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Armenia and the Caucasus in the Genesis of the Soviet–Turkish Entente

  • Richard G. Hovannisian (a1)


On 26 April 1920, three days after the opening of the Grand National Assembly in Angora (Ankara), Mustafa Kemal addressed his first officially confirmed message to the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom) of Russia. Shortly thereafter, Bekir Sami Bey (Kundah), Turkish foreign minister, departed for negotiations in Mosocow.A draft treaty was initialed in August and delivered to Angora in September, and in March 1921 the governments of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic established formal bonds by concluding the Treaty of Moscow. During the few intervening months the small Caucasian Armenian republic, which had been created in May of 1918 and which had become the fulcrum of Armenian aspirations for an independent state encompassing both the Russian Armenian provinces and the contiguous Turkish Armenian provinces of eastern Anatolia, was crushed by the invasion of General Kazim Karabekir's XV Army Corps. The offensive, begun after attainment of a vague Soviet-Turkish understanding, not only overturned the Allied-imposed Treaty of Sévres, which had awarded to the Armenian republic much of the four eastern vilayets of Van, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, and Erzurum, but also restored to Turkish dominion the sanjaks of Kars and Ardahan, since 1878 parts of Russian or Eastern Armenia. What was more, Nationalist Turkey annexed the Surmalu district, embracing Mount Ararat, the historic symbol of the Armenian people.



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page 129 note 1 For details on the formation of the Armenian republic, see Hovannisian, Richard G., Armenia on the Road to Independence (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967). A useful survey of events in the Caucasus between 1917 and 1921 is made by Kazemzadeh, Firuz, The Struggle for Transcaucasia (Oxford, [1951]).

page 130 note 1 See, in particular, Foreign Office Archives (Public Record Office), Class 371, Files E/3/44 and E/262/ 44 (henceforth FO).

page 130 note 2 Scores of Armenian petitions, citing specific evidence of Bolshevik—Turkish intentions to combine over the Caucasus, were submitted to the Paris Peace Conference and Allied governments. See especially FO 371, File 512/58 for 1919 and File E/134/58 for 1920; FO 608, File 342/I; United States, The National Archives, Record Group 84, Tiflis Consulate, 1917–20, and Record Group 256, Files 184.9402, 184.01602, 861.00, 867.00, and 867B.00. Copies of much of this correspondence are preserved in the Archives of the Republic of Armenia Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, now housed in Boston, Massachusetts.

page 130 note 3 Lenin, V. I., Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (5th ed.; 55 vols.; Moscow, 19581965), vol. 31, pp. 347–8; vol. 32, p. 16.

page 131 note 1 Ministerstvo Inostrannykh Del SSSR, Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR (13 vols.; Moscow, 19571965), vol. 1, pp. 34–5. See also Degras, Jane, ed., Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy (3 vols.; London, New York and Toronto, 19511953), vol. 1, pp. 1517.

page 131 note 2 Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, vol. 1, pp. 74–5, 93–4. See also Hovannisian, Road to Independence, pp. 99–101; and for a current Soviet interpretation, Arzumanian, M. V., ‘Leninskii “Dekret o Turetskoi Armenii”’, Vestnik obshchestvennykh nauk [Erevan], no. I (1968), pp. 23–8.

page 131 note 3 Borian, B. A., Armeniia, mezhdunarodnaia diplomatiia i SSSR (2 vols.; Moscow and Leningrad, 19281929), vol. 2, pp. 175, 259–62, 263, 277, 305.

page 131 note 4 Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, vol. 1, pp. 121–4, 199–204. See also United States, Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918: Russia (3 vols.; Washington, D.C., 19311932), vol. I, pp. 443, 472.

page 131 note 5 Ludshuveit, E., ‘Konferentsiia levykh turetskikh sotsialistov v Moskve letom 1918 goda’, in Vostokovedcheskii sbornik, publ. of Akademiia Nauk Armianskoi SSR, Sektor Vostokovedeniia (Erevan, 1964), pp. 174–5.

page 132 note 1 Shamsutdinov, A. M., Natsional'no-osvoboditel'naia bor'ba v Turtsii, 1918–1923 gg. (Moscow, 1966), pp. 154–9;Ludshuveit, ‘Konferentsiia’, pp. 178–80.

page 132 note 2 Ludshuveit, ‘Konferentsiia’, p. 184.

page 132 note 3 Kornienko, R. P., Rabochee dvizhenie v Turtsii, 1918–1963 gg. (Moscow, 1965), pp. 1112;Sargsian, E. K., Velikaia Oktiabr'skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia i natsional'noosvoboditel'naia bor'ba v Turtsii (1918–1922) (Erevan, 1958), p. 46;Ludshuveit, ‘Konferentsiia’, pp. 184–91.

page 132 note 4 Harris, George S., The Origins of Communism in Turkey (Stanford, 1967), pp. 53–5;Novichev, A., ‘Antikrest'ianskaia politika kemalistov v 1919–1922 godakh’, Voprosy istorii (Sept. 1951), p. 60;Kheifets, A. N., Sovetskaia Rossiia i sopredel'nye strany Vostoka v gody grazhdanskoi voiny (1918–1920) (Moscow, 1964), pp. 87–8.

page 132 note 5 Shamsutdinov, Bor'ba v Turtsii, p. 50; Harris, Communism in Turkey, pp. 35–6.

page 132 note 6 Kornienko, Rabochee dvizhenie, pp. 16, 20–1, 25–6; Shamsutdinov, Bor'ba v Turtsii, pp. 151–3.

page 132 note 7 The reorganization was effected during the first congress of Muslim Communists of Russia, which denounced the ‘adventurism’ of those participants calling for a distinct Muslim party. See Institut Istorii AN Azerbaidzhanskoi SSR – Arkhivnoe Upravlenie pri Sovete Ministrov Azerbaidzhanskoi SSR, Bor'ba za pobedu Sovetskoi vlasti v Azerbaidzhane, 1918–1920: Dokumenty i materialy (Baku, 1967), pp. 19–25; also Pipes, Richard, The Formation of the Soviet Union (rev. ed.; Cambridge, Mass., 1964), p. 160.

page 133 note 1 Suphi's report to the founding congress of the Comintern is reprinted in Pervyi kongress Kominterna, mart 1919g., ed. E. Korotkov, B. Kun, and O. Piatnitskov (Moscow, 1933), pp. 244–6.

page 133 note 2 Pipes, Soviet Union, p. 161. See also Institut Istorii Partii pri TSK KP Azerbaidzhana–Filial Instituta Marksizma-Leninizma pri TSK KPSS, Istoriia Kommunisticheskoi partii Azerbaidzhana, vol. I (Baku, 1958), p. 300.

page 133 note 3 Izvestiia, 23 April 1919. See also Dennis, Alfred L. P., The Foreign Policies of Soviet Russia (New York, 1924), p. 217.

page 133 note 4 Zhizn' natsional'nostei, 18 May 1919. See also Bor'ba za pobedu Sovetskoi vlasti v Azerbaidzhane, pp. 135–7.

page 134 note 1 Zhizn' natsional'nostei, 5 October 1919. See also Shamsutdinov, Bor'ba v Turtsii, pp. 112–15.

page 134 note 2 Manifest, Richtlinien, Beschlüsse des Ersten Kongresses: Aufrufe und offene Schreiben des Exekutivkomitees bis zum Zweiten Kongress (Hamburg, 1920), pp. 81–99. See also Degras, Jane (ed.), The Communist International, 1919–1943: Documents (2 vols.; London, New York and Toronto, 19561960), vol. 1, pp. 54–8;zvestiia, 1 May 1919.

page 134 note 3 Izvestiia, 13 11 1919; Degras, Soviet Documents, vol. 1, pp. 164–7.

page 134 note 4 See, for example, Rustow, Dankwart A., ‘The Army and the Founding of the Turkish Republic’, World Politics, vol. 11 (07 1959), pp. 520–36, 541–3;DursunoĘlu, Cevat, Mullî mücadelede Erzurum (Ankara, 1946), pp. 58–9;Cruickshank, A. A., ‘The Young Turk Challenge in Postwar Turkey’, Middle East Journal, vol. 21 (Winter, 1968), pp. 1820. For interesting evaluations by European contemporaries of Kemal, see Nicol, E., Angora et la France (Paris, 1922), pp. 20–4;Pernot, Maurice, La question turque (Paris, 1923), pp. 44–7, 68–9, 99–100.

page 135 note 1 The Armenian press was quick to expose the activities of the Ittihadist leaders in Turkey. See, in addition to nearly every Armenian newspaper, the following Foreign Office files: E/272/44 and E/345/44 in class 371, and 385/1/17 and 385/1/25 in class 608.

page 135 note 2 US Archives, Record Group 256, 867.00/87/89/149.

page 135 note 3 See FO 371, file E/272/44. See also FO 608, file 385/1/8;Evans, Lawrence, United States Policy and the Partition of Turkey, 1914–1924 (Baltimore, [1965]), pp. 171–6 passim;Cebesoy, Ali Fuat, Mullî mücadele hâtiralari (Istanbul, 1953), pp. 138–40.

page 135 note 4 Cruickshank, ‘Young Turk Challenge’, p. 22; Cebesoy, Mullî mücadele, p. 42, and his Moskova hâtiralari (21/II/1920–2/6/1922) (Istanbul, 1955), pp. 60–1, 158–9, 231–2;Vratzian, Simon, Hayastane bolshevikian murji ev trkakan sali midjev (Beirut, 1953), pp. 20–8;Kiazim, Omer, Angora et Berlin (Paris, 1920), pp. 158–62.

page 135 note 5 Cebesoy, Millî mücadele, pp. 42–3. See also Söylemezoğlu, Galip Kemalî, Bastmtza gelenler: Yakin bir mazinin hâtiralari, Mondrosdan-Mudanyaya, 1918–1922 (Istanbul, 1939), pp. 166–7.

page 136 note 1 Ertürk, Hüsameddin, Iki devrin perde arkasi, comp. by Tansu, Samih Nafiz (Istanbul, 1964), pp. 343–4;Emre, Ahmet Cevat, Iki neslin tarihi: Mustafa Kemal neler yapti ([Istanbul], 1960), pp. 242–3. See also FO 608, File 385/1/25.

page 136 note 2 Much information about these bonds was revealed by testimony during the trials before the Courts of Independence at Ankara in 1926. A good deal of what then became public had been reported by British intelligence in 1919 and 1920, particularly in FO 371, Files E/3/44 and E/262/44. See also Cebesoy Moskova hâtzralari, pp. 48–60 passim, 158–65;Karabekir, Kâzim, Istiklâl Harbimiz (Istanbul, [1960]), pp. 786–7, 794–801 passim;Ertürk, Iki perde, pp. 538–49.

page 136 note 3 Pipes, Soviet Union, pp. 184–9; Novichev, ‘Politika kemalistov’, p. 60; Harris, Communism in Turkey, pp. 55–6.

page 136 note 4 See, for example, Kuznetsova, S. I., Ustanovlenie sovetsko-turetskikh otnoshenii (Moscow, 1961), p. 15;Kheifets, Sovetskaia Rossiia i Vostok, pp. 88–9; Mikh. Pavlovich [Vel'tman, M.], Revoliutsionnaia Turtsiia ([Moscow], 1921), p. 88.

page 136 note 5 Zhizn' natsional'nostei, 5 October 1919. See also Sargsian, Bor'ba v Turtsii, p. 47.

page 136 note 6 Kheifets, Sovetskaia Rossiia i Vostok, p. 93.

page 137 note 1 Tunaya, Tarik Z., Türkiyede siyasî partiler, 1859–1952 (Istanbul, 1952), pp. 520–3;Rustow, ‘Army’, p. 540; Cruickshank, ‘Young Turk Challenge’, pp. 18–19. See also Jäschke, Gotthard, ‘Neues zur russisch-türkischen Freundschaft von 1919–1939’, Die Welt des Islams, N.S., vol. 6, 3–4 (1961), p. 204.

page 137 note 2 Karabekir, Istiklâl Harbimiz, p. 74; Cebesoy, Millî mücadele, pp. 94–5.

page 137 note 3 Sapolyo, Enver Behnan, Kemal Atatürk ve millî mücadele tarihi (Istanbul, [1958]), p. 505;Ertürk, Iki perde, pp. 294, 324, 338–42, 431, 436.Biyiklioğlu, Tevfik, Atatürk Anadolu'da (1919–1921), vol. 1 (Ankara, 1959), p. 64, apparently rejects the evidence of a meeting between Kemal and Budenny, stating that Soviet Russia and Nationalist Turkey were unable to secure direct relations until 1920. George Harris has informed me that his most recent findings indicate that Budenny could not have been in Anatolia in May or June of 1919.

page 138 note 1 Ertürk, Iki perde, pp. 338–42.

page 138 note 2 Jäschke, ‘Freundschaft’, p. 204,Karabekir, Kâz'im, İstiklâl Harbimizin esaslari (Istanbul, 1951), pp. 5861.

page 138 note 3 Kandemir, Feridun, Millî mücadele baŔlangicinda Mustafa Kemal, arkadaŔlari ve karŔisindakiler (Istanbul, [1964]), pp. 74–5;Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 57–8.

page 138 note 4 Mustafa Kemal, Nutuk, publ. of Türk Devrim Tarihi Enstitüsü, vol. 3, Vesikalar (Istanbul, [1960]), p. 929;Gafurov, B. S., ‘Sovetskaia Rossiia i natsional'no-osvoboditel' naia bor'ba narodov Srednego i Blizhnego Vostoka’, Voprosy istorii, vol. 61 (10, 1967), p. 41.

page 138 note 5 Kandemir, Kemal, 88–9; Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, p. 78.

page 139 note 1 Kandemir, Kemal, 89. According to Yunus Nadi the Nationalist leaders attempted without success to send agents over an alternate route on motor launches to Odessa and the Crimean ports. See Aralov, S. I., Vospominaniia sovetskogo diplomata, 1922–1923 (Moscow, 1960), p. 20;Kuznetsova, Ustanovlenie Sovetsko-turetskikh otnoshenii, p. 14.

page 139 note 2 For the activities of these Turkish officers during 1919 and 1920, see FO 371, Files 512/58, 1015/58, E/I/58, E/134/58, E/262/44;Unüvar, Veysel, İlâl harbinde Bolşeviklerle sekiz ay 1920–1921 (Istanbul, 1948); and documents and accounts throughout Kâzim Karabekir's İstiklâl Harbimiz.

page 139 note 3 Extensive materials on Turkish influence in Azerbaijan are included in FO 371, Files E/3/44, E/262/44, and E/59/58, and in the memoirs of the Nationalist leaders.

page 139 note 4 For a résumé of Bolshevik activity in Baku and the Caucasus during the first part of 1919, see Hovannisian, Richard G., The Republic of Armenia, vol. 1 (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1971), pp. 398403.

page 140 note 1 FO 371, E12472/262/44, report for week ending 9 September 1919; Ertürk, Iki perde, 203–4; Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 185–8;Jäschke, Gotthard, ‘Beiträge zur Geschichte des Kampfes der Türkei umn ihre Unabhängigkeit’, Die Welt des Islams, N.S., vol. 5, 1–2 (1957), pp. 46–7.

page 140 note 2 Cebesoy, Moskova hâtzralari, pp. 134–5; Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 299–300.

page 140 note 3 FO 371, E 14638/345/44, report of 7 September 1920, part II; Kheifets, Sovetskaia Rossiia i Vostok, p. 100.

page 140 note 4 Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 358–9; Jäschke, ‘Freundschaft’, p. 219.

page 141 note 1 Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 413–14; FO 371, E 300/262/44, report for week ending 14 January 1920.

page 141 note 2 Kheifets, Sovetskaia Rossiia i Vostok, p. 96.

page 141 note 3 FO 371, E 262/262/44, report for week ending 22 January 1920, and E 1428/262/44, report for week ending 28 January 1920. In April the Tiflis Armenian newspaper Nor Ashkhatavor published an alleged Soviet–Turkish treaty that included terms strikingly similar to those agreed to by the Muvahhidin society.

page 141 note 4 FO 371, E 5353/262/44, report for week ending 29 April 1920.

page 141 note 5 FO 371, E 5738/12473/262/44, reports for weeks ending 6 May and 16 September 1920; Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 539–41.

page 142 note 1 Cebesoy, Moskova hâtiralari, p. 60; Harris, Communism in Turkey, p. 47.

page 142 note 2 Kheifets, Sovetskaia Rossiia i Vostok, pp. 96–100; Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 615–19, 628–30.

page 142 note 3 Atatürk'ün tamim, telgraf ve beyannameleri, publ. of Türk Inkilâp Tarihi Enstitüsü, vol. 5 (Ankara, 1964), pp. 294–7; Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 630–2.

page 142 note 4 Kheifets, Sovetskaia Rossiia i Vostok, p. 101. Chicherin's wire was intercepted by British intelligence and is included in FO 371, E 14638/345/44.

page 143 note 1 Karabekir, İistiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 491–7, 519–21 passim.

page 143 note 2 Ibid. pp. 523–4.

page 143 note 3 FO 371, E 1428/262/44, report for week ending 19 February 1920.

page 144 note 1 Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 465–7; FO 371, E 6151/262/44, report for week ending 13 May 1920, appendix L. The date given for the communiqué in Atatürk'ün tamim, pp. 180–4, is 5 February 1920.

page 144 note 2 FO 371, E 1428/262/44, appendix.

page 145 note 1 Karabekir, Esaslari, pp. 167–8, 178–80, 186.

page 145 note 2 FO 371, E4510/262/44, report for week ending 14 April 1920, appendix E.

page 146 note 1 Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 496–7, 609–18.

page 146 note 2 Ibid. pp. 632–4. The British 39th Infantry Brigade had occupied strategic points in Baku in November 1918 and the 27th Division, disembarking at Batum in December, had spread out along the Transcaucasian railway system and established headquarters in Tiflis. Because of strong domestic pressures and international considerations, most of these forces were withdrawn in the summer of 1919, and only at the last moment, with the entreaties of the United States government and the urgings of the British Foreign Office, did the Cabinet order the British command at Constantinople to hold Batum for a time longer. The Batum garrison, which always had to be taken into account in the formation of Turkish Nationalist policy and strategy, was finally withdrawn in July of 1920.

page 146 note 3 Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, pp. 647–8.

page 147 note 1 Bagirov, Iu. A., Iz istorii sovetsko-turetskikh otnoshenii v 1920–1922 gg. (Baku, 1965), p. 31.

page 147 note 2 Atatürk'ün tamim, pp. 304–5; Karabekir, İstiklâl Harbimiz, p. 667; Jäschke ‘Freundschaft’, p. 206. Not until the 1960s was the passage relating to action against Armenia published. The letter as previously shown in both Turkish and Soviet publications is in Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, II, 558. It is to the credit of British intelligence agents in 1920 that they secured a copy of the original document, including the proposed action on the Armenian front, and relayed the information to London in September of that year. See FO 371, E12472/262/44.

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