The Batum Subsystem as a Space of the Ottoman Hegemony in Transcaucasia in 1918

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of World History, RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Affiliation: Institute of World History, RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameNovaia i noveishaia istoriia
EditionIssue 3

The events and processes that unfolded in the post-imperial spaces during and after the Great War represent a very complex field of research, especially in regions with such a wide ethno-confessional variety as Transcaucasia (also known as the South Caucasus). The revival of ethno-national narratives of the period between 1914–1923 in the historiography of the countries of Eastern Europe and the Middle East projects modern conflicts into the past, distorting the analysis of the political landscape of the region. This makes it necessary to put forward new models for reconstructing the dynamics of transformation of post-imperial spaces, free from political conjuncture and schematic approaches of the nationally oriented historiographical tradition. An example of this is the system of international relations that has not yet attracted the attention of scholars, which was formed on the basis of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk concluded between the Central Powers and Soviet Russia, affecting also the South Caucasus. Its regional effect was marked by attempts to change, restructure, and even deform the system through the Treaty of Batum signed on June 4, 1918, between the Ottoman Empire and the three Transcaucasian states that emerged from the wreckage of the Russian Empire. The peculiarities of the negotiations and parallel military operations that took place in the region in February – May of 1918 not only revealed the existence of several territorial, political, and ethnic conflicts but also aggravated them. The end of the Great War on the Caucasian Front did not bring peace to the region: the struggle was not over, but transformed into a more complex, structurally multi-sided and multi-layered, struggle for hegemony in the Caucasus. Due to the collapse of the Russian Empire and the structural destabilisation of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the German and British Empires began to play an unprecedented role in it. This requires placing the events and processes in the Caucasus, which are still considered within the framework of civil wars and wars of independence in the region, in a transnational context, which allows assessing differently the role of both the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the Treaty of Batum in the history of all the countries affected by them. Considering the terms and consequences of these agreements outside the narratives of competing national historiographies makes it possible to clarify the logic of many geopolitical processes not only in 1914–1923 but also in the following decades.

KeywordsTranscaucasia, the First World War, the Caucasian Front, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Treaty of Batum, the Batum subsystem
Publication date01.05.2021
Number of characters55455
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