Bolshevik support

Bolshevik support

Turkish War of Independence

Bolshevik support
Semyon Budyonny ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1920 Jan 1 - 1922

Bolshevik support


The Soviet supply of gold and armaments to the Kemalists in 1920 to 1922 was a key factor in the latter's successful takeover of the Ottoman Empire, which had been defeated by the Triple Entente but won the Armenian campaign (1920) and the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).

Before the Amasya Circular, Mustafa Kemal met with a Bolshevik delegation headed by Colonel Semyon Budyonny. The Bolsheviks wanted to annex parts of the Caucasus, including the Democratic Republic of Armenia, which were formerly part of Tsarist Russia. They also saw a Turkish Republic as a buffer state or possibly a communist ally. Mustafa Kemal's declined to consider adopting communism until after an independent national was established. Having Bolshevik support was important for the national movement.

The first objective was the securing of arms from abroad. They obtained these primarily from Soviet Russia, Italy and France. These arms—especially the Soviet weapons—allowed the Turks to organise an effective army. The Treaties of Moscow and Kars (1921) arranged the border between Turkey and the Soviet-controlled Transcaucasian republics, while Russia itself was in a state of civil war in the period just before the establishment of the Soviet Union. In particular, Nakhchivan and Batumi were ceded to the future USSR. In return, the nationalists received support and gold. For the promised resources, the nationalists had to wait until the Battle of Sakarya (August–September 1921).

By providing financial and war materiel aid, the Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Lenin aimed to heat up the conflict between the Allies and the Turkish nationalists in order to prevent the participation of more Allied troops in the Russian Civil War. At the same time, the Bolsheviks attempted to export communist ideologies to Anatolia and supported individuals (for example: Mustafa Suphi and Ethem Nejat) who were pro-communism.

According to Soviet documents, Soviet financial and war material support between 1920 and 1922 amounted to: 39,000 rifles, 327 machine guns, 54 cannon, 63 million rifle bullets, 147,000 shells, 2 patrol boats, 200.6 kg of gold ingots and 10.7 million Turkish lira (which accounted for a twentieth of the Turkish budget during the war). Additionally the Soviets gave the Turkish nationalists 100,000 gold rubles to help build an orphanage and 20,000 lira to obtain printing house equipment and cinema equipment.

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