The Landing at Murmansk

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The measures taken by the People’s Commissariat for Military Affairs to deal with the landing by our former allies at Murmansk are completely in accordance with the instructions I received from the Council of People’s Commissars and, in particular, from the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs.

Any attempt made by our former allies to transform the White Sea coast into a base for their operations will meet with an uncompromising rebuff from us.

As is known, I have dispatched the armed forces needed to safeguard the Northern coast against any encroachments whatsoever.

The force landed by our ex-allies is numerically insignificant, and more symbolic than effective. The Anglo-French imperialists apparently count on establishing in the North a pole of attraction for all sorts of adventurers, mercenaries, counter-revolutionaries and traitors. To this end, our ex-allies have long since been bribing certain groups of the White-Sea coast inhabitants, and, in particular, the Murmansk Soviet[1] and some of the military and naval representatives in the area.

At the same time, an attempt was made by French and other officers to move to the North substantial units of Czechoslovak, Serbian, French and Russian White Guards, especially airmen, so as to form a powerful occupying force at Murmansk, and later at Archangel.

Two groups of prisoners-of-war, consisting of 100 Serbs and 200 Italians, did actually succeed in getting through to Archangel, with a certain quantity of weapons. A most searching inquiry is now under way to establish the routes by which these groups traveled and who it was that helped them.

In accordance with my orders, these two groups have, of course, already been disarmed and placed under arrest.

The central food-supply administration received an application from the French military mission for an issue of foodstuffs for a thousand men who were allegedly being sent through Murmansk to France. This is, as we know, the formula by means of which adventurers, mercenaries and crooks are being mobilized for the occupying forces. Officially, they are being sent ‘to France’, but in reality they are destined to raise a revolt on Russia soil and to seize our Northern coast.

A few days ago a group such as this, consisting of a few dozen Czechoslovak and Polish White Guards and French officers, was detained in Moscow and put in prison. The measures taken provide some guarantee that no further sudden movement and concentration towards the North by similar groups can occur. Those Russian traitors who treat as normal the barefaced arbitrariness committed by foreigners in our North, and provide help to it, will be dealt with in short order.

The picture before us is now extremely instructive for any honest observer. Exactly the same groups and classes of the population show themselves Anglophil or Germanophil in orientation, depending on whose help is nearest to hand. The Cadets and Right SRs go along with the Japanese in the Far East, in the North with the British and French, in the Ukraine and on the Don, and at Pskov and Dvinsk, with the Germans, and the Cadet who makes an agreement with Skoropadsky in no way blames as unpatriotic the Cadet who is ready to sell Russia to the Anglo-French stock-exchange speculators, while the latter fully ‘understands’ his colleague in the Ukraine.

Krasnov operates according to a German orientation. His brother Dutov leans towards the Czechoslovaks and the British. The third man, Semyonov, has hired himself out to Japan. All three of them are fulfilling the instructions of the Russian bourgeoisie. This is their patriotism, their national dignity, their national honor.

In conclusion, I should just like to draw attention to the specific activity of the French military mission in Russia during the revolution. It is hard to conceive anything more limited, short-sighted and helpless than a French petty-bourgeois clad in a General’s uniform or a diplomat’s frock-coat. Above all, this petty-bourgeois is ignorant of geography and incapable of finding his feet in an unfamiliar setting. As a result, the activity of France’s agents in Russia was entirely directed against the elementary interests of France. I shall not deal in detail with the actions of the French diplomatic and military representatives, but will mention only the most important of these.

France raised up the Romanians against us[2] – and the Romanians ended by transporting the German troops into New Russia.

The French raised up the Rada against us, helping it with money and military leadership – and the Rada ended by allying itself with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

The French supported Kornilov, Kaledin and Krasnov – and Krasnov is working with Skoropadsky.

It was the French who pressed hardest for Japanese intervention. But one would need to be really as innocent as Tartarin [Tartarin is a character in stories by Alphonse Daudet who is not so much innocent as disposed, Walter-Mitty-like, to believe his own tall stories about his adventures.] to suppose that Japan wants to get involved in an armed conflict with Germany, and not merely to grab the Russian provinces of the Far East.

This was, and still is, the policy of all the agents of France on Russian territory. Mr. Clemenceau is nothing but an hysterical petty-bourgeois, a journalist who has not recovered from a state of chauvinist intoxication. He is in charge of the policy of unfortunate France, which has been drained of blood. Through his agents he is everywhere creating enemies for himself.

Let us actually try, in a calm way, to answer the question: what is it that the British and the French want? They want to involve Russia in the war, to create a new Eastern Front. The Soviet power does not want this. Hence the idea of overthrowing the Soviet power.

Let us assume for a moment that they succeed in their aim. Does any sensible person imagine that the working class and the revolutionary poor peasants, who undividedly follow us, would quietly and for a long time put up with the establishment of bourgeois government that made an alliance with Anglo French imperialism?

The moment that the Soviet power was overthrown would see the beginning of a civil war throughout the country on a scale twice and three times as great as before. There could be no question of Russia making any contribution to the war under these conditions.

A Russian bourgeois government would find itself under such pressure from the working people that any independent policy would be quite beyond its capacity. A government headed by Milyukov and Kerensky in Russia would be incomparable weaker even than Skoropadsky’s government in the Ukraine. And Skoropadsky’s government depends entirely on the support from foreign bayonets.

In the immediate future we shall extend this mobilization of certain age-groups to all parts of Russia.

I do not doubt that the All-Russia Congress of Soviets[3] will sanction the transition to compulsory military service for the sake of protecting the security of the Soviet Republic from imperialist onslaughts. And then the last word on all this will be spoken by the working class of Europe and of the world.

  1. Insignificant detachments of Allied troops (mostly British) occupied Murmansk already during the World War, to provide protection for the deliveries of artillery and ammunition from the Entente. After the October Revolution these detachments remained at Murman, and after the German landing in Finland in April 1918 they were reinforced, and the Allied command began negotiations with the Merman Territory Soviet for joint operations against the Germans. At the end of June, representatives of Britain, the USA and France, on the one hand, and the presidium of the Murman Territory Soviet, on the other, made a pact whereby the representatives of the Entente undertook to supply the territory and the military units there with all their requirements. They also undertook to supply the Murman Territory Soviet with financial aid, food and manufactured goods. On its part, the Territory Soviet, betraying the Soviet power, was to refrain from hindering the organization of armed forces and the de facto occupation of the Territory by Allied troops. The military leader of the Territory Soviet, ex-General Zvegintsov, took part personally in these dealings with the Allies. As a result of this adventure, the Murman Territory was occupied by the troops of the Entente.
  2. At the end of February 1918, after our units had left the Romanian Front, the Romanians, at the insistence of the French mission, crossed the Dniester, occupied Rybnitsa [Rybnitsa is on the eastern bank of the Dniester. It is now included in the Moldavian SSR] and attempted to advance further so as to occupy the whole of Bessarabia and the area round Odessa. Our young Red Army units, led by Comrade Yegorov [The ‘Yegorov’ mentioned here is not Marshal A.I. Yegorov (1883-1939) but, probably, V.N. Yegorov (1869-1948) who subsequently (July 1919) took over command of the Southern Front from V.M. Gittis (with A.I. Yegorov as his second-in-command)], inflicted a heavy defeat on the Romanians, and forced them to withdraw behind the Dniester. Five days later, the Romanians allowed the Germans through. On March 13 the Germans occupied Odessa and continued to advance rapidly.
  3. The reference is to the Fifth All-Russia Congress of Soviets which was held between July 4 and 10 in Moscow.
    77. Note 77 is omitted in the source.