The Baku Crisis in the History of the Batum Subsystem: the Culmination of the Failed Imperial Projects, August–September 1918

 
PIIS013038640022417-6-1
DOI10.31857/S013038640022417-6
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 5
Pages104-119
Abstract

The rapidly developing Batum sub-system entered the phase of an open clash of imperial con-tenders for hegemony in the macro-region in August–September 1918. The scale and significance of the military operations took on a new dimension, with the issue of control over the largest oil-producing area at stake, and with broad prospects for further expansion by the Central Powers in the Middle East and Central Asia. Not only the supply of fuel to several great powers, but also the balance of power on the Ottoman fronts of the Great War as well as the fate of a number of state projects underpinning the reorganisation of the southern periphery of the former Russian Empire depended on the outcome of the struggle for Baku. The military and political capabilities of Germany, Soviet Russia, the British and Ottoman Empires were greatly hampered by a number of conflicts between forces operating in the region, as well as by a number of infrastructural and technical difficulties. This delayed the realisation of the imperial projects and was a catalyst for an acute crisis on other fronts in the Great War and the Russian Civil War. The gradual process of shaping German hegemony and incorporating the Batum sub-system into the wider structure of the Brest System was halted before the World War I had entered the stage of collapse of the Central Powers. The battle for Baku marked not only the potential for, but also the limits of possible inter-imperial compromises. The complexity of the diplomatic confrontation around the transformation of the Transcaucasus is often underestimated when viewed at a local level, but reference to archival sources and memoirs, including unpublished ones, enables many regional conflicts to be embedded in a global imperial context and reveals patterns in the military and political situation far beyond the macro-region in question.

Keywordsinternational relations, international systems, inter-imperial competition, collapse of empires, World War I, Civil War in the USSR, Ottoman Empire, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan
Received26.05.2022
Publication date17.11.2022
Number of characters46679
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