The Minister of War of the Russian Empire, Infantry General Alexei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin, foresaw the possibility of such a turn of events. And made the appropriate plan of action. The capacity of the single-track at that time (and even with the ferry crossing through Baikal) of the Trans-Siberian Railway was incomparably lower than the possibilities of Japanese maritime transport. But the mobilization reserve of Russia is several times larger than the Japanese. In the initial period of the war, Japan will be able to direct almost all the forces she has to the theater of military operations. It is necessary to stretch their communications with retreat, deplete them with constant clashes at defense-friendly frontiers, but at the same time not be fixed for a long time: the exposed position is under artillery fire, and the Japanese are also enough at first. By delaying the war in this way, one can accumulate one's own forces, superior to those of Japan: it has a lot less capacity to build. Thus, a series of retreats will sooner or later be replaced by a victorious onslaught.
The calculation was generally justified. The Russian troops, under the able guidance of Kuropatkin himself, retreated slowly and in perfect order. Each collision brought more sacrifices from the Japanese side than from the Russian: with other things being equal, attacking is more difficult than defending, and the offensive pays off only with the possibility of further extermination of the randomly running enemy or a breakthrough into its unprotected rear. Japan's economy, too, was depleting much faster than the Russian. In the end, an obvious Russian advantage really accumulated in the theater of military operations, which makes it possible to successfully crush the enemy.
Unfortunately, Kuropatkin’s plan was far from all.
First of all, not everywhere you can retreat far enough. Liaodong Peninsula is small. Already 1904.05.29 the Japanese occupied the trade port of Dalian without a fight (in Russian documents - Far). This, however, was preceded by the 1904.05.26 battle at Jinzhou: one Russian 12 regiment repulsed the attacks of three Japanese divisions and withdrew only after the left flank was shot by Japanese gunners - Russian losses amounted to about one and a half thousand, Japanese more than three times. But if the main forces were located not in Manchuria, but on Liaodong (for all the difficulties of their supply), then the battle would take place in qualitatively different conditions. Now, the Japanese were able to completely free to supply the troops besieging the military port of Lüshun (Port Arthur). Attempts to break from there 1-th Pacific squadron failed. In addition, the previous savings on the construction of fortifications around the port allowed the Japanese to capture some commanding heights relatively easily. 1905.01.02 Arthur, exhausted by the blockade and badly destroyed by siege weapons, capitulated.
With the fall of the main naval base in the Pacific, 2-I Pacific squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky and 3-I squadron of Rear-Admiral Nikolai Ivanovich Nebogatov who joined it, were forced to move to Vladivostok. The limited coal supply not only did not allow us to train in joint maneuvering on the vast route from the Baltic, but also limited the choice of paths at the final stage of the hike. The fleet moved the shortest route - through the strait east of the islands of Tsushima. 1905.05.27 Japanese fleet, possessing superiority in speed of most of its ships and good maneuvering experience, almost unchecked shot Russian battleships and cruisers with high-explosive shells, powerless against armor, but ruthlessly crippling poorly protected structures. 6 squadron battleships from 8, 1 coastal defense battleship from 3, all 3 armored cruisers died. Rozhestvensky was wounded shortly after the start of the battle. The next day nebogatov surrendered almost all the remaining forces: they clearly could not resist, and he no longer saw any sense in the glorious death.
And just the unwillingness to die was the main consequence of Kuropatkin’s strategy. The country got used to hear about the next retreats - even after the enemy stopped storming the fortified positions and retreated to the starting line. Public opinion has become convinced that such a series of failures can be generated only by the lack of talent of the leadership at all levels, and even direct betrayal at some key links. Not everyone wanted to fight for such a command and such a government.
The surrender of Arthur long before the obvious exhaustion of the possibilities for resistance was also unlikely to have been possible if there had been more than bad news from the hills of Manchuria. Hope for a de-blockade is the strongest incentive to find new ways of defense.
For the same reason, the superior Russian forces continued to retreat from the weakest Japanese. Even when Kuropatkina replaced the Infantry General Nikolai Petrovich Linevich as commander in the theater of military operations, who had previously successfully commanded the Russian part of the troops who had suppressed the uprising of the troops of harmony and justice — ihetuan — in China in 1901, they managed to gain a foothold at a constant line only after several more waste, and even the onset of even the speech was not. Neither the troops nor the public could believe in the possibility of defeating the formidable Japanese, although they were already at their last gasp: almost half of the pre-war army remained, the treasury was in debt like silk, except that the fleet was combat-ready.
Peace talks in US Portsmouth - the namesake of the then main British base fleet - culminated in September 1905.09.05, 1895 with the recognition of the defeat of Russia. The southern half of Sakhalin went to Japan. The lease of the Liaodong Peninsula by Russia from China was terminated, and he again - as in XNUMX - was leased from Japan. She received the right from Russia to manage Manchuria. Russia even paid an indemnity disguised as compensation for the costs of Japan's maintenance of Russian prisoners.
Now many are arguing what role their first provocateurs, like priest George Apollonovich Gapon (he created the Assembly of Russian factory workers of St. Petersburg, from quite good motives, but tried to make him the leading force in politics) played in the launch of the first Russian revolution, which - the then oligarchs who wanted to turn their wealth into an opportunity to command the country, and some English money (not only distributed directly, but also passed through Japan: it was Britain that developed Japan as stve anti-Russian instrument - not so much for conventional confrontation in the center of Asia, but for the Russian belief in the weakness and forced her to the entry into the Union and Britain). But few people remember the extent to which the then public opinion was demoralized by a hopeless series of military defeats. The same oligarchs put up with political powerlessness (and the Old Believers, who made up a large share of Russian rich people, also confessional oppression), while they were sure that the country as a whole was coming to success and needed only not to interfere with it. But when successes were replaced by a rather obvious failure, the desire to press or even replace the current leadership gained serious ground.
This is probably enough to assess the possible ingenious designs of the leadership of the Russian Federation regarding the course of events in Ukraine and the possibilities of the influence of the Russian Federation on these events.