Chapter 2: From War to War 1904-1914

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The Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905 

Motives for going into war with Japan in 1904:

  • Pursue and expansionist policy
  • Obtain an ice-free port
  • Distract attention from Russia's domestic troubles

Plehve, Interior Minister: ''We need a small, victorious war to avert a revolution.'' 

The path to war: 

  • Russian's looked to Japan as an inferior nation, they expected an easy victory
  • Territorial disputes between Russia and Japan over Korea and Manchuria were lon-standing
  • 1904, the Russian Gov rejected Japanese proposals for the settlement of the two countries' rival claims to Korea
  • The Japanese opened hostilities by attacking the Russian fleet in Port Arthur

The course of the conflict: 

  • The Japanese army and navy were far better prepared and equipped than the Russian forces
  • The Japanese won a series of striking victories over the Russians
  • Port Arthur fell in January 1905
  • The Russian Baltic fleet took eight months to reach its destination, only to be blown out of the water on its arrival by the Japanese fleet at Tsushima in May 1905
  • Such defeats obliged the Tsarist Government to make peace
  • Treaty of Portsmouth: Russia agreed to withdraw her remaining forces from Manchuria and accepted Japanese control of Korea and Port Arthur

Why Russia was defeated:

  • Military commanders had not prepared effectively
  • They did not understand the enemy they were fighting nor the territory 
  • Unimaginative strategy allowed the Japanese to outmanouvere the Russian forces
  • The distance between the motherland and the troops was to large, which made it impossible to provide adequate reinforcements and supplies
  • Incompetence of the Government 

The 1905 Revolution: 

The Reason for Revolution: 

  • Incompetent Tsarist regime
  • Prisons overflowing with convicts innocent of any crime
  • Extensive censorship, denying freedom of religion and political expression 
  • Government squeezed money from the people through heavy taxation

The course of events / Bloody Sunday:

  • 22nd January, Father Georgy Gapon, attempted to lead a peaceful march of workers and their families to the winter palace in St Petersburg
  • The marchers intention was to present a loyal petition to the Tsar begging him to use his royal authoirty to relieve their desperate conditions
  • The march induced panic in the police forces 
  • The marchers were fired on and charged by cavalry 
  • 200 marchers may have been killed 
  • Altough Nicholas II was not present, Bloody Sunday gravely damaged the traditional image of the Tsar

Disorder Spreads:

  • As a result there was widespread disorder around Russia 
  • The situation was made worse by Russia's humiliation in the war against Japan
  • Plehve, the Interior Minsiter, was assasinated by SR terrorists
  • Large private estates in the country were attacked
  • Large properties were seized by the peasants 
  • Georgia declared itself an independent state
  • Poles demanded autonomy 
  • Jews pressed for equal rights

The Potemkin Mutiny: 

  • June 1905, the crew of the battleship 'Prince Potemkin' mutinied whilst at sea
  • The incident began as a protest by the sailors at having to eat rotting food and drink foul water
  • Peter Vakulenchuk was elected as the sailors representative to complain to the captain
  • Vakilenchuk was shot immediately
  • In


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