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Kenda Venters

Dr. Mark Cichock

Russian Foreign Policy


Russian and the Transcaucasian

Through out the years the Foreign Policy between the Caucasian regions, particularly the Transcaucasian sector, has both expanded positively and negatively. As these regions where brought into the Soviet Union the experienced Communism. Later with the fall of the USSR we see the introduction of a more democratic government by Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. All three face problems with maintaining relations with Russia.

To fully understand each province the bygone times between Russia and the Transcaucasian area must be analyzed. Russia and the Transcaucasian territories each with their own history have not only dated back to the early 1800's. Since then each region has carried with them their own story of the rise and fall of Russia. The three provinces that make up the Transcaucasian sector are Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. At one point they joined together in the Transcaucasian Federation, but then later they where divided into separate republics in the Soviet Union. All three being occupied by the Red Troops all for their own reason, some was seeking Russia's protection, and others were fighting against the Russian invasion.

Russia and Azerbaijan history of confecting relations have dated back to 1828. Azerbaijan has always been greatly divided between Russia and the Qajars. This feud breams from the Treaty of Turkmanchai which bounden Iran to relinquish is sovereignty. This allowed Russia to overtake control of the Aras River in 1820's. Azerbaijan's location has been the main focus because other countries could capitalize from their accessible trade routes. These bargaining routes through out Azerbaijan connect Europe to Central Asia. The accessible pathways ran near east and on the shore of the Caspian Sea. These routes made its domain relatively profitable to other nations. On February 10, 1828 Russia conceded control over part of Azerbaijan to Persia. This was done by the signing of the Treaty of Turkmenchay. Present frontiers were then able to be established due to the treaty extinguishing the last indigenous dynasties of inhabitant Azerbaijani khans.

In 1917, with the fall of the Russian Empire, Azerbaijan made an attempt to claim its independence. January of 1920 the Allies gave acknowledgment of Azerbaijans right of self-determination. It wasn't until later with the occupation of the Soviet Union's Red Army, Azerbaijans freedom was abolished. It was at this time that the first Democratic Azerbaijan Republic disintegrated, leaving the future of Azerbaijan in the hands of the Soviet Union.

At the other side of this three side conjunction we have Russia and Armenia. The Russian and Armenian histories of relations have been conflicting as well. Due to the Bolshevik Revolution, it is during World War I that the "Russian people became discouraged with their injuries and the loss of life they sustained." This left Russia at the edge of total destruction and primed for a revolution. At this point Eastern Armenia saw an opportunity and seized its sovereignty on May 28, 1918. Although Woodrow Wilson rallied for the United States to grant Armenia's independence, the Senate vetoed the mandate by the president. With no other allies Armenia then turned to Turkey for help. It was on August 10 1918 that the Treaty of Sevres was signed by Turkey and Armenia, this giving Armenia acknowledgment as a liberated state due to the treaty. The newly elected leader of the Turkish Government, Mustafa Kemal, beginning in the summer of 1919 to countermand all treaties signed with Armenia.

After Armenia was attacked by the Turks in September of 1920 two of Armenian cities were under the control of the Turks. To prevent further Turkish attack, Communist seized Armenia reinforcing their encroachment with Russian troops. This did little to ensure Armenians protection from the Turks. After Armenia became a full member in the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin relinquished Armenian provinces of Nakhidievan and Aersakh to help soothe relations with Mustafa Kemal. Stalin did so without any realization that these areas of Armenia were an overwhelmingly Armenian population.

Unlike Armenia which sought Russia for protection we see the opposite in Georgia's story. The interactions between Russia and Georgia's history of relations date back to 1801. It was during these early years that Georgia was "annexed by Russia." Georgians were never really able to succumb to Russia strong hold on them and relentlessly fought for their independence in the years that followed the Russian take over. This battle that the Georgians waged proved fruitful in May of 1918 when Georgia appropriated much of its sovereignty. To insure the Georgian government would maintain its independence from Russia and to prohibit an inhabitation by the Ottoman Turks, Georgia called on Germany to supply them with much needed military troops for there homeland defense.

As a new republic Georgia faced many serious as well as minuscule problems. In an attempt to solve some of Georgia's domestic disarray a land reform was set in place by Prime Minister Zhordania, which broke apart land to be disseminated among the poor. Also Russia's revolution produced substantial numbers of refugees poring over into Georgia's newly formed territory. Georgia did not have the resources to deal with its blossoming population and was unable to feed the Russians that were looking towards Georgia as a safe haven. Another problems that plagued Georgia was inflation of their economy and the fact that they "lacked trading partners" equipped to help them deal with the complications that the Georgians where now approaching at rampant speed.

On November 11th 1918 Georgia's protector, Germany, requested an Armistice with the Allied forces. This being done Georgia was now left defenseless. The Soviet Union saw this as an opportunity to reclaim its lost province and on February 25th 1921 the Red Army marched onto Georgia's countryside proclaiming the Georgian people part of the Soviet Republic.

The merging of Georgia with Azerbaijan and Armenia happened in March of 1922, thus forming what is known as the Transcaucasian Federation of Soviet Republics. The commonwealth of these states was introduced in 1917. It was at this time that Russia was undergoing a revolution to overthrow the Russian Empire. As the Caucasus abdicated they formed the Transcaucasian Federation in an endeavor to create their own federal state.

This attempt by the Transcaucasian Federation was thwarted by conflicting national interests.



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