the USSR. They were President Medvedev’s refusal from the results of the victory of the Russian army over Saakashvili’s militants in 2008. This should be called a national betrayal.
Indeed, Russia was not at Versailles among the winning countries. Only it is hardly worth upsetting that she did not become an accomplice of the robbery and a robber country.
And before making such categorical assessments to the government, which signed the Brest peace, but immediately eliminated the losses caused by it, it is necessary to begin with to at least eliminate the consequences of the Belovezhsky treachery and restore the territorial integrity of Russia.