The Batum Subsystem of International Relations: Problems of Formation and Inter-Imperial Competition, June-August 1918

 
PIIS013038640021032-3-1
DOI10.31857/S013038640021032-3
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
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 4
Pages5-28
Abstract

The implementation of the Treaty of Batum on 4 June 1918 signalled the hegemony of the Ottoman Empire in the macro-region between the Black and Caspian Seas. From the very first days it provoked opposition from other imperial actors, including Germany, an ally of Turkey. In June–July 1918, all the contenders for control of the post-imperial spaces of the former Ottoman Empire were forced to combine coercive and diplomatic means to strengthen their positions, recruiting allies and amassing forces. Due to a number of objective reasons, none of the great powers had the necessary resources to achieve their goals, facing a shortage of both military means and the necessary technical conditions. Their interest in the transformation of the region was extremely high: Germany and Soviet Russia sought to incorporate Transcaucasia into the space of the larger Brest system, while the Entente and the Central Powers were still engaged in a decisive campaign of the Great War, and the Young Turks saw their only chance of implementing their nationalist projects. The hostages of these aspirations were the newly emerged limitrophe states, which were in various stages of formation, on both sides of the Caucasus range. The German mission to Georgia, the Ottoman assistance to Azerbaijan and the Mountainous Republic, and Armenia's hopes for assistance from Britain, Soviet Russia or Austria-Hungary all played a decisive role in their fate. The policy of the great powers was complicated by problems of coalition interaction and systemic trends towards the formation of a coherent geopolitical space following the victory of the Central Powers over the disintegrating Russian Empire and Romania. The peace conference in Constantinople failed to resolve the problem, and the Entente's efforts to re-establish the Eastern Front in parts of the former Russian Empire were growing. Interaction and competition between various actors led to the active integration of the macro-region into the logic of the Great War, so that attempts to diplomatically formalise or revise the Batum subsystem were soon replaced by military confrontation between all the imperial claimants around Baku. The article draws on the diplomatic archives of the former Central Powers to reconstruct the formation of a new subsystem of international relations.

KeywordsBatum subsystem, Brest system, Great War, campaign of 1918, limitrophe states, inter-imperial rivalry, Ostpolitik, Enver Pasha, Kress von Kressenstein, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan
Received11.05.2022
Publication date01.09.2022
Number of characters80830
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