The Russian Caucasus in World War I, 1914-1918

World War I broke out in September 1914, and on October 29th 1914, the Ottoman Empire declared war; the Russian Caucasus region became war theatre. From here Russian forces went on the offensive, penetrating deep into eastern Anatolia, aided by the local Armenian (christian) population who regarded the Russians as liberators.
In March 1916 the tide turned, the Ottoman forces regaining the ground and in spring 1918 invading Russian (Armenian/Georgian) territory, occupying the KARS region. Fighting had also spread into Persian Azerbaijan. The Caucasus region and adjacent Persia has an important logistical function, as the Entente supplied Russia across Persia.

In March 1917 the February Revolution had lead to the installation of a parliamentary government; the October Revolution (Nov.) had opened a phase of violent civil war.
On May 26th 1918, GEORGIA declared independence; (Russian) AZERBAIJAN followed on May 28th, (Russian) ARMENIA on May 29th. German forces occupied Georgia in June. An Entente expedition occupied BAKU, Azerbaijan's capital with it's important oil industry, on August 12th 1918, only to be expelled by German-Turkish forces on September 15th. The ARMISTICE requested by the Ottoman Empire on October 30th and by Germany on November 11th ended World War I in the Caucasus region. The KARS region of hitherto Russian Armenia remained under Turkish administration and eventually became integrated in the Turkish Republic.

DOCUMENTS Maps : The Caucasus, 1878-1917, The Caucasus, 1917-1918 from Atlas of Ethnic Conflicts, Ideological Clashes and Border Disputes

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 4th 2004

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