How the Red Army liberated Ukraine from the Petliurists

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How the Red Army liberated Ukraine from the Petliurists


Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government of Ukraine


At the Petliura Directory (Who are the Petliurists) there were competitors. On November 28, 1918, in the city of Sudzha (Kursk region), the Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government of Ukraine was created, headed by Georgy Pyatakov.



On November 29, a Manifesto was published on the overthrow of the power of Hetman Skoropadsky, on the restoration of Soviet power in Ukraine, and laws, orders, treaties, decrees and orders of the Hetman and the Central Rada of the UPR were declared illegal and unenforceable. The manifesto was signed by the Chairman of the Government G. Pyatakov and government members K. Voroshilov (People's Commissar of Internal Affairs), A. Sergeev ("Comrade Artyom", founder of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, People's Commissar of Military Affairs), E. Quiring (People's Commissar of National Economy and Finance), V. Zatonsky (People's Commissar of Education), Yu. Kotsyubinsky (member of the Revolutionary Military Council).

By the decree of the Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government of Ukraine dated November 30, the Ukrainian Soviet Army was created, led by V. Antonov-Ovseenko. It included the 1st Insurgent (Ukrainian) and 2nd Insurgent (Ukrainian) divisions and individual insurgent detachments, transformed into regular units and formations, as well as border guard units of the Bryansk, Lgov, Kursk and Ostrogozh regions. In total there are about 15 thousand bayonets and sabers.

The Directory tried to come to an agreement with the Bolsheviks. Even before the start of the uprising against Skoropadsky, an agreement was reached between the Ukrainian socialist parties and representatives of the Russian Bolsheviks: Soviet Russia recognized the Ukrainian People's Republic, and the UPR pledged to ensure the legal position of the communists in Ukraine and take a neutral position in Moscow's fight against external enemies.

However, Moscow quickly realized that there was no point in negotiating with the Directory. The Petliurists could not restore order in the country; on the contrary, they intensified the chaos. The Soviet government did not want to tolerate the chaos in Ukraine. The conditions for the offensive of the Soviet troops were the most favorable. Therefore, they preferred to forget about the previous secret agreements.


Fyodor Andreevich Sergeev (better known as “Comrade Artyom”, 1883–1921) was a Russian revolutionary, founder and head of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic, a close friend of Sergei Kirov and Joseph Stalin.

Liberation of the Left Bank


On December 12, Soviet troops launched an offensive, during which Klintsy, Novozybkov, Novgorod-Seversky, Glukhov, Shostka, Volchansk and Kupyansk were liberated. On December 21, the 2nd Ukrainian Division, after the departure of the Germans, occupied Belgorod, to which the capital of Soviet Ukraine was relocated. The 2nd Division develops an attack on Kharkov.

The Directory's troops as a whole were weak and loose: poor organization and discipline, low morale. More like gangs than a regular army. Rob and disembowel Jews and bourgeoisie, but do not shed blood for “independence”. Detachments of peasant rebels, disappointed by the policies of the Directory and attracted by the social slogans of the Soviet regime, went over en masse to the side of the Bolsheviks.

Typically, such units, which declared their Soviet orientation, in full force, led by their atamans, were, by mutual agreement, included in the army of Soviet Ukraine, receiving a number and an official name, with the subsequent bringing of the rebel units to the staff of the Red Army and the appointment of Bolshevik commissars . Therefore, the Reds quite easily liberated the entire Left Bank and most of Little Russia-Ukraine.

On January 1–2, 1919, an uprising of local workers began in Kharkov. At the same time, uprisings were launched against the Petliurists in the Kupyansky, Chuguevsky and Izyumsky districts of the Kharkov province. The Council of German Soldiers in Kharkov supported the uprising and issued an ultimatum to the command of the Directory troops - to withdraw all troops from the city within XNUMX hours. The Petliurists, led by Colonel Bolbochan, left the city.

On January 3, 1919, the 5th Glukhovsky Regiment of the 2nd Ukrainian Soviet Division and the Red Cossack Regiment were the first to enter liberated Kharkov. An armored detachment entered the city with them. By this time, Kharkov workers had captured the Balashovsky railway and Southern stations. A few days later, the Ukrainian Soviet government moved to Kharkov. Kharkov became the temporary capital of Ukraine.


Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the RSFSR Leon Trotsky walks around the Red Army troops at a review in Kharkov at the very end of May or beginning - mid-June 1919. On the far left is the future army commander and marshal Alexander Egorov.

On January 4, 1919, by decree of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, the Ukrainian Front (UF) was created on the basis of the troops of the Ukrainian Soviet Army. The UV included the Ukrainian Soviet Army, the 9th Infantry Division of the RSFSR and units of the RSFSR border guard. Antonov-Ovseenko was appointed commander of the troops. As part of the front, a Group of Forces of the Kyiv direction was formed with the task of capturing Chernigov, Kiev and Cherkassy and a Group of Forces of the Kharkov direction with the task of capturing Poltava and Lozova.

On January 12, the 2nd Bohunsky Regiment of the 1st Ukrainian Division under the command of Shchors liberated Chernigov. On January 18, the offensive against Kyiv began.

In January, the 2nd Ukrainian Division defeated the enemy in the area of ​​Lyubotin and Merefa and liberated the Sumy and Poltava regions. On January 10, units of the 2nd Division liberated Sumy, capturing large trophies. The attack on Poltava began. Petliurists were driven out of Poltava by local partisans. But on the night of January 18, the Petliurists, having received reinforcements, again broke into the city and carried out a pogrom and massacre of the local population.

On the evening of January 18, the 2nd brigade of the 2nd division approached the city. On January 19, Petliurists fled from the city in the direction of Kremenchug. On January 25, local partisans occupied Zenkov, Gadyach and Lokhvitsy. By the end of January, local rebels, with the help of Ukrainian Soviet troops, liberated almost the entire Poltava region.

In the twenties of January, Soviet units inflicted a severe defeat on the troops of the Directory near Lozovaya. The Kharkov – Lozovaya – Pavlograd – Chaplino – Gulyai-Pole railway line passed into the hands of the Red Army. There was a connection between Soviet troops and the partisans of the Yekaterinoslav region.

Back in December 1918, a general strike of workers in Ekaterinoslav began. In response, the Petliurists began to destroy the workers' committees. The Bolsheviks called on the workers to revolt. The workers were supported by the Makhnovists. After several days of fighting, the city was liberated from the Petliurists. However, the troops of the Directory, having brought up reinforcements - Petliura sent divisions of Galician Sich Riflemen, 4 infantry regiments, 2 armored trains, 6 armored cars, an air detachment and other units and subunits to Yekaterinoslav - regained the city.

The advancing Soviet units were half the size, but they were supported by local workers and peasants. On January 25–26, Dybenko’s special detachment liberated Ekaterinoslav (now the city of Dnepr, Soviet Dnepropetrovsk).

Contrary to the tales of independent Ukrainian writers, this was not an invasion of Muscovites. Most of the Red Army soldiers who fought with the Directory were local natives. So, in one week in Kharkov, 1 thousand people signed up for the 3st Proletarian Regiment.


“Sinezhupanniki”, inscription on the German report photo:
"In Ukraine. Training of the rank and file of the 1st Ukrainian Division", 1918.

Our Kiev!


On January 21, 1919, the Tarashchinsky regiment took Bakhmachi, where it captured large trophies. Petlyura tried to stop Soviet troops on the left bank of the Dnieper. He sent fresh forces to meet the Red Army, including a division of “blue zhupans” (the name is given by the color of the outer uniform - blue zhupan). In the area of ​​​​the village of Dimerki (25 km east of Kyiv), the Sinizhupanniks, led by Petliura himself, entered into battle with the Bogunsky and Tarashchinsky regiments. After a short battle, the Petliurists were defeated.

On January 20, a rebellion began in the Petlyura Korsun brigade stationed in the Chigirin area. The rebels, having occupied the junction stations of Cherkassy, ​​Bobrinskaya and Tsvetkovo on January 25, having established contact with local red partisans, began an offensive north along the Tsvetkovo-Fastov railway line, threatening Kyiv.

On January 21, 1919, the Bolsheviks created the Military Revolutionary Committee in the Uman district of the Kyiv province. He led the struggle of local partisans to restore Soviet power. The partisans drove out the Petliurites and held the city for more than a week.

At the beginning of February 1919, in the Kagarlyk area near Kiev, the Black Sea Division (about 6 thousand well-armed soldiers) joined the Red Army. In the Proskurov area, the 8th Petliura Regiment went over to the Red side, and in Mogilev-Podolsk - the 58th Regiment. The garrison in the city of Korostyshev rebelled. In January-February 1919, the Directory received almost daily telegrams about mutinies in the army.

The Petliura army was disintegrating and falling apart, just like the army of the Hetmanate before. Fermentation began even in the regiments of the Galician Sich Riflemen, who were the guards of the Directory. Councils of Soldiers' Deputies were created in the regiments; the soldiers demanded that they be sent home.

The Directory tried to stop the widespread desertion and the transfer of units to the side of the Red Army. Urgent measures were taken to ensure the financial situation of their army. On January 18, the law “On the additional allocation of land to the Cossacks of the UPR army” was issued. The soldiers were promised an allotment of 1–2 dessiatines of land, a free loan of 2 thousand rubles and an interest-bearing loan of 2 thousand rubles for a period of 5 years. Deserters were deprived of their allotment and loan. The troops were promised new uniforms, increased salaries, etc.

But it was too late, and it is impossible to defeat a big idea with material wealth. On the morning of February 5, 1919, units of the 1st Ukrainian Division solemnly entered Kyiv. The most distinguished in the Kyiv operation were the Tarashchansky regiment of Vasily Bozhenko and the Bohunsky regiment of Nikolai Shchors - the same commander who had

"The head is tied,
Blood on the sleeve
Trail bloody spreads
On damp grass."


Shchors was a regiment commander, a former tsarist staff captain, the soldiers loved him for his thoughtfulness and courage, the commanders loved him for his intelligence and resourcefulness. The Soviet units advancing on Kyiv managed to prevent the explosion of bridges across the Dnieper, which the Petliurists were preparing, and thus facilitate their crossing. To ensure complete success, the cavalry unit of the Bohunsky regiment, having crossed the ice near Chernobyl, went around the Petlyura positions from the north-west. On the morning of February 5, the Red Army entered the ancient Russian capital.

Soviet troops captured rich trophies: 18 thousand rifles, over 100 serviceable guns, more than 3 thousand machine guns, 7 million cartridges, more than 500 cars, a significant number of overcoats, a lot of sanitary, engineering and telegraph equipment. Thanks to the military warehouses captured from the Petliurites, the Reds equipped the soldiers of the 1st Ukrainian Soviet Division.

The Bogunsky and Tarashchansky regiments “for heroic and valiant actions against the enemies of workers and peasants” were awarded Red Banners, and commanders Shchors and Bozhenko “for skillful leadership and maintaining revolutionary discipline in the units entrusted to them” were awarded an honorary gold medal weapons. By order of the command, Shchors was appointed commandant of Kyiv.

The UPR directory fled from Kyiv to Vinnitsa. On March 9, Soviet troops reached the line Korosten - Zhitomir - Uman - Olviopol - Kherson - Melitopol. By the end of March 1919, the entire territory of “Petlyuria” (as residents called the remnants of the UPR) was limited to several cities and towns of Podolia and Volyn and the western sections of the railways. They were held by the remnants of the Galician Sich. Trains with Sich militants were greeted at stations with hooting: “In the carriage is the Directory, under the carriage is the territory.” The top of the Directory wandered from Vinnitsa to Kamenets-Podolsky, then to Rivne, later to Zdolbunovo, in July 1919 - again to Kamenets-Podolsky.

Only the offensive of Denikin’s white Volunteer Army in Ukraine saved the Petliurists from complete destruction.


Monument to Shchors in Kyiv (installed in 1954, dismantled in 2023)
4 comments
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  1. 0
    27 February 2024 09: 12
    History repeats itself. A hundred years ago in Ukraine the same bacchanalia took place as now. But our cause is just, victory will be ours.
  2. +1
    27 February 2024 16: 40
    Shchors - regiment commander, former tsarist staff captain

    where does this information come from?
  3. +6
    27 February 2024 20: 53
    I caught myself that I can’t watch films about the 90s, but I like those about the civil war. Now on NTV the film is shown in the GDR, I started watching it and stopped. It's simple. During the Civil War, the country was created, raised from the ashes, and in the 90s the country was destroyed. So for me everything is simple. Shchors is a hero, Petlyura is an enemy.
    1. -1
      28 February 2024 14: 07
      Good for you, everything is simple for you. I'm jealous