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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May 2015
987
The Netherlands
Nothing in the decision making process of France, Russia, or Serbia was influenced by the prospect of territorial gains.
You're right about the role played in the decision making process in France and Serbia, but I'm not so sure about Russia. Also, even if they did not originally enter the war motivated by their territorial war aims, France, Russia and Serbia had clear territorial war aims from the start of the war. Germany and Austria-Hungary had no such thing.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,264
Iowa USA
You're right about the role played in the decision making process in France and Serbia, but I'm not so sure about Russia. Also, even if they did not originally enter the war motivated by their territorial war aims, France, Russia and Serbia had clear territorial war aims from the start of the war. Germany and Austria-Hungary had no such thing.
Can you please help me understand the distinction between 'enter the war motivated by..' and 'had clear territorial war aims'?

You must have a clear distinction in mind, but I fear it could be clearer based on the post above?
 
May 2015
987
The Netherlands
Can you please help me understand the distinction between 'enter the war motivated by..' and 'had clear territorial war aims'?

You must have a clear distinction in mind, but I fear it could be clearer based on the post above?
France, Russia and Serbia had territorial demands on their neighbours dating back to before the war and they fought in World War I to carry out their desired terrorial expansionism. However, said territorial demands didn't play a role in the decision making process of France and Serbia to go to war, because the war was technically forced upon them. Russia helped instigate the war and its territorial ambitions played a role every step of the way. On the side of Central Powers, Bulgaria and the Ottomans had territorial ambitions, whereas Germany and Austria-Hungary did not.

I hope that helps.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,264
Iowa USA
France, Russia and Serbia had territorial demands on their neighbours dating back to before the war and they fought in World War I to carry out their desired terrorial expansionism. However, said territorial demands didn't play a role in the decision making process of France and Serbia to go to war, because the war was technically forced upon them. Russia helped instigate the war and its territorial ambitions played a role every step of the way. On the side of Central Powers, Bulgaria and the Ottomans had territorial ambitions, whereas Germany and Austria-Hungary did not.

I hope that helps.
Thank you yes.

Repeating what I typed earlier today: this topic often has posters speaking past each other, since there is controversy about both the proximate events around the July crisis and also controversy over the Great Power competition of the final years before 1914.

With respect, I feel there is plenty of evidence that Austria-Hungary was not finished with the program of gaining territory on the Southern frontier.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,973
"pre war idea were what determined the reasons...."

Exactly, that is where I am coming from. However... I suggest that you could put more effort in asking yourself about the sources that you rely on in the formation of your perspective on the "ultimate causes" rather than "proximate causes".

So... 1914 is a "fun topic" for we amateurs because the victors of the war made sure that many important papers were destroyed. Historians have more access to the Central Powers' memos and diplomatic notes than we do (in particular regarding Viviani and Poincare's visit to St. Petersburg in July) the Entente. Now that means when we have these threads there is contention on BOTH the proximate causes of the Russian mobilization and the German declaration of War of 1 September and also on the "ultimate causes", rooted in (equally in my opinion) The Eastern Question and German Weltpolitik.

Futurist has an inclination to ask the forum questions that QUICKLY get to the ultimate issues.

By contrast, your inclination is to get details correct. It is a difference in perspective.

Futurist put the general question in this thread: "Was territorial ambition one of the ultimate reasons war broke out -- per the infamous Bismark quote -- in the Balkans?"

Would your response to a question stated in that fundamental way be closer to "qualified Yes" or would your answer be closer to "qualified" or "unqualified" No?

My answer, as someone that has spent WAY WAY too much of my spare time studying the Eastern Question, would be an unqualified "Yes".

Be good, Sir.
unqualified NO.

The causes of the First world war are black and white.

Austria Hungray started a Balkan war.
Germany started an European war.

Neither move was forced,. both Austra-Hungray and Germany refused any prposal to settle things peacefully. Austria Hungary wrote their note so it would be refused, Austria Hungaray had decided on war. Germnay knew this and took no atcion to stop it. Austria Hungary did not even read teh Serbian response before declaring war. When Russia Mobilised Germnay declareed war on France and Russia. I

Mobilization is not war. While it raises tensiomns certianly jumping straight to war was Germany's decision.

So I dont thing what the French said in St Petersberg or thr Why Russia Mobilized as being particularity liable to change things.

How can the Eastern Question be the cause of anything? Ottoman Turkey was not part of the war. It seems impossible for the Eastern question to have been a driver of Russian thinking in July 1914.

Austria Hungary wanted to 'deal with' Serbia but I donl;t think thay had a definite plan to annexation. Conrad wanted to utter defeat Serbia in war but I don;'t think he plans after that.
Germany wanted to crush France, but I dont' think had territorial ambitions pre war.
I don;t think Russia had plans on Austria Hungarian Territory pre war

therefore unqualified NO,
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
Russia was in many ways in a better position in 1916, but the Great Retreat and the losses of 1914 and 1915 must have been massive blow to the Russian morale.
Was this a greater blow to Russian morale than losing northeastern France in 1914 was to French morale?

Also, it is worth noting that very few East Slavic areas ended up under German occupation in 1915. Indeed, the core East Slavic areas largely remained under Russian rule. In contrast, I think that the territories that France lost in 1914 were largely French-majority ones.

Also, keep in mind that Germans went on the defensive in the East in late 1915 and only because they wanted to.
That was done because Germany didn't believe it could knock Russia out of the war even with another offensive, correct?
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,264
Iowa USA
Maybe I assume that when I use a shorthand phrase that others take it to mean precisely what I take it to mean.

So, I guess when I used the phrase Eastern Question, I am accustomed to making connections to several specific events, and here I am referring to "concrete" factual historical events.

The emphasis on the word "demise" indicates that the shorthand phrase Eastern Question has quite separate, quite dissimilar meanings for us.

By the way, I appreciate the reply.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
In hindsight it would have been better to wait until after the Brusilov offensive, but the Russians didn't know there was going to be a Brusilov offensive after the tremendous losses in 1914 and 1915. It was certainly admirable that Russia kept fighting. Dropping out early in the war would have saved most of Russia's territory, but at the cost of its allies and its standing in Europe. The final straw for me would be the February Revolution; continuing the war after that was plain stupid.
The February Revolution itself wasn't the problem. Rather, the problem was the weakening of military discipline by both the Petrograd Soviet (with its Order No. 1) and the Bolsheviks (with their spreading of defeatist propaganda among Russia's troops) after the February Revolution.

Things were actually looking up for Russia after the February Revolution with the U.S. entry into World War I. Had Russia been able to keep order in its own house, its future situation would have looked relatively bright. Sure, there would have been a lot of additional casualties in World War I, but the U.S. entry into the war would have virtually guaranteed an Entente victory in the war sooner or later.

The fact that Russia could not keep order in its own house is why I think the Russian Provisional Government should have sought a separate peace with Germany. Heck, it could have even blamed it on the Petrograd Soviet and the Bolsheviks for weakening both Russian military discipline and Russian military morale.

There's never a guarantee in international relations, but what reason could Germany possibly have for attacking Russia after the Great War ended? It would undoubtedly lead to a new multi-front war, as France and Britain wouldn't remain idle. Germany also didn't have any territorial designs on Russia or pose a threat before the war.
If France is already defeated, it wouldn't be able (or be particularly willing, for that matter) to reenter the war against Germany if Germany invades Russia. Also, without France, I strongly doubt that Britain would actually be able to do much--and this is assuming that Britain would actually have the political will to do something about this (which certainly isn't guaranteed after a Russian betrayal).

Still, Germany would be well-aware of the fact that Russia did it a huge favor by making a separate peace with it. I suspect that this fact could discourage many Germans from supporting a new war against Russia--at least in the near future. Granted, Russia's demographics would ensure that it would be a long-term rival and threat to Germany, but the fact that Russia saved Germany's skin during WWI by dropping out of the war is surely going to be warmly and fondly remembered by many Germans.

I suppose that, after the war, a lot might depend on whether Russia will eventually try to reassert its influence in Europe and the Middle East or whether Russia will aim to seek expansion elsewhere--such as in Asia. Germany wouldn't want Russia meddling in either Europe or the Ottoman Empire, but I doubt that Germany would care much about what Russia would do in other parts of the world.