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Five Great Victories of Russian Geopoli

tik, From Napoleon to Crimea 2014

17:12 28.02.2016(updated 21:49 28.02.2016) Get short URL

Russian journalist, political analyst and historical commentator

Alexander Evdokimov discusses five genius political and military
decisions in Imperial Russian, Soviet and contemporary Russian
history. A note to the reader: you may find some of these

"Everyone is sick and tired of the denigration of the history of Russia and
the Soviet Union," Yevdokimov writes, in a
reflective article for independent Russian newspaper Svobodnaya
"So let us, at least for the scope of a single article, forget about the
mistakes and missed opportunities of our country's distant and recent
past," the journalist proposes. "Undoubtedly, controversial decisions
were made at various moments in Russian history, but there were
also undeniable victories, thanks to which Mother Russia lives on,
to the delight of friends and to the sorrow of its enemies."

Yevdokimov presents five crucial political and military decisions

from three centuries three epochs of Russian history, from the Russian
Empire to the Soviet Union to contemporary Russia, "which ensured the
country's salvation at its most critical momentswhen it seemed that
nothing could have saved the country, not even the heroism and
courage of its people." Readers might find some of Yevdokimov's
assessments surprising.

1812: Kutuzov's Withdrawal From Moscow

During the War With Napoleon
Mikhail Kutuzov, the Russian Field Marshal credited with ensuring
Russia's victory during the French invasion of Russia, "was forced to deal
with a very difficult dilemma after the draw in the Battle of Borodino. At
stake was the ancient, first-throned capital of the country Moscow, the
city of '40 times 40 churches', luxurious manor estates and merchant
courtyards," the journalist recalls.

"In case of withdrawal, all, or most of the city's enormous wealth,

accumulated over generations, would find itself in the hands of the
cruel-hearted enemy. And the enemy was no less ferocious than the
fascist invaders of a century later. It was simply unthinkable that the
heart of the country might be given over to the Bonapartist
extremists, who would likely create a barbaric massacre a real
ethnic cleansing. But there was no other alternative."

"Napoleon likely really believed that the Russian Army at the gates of the
Kremlin would prefer to fight to the last cannon ball. And indeed, our
soldiers were ready to go to their deaths for eternal glory, but a wise
Kutuzov persuaded his comrades-in-arms that in losing Moscow, Russia
itself would not be lost."

"At the famous meeting in Fili, he found himself in the minority,

although he likely hoped to split the responsibility with the other
generals. But not everyone could keep their composure when the fate
of their beloved motherland was at stake, so Mikhail Kutuzov,
as befits a truly great commander, took full responsibility on himself,
and the army withdrew, in order to win in the end."


Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Painting by Viktor Mazurovsky.

"All the horrors which Muscovites had to endure during the occupation
everything that was stolen or destroyed of Russia's national heritage
by the foreigners from Napoleon's 'European Union' all this was a
terrible price to pay for the country's salvation. Thousands of innocents
killed by the Bonapartist soldiers were factually sacrificed on the altar
of the coming victory."

"It's surprising," Yevdokimov quipped, "that no one ever blames Kutuzov

for these victims, while everyone and their grandmother blames Joseph
Stalin for the victims of the militias and the Podolsk cadets who came
to stand on the path of the invaders, this time in the 20th century. In his
time, Stalin made no less difficult a decision, which also turned out to be
correct to stop the enemy at any price. In 1941, Moscow was not only
the Soviet Union's largest city, and its cultural center, but also a critical
industrial and transport hub, and most importantly, the capital. Here,
Kutuzov's cunning was not an option."

1918: The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk With the

Kaiser's Germany
"Vladimir Lenin's signing of the Treaty [of Brest-Litovsk] was criticized
by everyone from ultra-communists like Nikolai Bukharin to the most
reactionary monarchists," the commentator recalled. "What is more,
at that moment, he appeared to have lost the Bolsheviks gains, won
following the October Revolution of 1917, because the Treaty became
the basis of an attempt by the Left SR party to stage a coup in the
Congress of Soviets. And it seemed as if everything that was possible
was done in order to push Germany to break the pact with Chekist SR
terrorist Yakov Blumkin killing Germany's ambassador Wilhelm Mirbach"
in 1918, shortly after the treaty's signing.

"But the plan failed; the coup against the Bolsheviks was quashed,
and soon, when revolution broke out in Germany, even the strongest
of Lenin's rationally-minded critics realized that what he had done
was a stroke of genius. Sacrificing so much, finding himself even more
a minority than Kutuzov, Lenin agreed to the most onerous
conditions, in order to save the young Soviet republic. Factually, the
anger in his direction from the counter-revolutionary elements
in those years came largely from the fact that he managed to save the
fragile new state from the Kaiser's boot."

Signing ceremony for the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, March 3, 1918.

"It's true, Germany's terms were more than merely harsh, but it was the
Czar and the provisional government which had brought the country
to the situation," Yevdokimov notes. "At the same times, the Bolsheviks'
predecessors had left them with a completely demoralized, half-
destroyed army; to continue the war in such a situation would have been

1939: The Non-Aggression Pact With Nazi

"The Great Patriotic War was won even before its tragic beginning
on August 23, 1939, when Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Third Reich's
Foreign Minister, made a fatal mistake, persuading Soviet leaders to sign
a non-aggression pact," Yevdokimov writes.
"In addition to delaying the outbreak of hostilities between the
world's two leading military powers, the pact allowed for the Soviet
Union's western border to be pushed as far to the west as possible."


Untold Story of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: Why USSR Inked Non-

Aggression Treaty With Hitler

"Otherwise," the historical commentator suggests, "Nazi tanks would

have found themselves outside Minsk and 120 km from Leningrad even
before the outbreak of war, with Finnish troops also dangerously close
to the northern city, and Romanian forces at the gates of Odessa."
"In such a situation, the miraculous failure of Hitler's blitzkrieg might not
have occurred. It was precisely the distance of the fatherland's western
borders from Moscow that prevented the fascists from breaking
through to the Soviet capital in the warmer months. And while the
German tanks were breaking through the lines of defense and got stuck
in impassable roads, the Soviet leadership was able to evacuate a huge
portion of the country's important industries, together with its

"All of this was ensured by Ribbentrop's signature in 1939; without his

help it would have been much more difficult to carry out the
evacuation two years later. With the stroke of a pen, Ribbentrop did
the Soviet Union another important service alienating the Reich's
main overseas ally militarist Japan. It was in August 1939 that
Tokyo last got its nose bloodied by Soviet and Mongolian troops in the
legendary Battle of Khalkhin Gol, where General Giorgi Zhukov's star
came to shine; six years later, Zhukov would sign a new agreement
with Nazi Germany on its unconditional surrender."


Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, far right, Soviet leader

Joseph Stalin, second from right, and German Foreign Minister Joachim
von Ribbentrop, third from right, posing after signing the German-Soviet
non-aggression pact in Moscow, August 23, 1939.

Ultimately, Yevdokimov writes, the non-aggression pact "was not just a

success for Soviet diplomacy, but a triumph. Even the secret protocols
could not tarnish the Stalin leadershipHitler had made a colossal
blunder, giving his main enemy a chance, at least in part, to rearm."

1950s-1970s: Attaining Nuclear Parity With

the United States

Why Didn't Washington Dissolve NATO After Collapse of USSR?

"In the aftermath of a terrible, destructive, but ultimately victorious war,

what the Soviet people and the country's leadership wanted least of all
was to be involved in another war," the journalist recalled.
"Everyone would have been happy if all the state's resources could be
turned to restoring that which had been destroyed. But it so happened,
that if major assets were not devoted to the defense sector, a repeat
of June 22, 1941, only in a much more terrible form, would have been

"We can speak about this with more and more certainty, as more and
more documents from the US archives from the post-war years become
declassified. They indicate that Soviet fears about the possibility of new,
nuclear war were not at all unfounded. The debate among hawks in the
Pentagon concerned only the time frame and the number of bombs
which would be required to destroy our country and its allies."

"Recently," Yevdokimov recalled, "another list of cities in the Soviet

Union and other socialist countries to be targeted for atomic bombing
was released from the archives. The plans showed that not only
Moscow and Leningrad, but Berlin and Beijing as well, were set to be
wiped from the face of the earth. What's more, the purpose of the
strikes was stated openly: to destroy the population of the Soviet bloc;
everyone, including women, children and the elderly, was seen as an
enemy to be destroyed."


Released US Nuclear Plans Show Soviet Deterrent Saved Europe

"Today," the journalist suggests, "the leaders of the country that hatched
such plans have assured us that they no longer envision anything
like this, that their missile defense is aimed exclusively against North
Korean missiles, and that sanctions against Russia have merely a
disciplinary purpose. Stalin, and his successors, Nikita Khrushchev and
Leonid Brezhnev, did not quite believe in the peaceful intentions of our
American partners, and consciously participated in the arms race. The
arms race was very costly for our economy and our country, but there
was no alternative."

Soviet ICBMs rumbling down Red Square, November 7, 1990, marking

the final parade held in honor of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

2014: Crimea's Reunification With Russia

"It's not difficult to guess the disaster that Russian authorities prevented,
when they made their decision, based on the outcome of the Crimean
referendum of March 16, 2014. It's enough to watch the video chronicle
of what happened in Odessa, when opponents of Maidan's Brownshirts
were burned alive, or in the cities, towns and villages across Donetsk
and Lugansk, destroyed by Ukrainian aviation and artillery."

"As in the above-mentioned historical cases, neither the people

of Crimea, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of reunification
with Russia, nor Russian legislative and executive authorities, who
supported the decision, had any other choice. Otherwise, collisions
much more terrible than the ones we have witnessed in southeast
Ukraine could have occurred."

Russian President Vladimir Putin signing the bills which would return
Crimea to Russia. Moscow Kremlin, Friday, March 21, 2014.

"Moreover, in this case, there was a tremendous risk of a direct clash

between two brotherly countries Ukraine and Russia, provoking a
massacre, something that the Banderite militants openly threatened."

Ultimately, Yevdokimov argues, "were it not for outside interference

on the part of the West, which openly took the side of the Kiev junta,
everyone would already forgotten that Crimea and Sevastopol
soaked in the blood of Russian soldiers and sailors [over centuries],
had once again become an inalienable part of Mother Russia."

In the final analysis, the journalist notes, "we would all be happy if the
decisions of the type mentioned above were taken every time,
but unfortunately, that is unrealistic, since no one is immune
from making mistakes. Moreover, one might dream that the correct
decisions were not so complex, and that they could be taken in a stable
and calm environment, rather than a critical moment. Alas, that too is
something one can only dream of."

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