Motives for War
The war was largely of Russia's own making.
There were three main motives for a war:
- To pursue an expansionist policy in the Far East, to help regain Russia's great power status.
- To obtain an all year round ice-free port.
- To distract attention from Russia's domestic troubles by rallying nationalism
Plehe reported to have said: "We need a small, victorious war to avert a revolution", although research suggests this is misrepresented.
Witte was eager for Russia's economic expansion and was aware this meant war with Japan.
The Path to War
Russia looked upon Japan as an inferior nation.
They expected an easy victory.
In 1904, the Russian government rejected Japanese proposals for the settlement of their claims for Korea, provoking the Japanese to attack the Russian fleet in Port Arthur.
War had begun!
Events of the War
The events showed that Russia had underestimated Japan.
Japan was better prepared and equiped.
Jan 1904: Japanese attacked Port Arthur
Jan 1904: Port Arthur fell to the Japanese
Feb 1905: Japanese seize Mukden
May 1905: Japanese fleet defeats Russian baltic fleet at Tsushima (this fleet had taken eight months to get to its destination!)
Aug 1905: Treaty of Portsmouth, Russia forced to withdraw her forces and accept Japanese control of Korea and Port Arthur
Reasons for Russia's Defeat
Underestimation of Japanese strength
Inadequate military planning
Japan's readiness, skill and spirit
Materials and men had to be transported a long distance
Senior officers were appointed upon social status not ability
Contribution to 1905 Revolutions
120, 000 dead
Population affected with lack of food etc.
Dismal performance i.e. they lost!