Should Russia have made a separate peace with Germany sometime between 1915 and 1917?

Should Russia have made a separate peace with Germany sometime between 1915 and 1917?

  • Yes

  • No


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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#1
I figure that this is a topic which deserves its own thread. Anyway, as you hopefully know, the Bolsheviks did ultimately end up making a separate peace with Germany in March 1918 after initially being resistant to this idea. In turn, this raises the question of whether Russia--either under the Tsar or under the Provisional Government--should have made a separate peace with Germany earlier--specifically sometime between 1915 and 1917.

As for my own thoughts on this, I voted Yes. Basically, Russia was unprepared for the upheaval of a long war and the effect that this would have on the internal situation in Russia and also was unwilling to aggressively crack down on the defeatists within its ranks (especially the Russian Provisional Government in regards to the Bolsheviks). Considering that Russia couldn't manage to deal with either the situation on its home front or its defeatists, the best thing for Russia to do in my honest opinion would have been to make a separate peace with Germany sometime between 1915 and 1917. While additional territorial gains would have been nice for Russia (especially in Ottoman Armenia and Trebizond), they were not vital for Russia. Indeed, Russia already had enough territory and would have continued to do so even if it would have lost Poland, Lithuania, Courland, Bessarabia, and Kars Oblast.

True, a separate peace on Russia's part sometime between 1915 and 1917 would have been seen as a betrayal by Russia's allies. However, succumbing to Bolshevism and then making a separate peace was also a betrayal to Russia's allies and left Russia in much worse shape than it would have been had it made peace earlier considering that the Bolshevik coup plunged Russia into an extremely devastating civil war. At least Russia would have likely avoided both the Bolshevik coup and a civil war had it made peace earlier. As for Russia's allies, even after a Russian betrayal, it is going to be a challenge for them to permanently ignore Russia due to Russia's extremely massive population. Indeed, even if Germany will end up completely defeating France and Britain on the Western Front after a Russian withdrawal from the war, Britain and France are probably still going to be inclined to support Russia to some extent due to the need to maintain a semblance of balance-of-power on the European continent. Also, while there would be a risk of Germany attacking Russia sometime after a German WWI victory on the Western Front, I suspect that the German people will not stand for such a move--especially if Russia isn't Bolshevik or trying to actively destabilize Germany. After all, the German people would probably already be tired enough of war as it is to seek new foreign adventures.

Basically, an early WWI withdrawal would have allowed Russia to put its own house in order--even at the expense of abandoning its allies. Personally, I think that escaping Bolshevism and an extremely brutal and deadly civil war is a price well-worth paying for this.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this?
 
Jun 2017
2,507
Connecticut
#2
From the Tsar's perspective yes and from an overall perspective yes too. The Central Powers would have very likely won and I think the product would have been a better world. Also there would be no Hitler or Barbarossa and given the huge demographic costs of WWII that are still being felt today any scenario where that doesn't happen is one that would be in Russia's best interest.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#3
From the Tsar's perspective yes and from an overall perspective yes too. The Central Powers would have very likely won and I think the product would have been a better world. Also there would be no Hitler or Barbarossa and given the huge demographic costs of WWII that are still being felt today any scenario where that doesn't happen is one that would be in Russia's best interest.
Also, possibly no break-up of the Russian lands. Specifically, Russia might lose a few peripheral areas (I mentioned them in my post above) but might be able to permanently keep the core of its territory (the East Slavic lands and Central Asia).
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#4
Did I post this thread in the wrong section of this forum? If so, can a mod or admin please move this thread to the correct section of this forum?
 
Jan 2014
989
Rus
#5
I think yes. But looks like Germans were very bad negotiable. I think they would demand concessions. Otherwise Russia was afraid pursue an independent policy without England and France...So finally they both lost.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,239
Dispargum
#6
With the benefit of hindsight, yes. But as things appeared at the time, there were reasons for Russia to be optimistic about the way the war was going. Shortages of weapons, supplies, and equipment from 1914 were almost eliminated. The success of the Brusilov Offensive in 1916 showed that the Russian Army was performing better in the field. The Murmansk Railroad was completed in 1917. That would have opened an ice free port to a WW1 version of lend lease. It would have been interesting to see how the Russian Army would have performed in 1917 and 1918 if the country's morale had not collapsed and given in to revolution.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#7
With the benefit of hindsight, yes. But as things appeared at the time, there were reasons for Russia to be optimistic about the way the war was going. Shortages of weapons, supplies, and equipment from 1914 were almost eliminated. The success of the Brusilov Offensive in 1916 showed that the Russian Army was performing better in the field. The Murmansk Railroad was completed in 1917. That would have opened an ice free port to a WW1 version of lend lease. It would have been interesting to see how the Russian Army would have performed in 1917 and 1918 if the country's morale had not collapsed and given in to revolution.
I agree that, without hindsight, it would have been difficult for the Russian Tsar to sell a separate peace to the Russian public for the reasons that you listed above. I also agree that, with the US entering the war in 1917, the Russian Provisional Government had ample reason to be optimistic about the war. Still, as soon as it became clear that military discipline was collapsing and that Russia wasn't going to restore it, Russia should have sought an exit from the war. Of course, it would have been better to indeed restore military discipline, but for some reason Russia's leaders don't appear to have managed to do this.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#8
I think yes. But looks like Germans were very bad negotiable. I think they would demand concessions. Otherwise Russia was afraid pursue an independent policy without England and France...So finally they both lost.
Poland, Lithuania, Courland, Bessarabia, and Kars Oblast are well worth giving up in exchange for peace. Heck, Russia should have never acquired Poland (specifically the Polish-majority parts of Poland) in the first place!
 
Jan 2014
989
Rus
#9
With the benefit of hindsight, yes. But as things appeared at the time, there were reasons for Russia to be optimistic about the way the war was going. Shortages of weapons, supplies, and equipment from 1914 were almost eliminated. The success of the Brusilov Offensive in 1916 showed that the Russian Army was performing better in the field. The Murmansk Railroad was completed in 1917. That would have opened an ice free port to a WW1 version of lend lease. It would have been interesting to see how the Russian Army would have performed in 1917 and 1918 if the country's morale had not collapsed and given in to revolution.
I think war would end to the begining of 1918. Germany would suffer some a hard defeats and it would understand that they have no way.

Only collapse of Russia gave hope for Germans and continued their resistance.
 
Jan 2014
989
Rus
#10
I agree that, without hindsight, it would have been difficult for the Russian Tsar to sell a separate peace to the Russian public for the reasons that you listed above. I also agree that, with the US entering the war in 1917, the Russian Provisional Government had ample reason to be optimistic about the war. Still, as soon as it became clear that military discipline was collapsing and that Russia wasn't going to restore it, Russia should have sought an exit from the war. Of course, it would have been better to indeed restore military discipline, but for some reason Russia's leaders don't appear to have managed to do this.
Only Russian elite wanted to continue war. Vast majority wanted to stop it. ( and That was one of main reasons why Lenin could seize power).