3 March 1918
Mirnye Peregovory, p. 229

    The workers' and peasants' Government of the Russian Republic, compelled to accept the German ultimatum because, although Russia had announced the cessation of war and the demobilization of its army, the German troops reopened the attack, announced its acceptance of the ultimatum on 24 February, and has delegated us to sign these terms, which are being imposed on us by force.

    The previous negotiations at Brest-Litovsk between Russia, on the one hand, and Germany and its allies on the other, made it sufficiently clear that the so-called 'peace by agreement' is in fact a strictly imperialist and annexationist peace. The Brest-Litovsk terms have now been made considerably worse.

    The peace which is now being signed at Brest-Litovsk is not a peace based on the voluntary agreement of the peoples of Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. It is a peace dictated at the point of the sword. It is a peace which revolutionary Russia is compelled to accept with its teeth clenched. It is a peace which, under the pretext of 'liberating' the Russian frontier areas, in fact turns them into German provinces and deprives them of their right of free self-determination-a right recognized by the workers' and peasants' Government of revolutionary Russia. This is a peace which, under the pretext of establishing order, gives military support in the occupied territories to the oppressing classes against the working classes and helps them to reimpose the yoke thrown off by the Russian revolution. This is a peace which gives the land back to the landlords and drives the workers back into bondage to the factory owners and manufacturers. This is a peace which for a long time will impose upon the masses of Russia, in a still more burdensome form, the old trade agreement Of 1904 concluded in the interest of the German agrarians; in addition, it secures to the German and Austro-Hungarian bourgeoisie compensation for all their losses and the payment of interest on the Tsarist Government bonds which revolutionary Russia had cancelled. Finally, as if to underline still more strongly the glaring class nature of the German armed pressure, the German ultimatum attempts to close the mouth of the Russian revolution, forbidding any agitation directed against the Governments of the Quadruple Alliance and against their military authorities.

    But that is not all. Still under the same pretext of establishing order, Germany is occupying by force of arms regions with a purely Russian population, is establishing there a regime of military occupation, and is restoring the pre-revolutionary order. In the Ukraine and in Finland, Germany demands non-interference of revolutionary Russia and at the same time actively assists the counter-revolutionary forces against the revolutionary workers and peasants. In the Caucasus i plainly violating the conditions of the ultimatum Of 2 1 February drawn up by the German Government itself, and ignoring the real wishes of the population of the districts of Ardahan, Kars, and Batum, Germany detaches these areas for the benefit of Turkey, whose armies had never conquered them. This flagrant and forcible seizure of important strategic points can have only one object: to prepare a new attack on Russia and to defend capitalist interests against the workers' and peasants' revolution; that is the end served by the German offensive of 18 February, without the seven days' warning stipulated in the armistice agreement concluded between Russia and the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance on 15 December 1917

    This offensive was not halted in spite of the acceptance by the Council of People's Commissars of the conditions laid down in the German ultimatum of 21 February. This offensive was not halted in spite of the resumption of negotiations at Brest-Litovsk and the official protest lodged by the Russian delegation. In this way, all the peace terms proposed by Germany and its allies are completely transformed and become an ultimatum to Russia backed by the threat of the use of direct military force by the authors of the peace treaty.

    But in the present circumstances Russia has no choice. By the demobilization of its armies the Russian revolution has, as it were, handed over its fate to the German people. The Russian delegation at Brest-Litovsk openly declared at the time that no honest person would believe that a war against Russia could still be a defensive war. Germany has gone over to the offensive; German militarism has now succeeded in moving its troops against the working and peasant masses of the Russian Socialist Republic on the pretext of restoring order, but in reality with the object of strangling the Russian workers' and peasants' revolution in the interests of world imperialism. The German proletariat is not as yet well enough prepared to stop the attack. We do not doubt for a moment that this triumph of imperialism and militarism over the international proletarian revolution will prove to be temporary and ephemeral. Meanwhile, the Soviet Government of the Russian Republic, left to its own forces, is unable to resist the armed offensive of German imperialism and, in order to save revolutionary Russia, is forced to accept the terms offered.

    We are authorized by our Government to sign the peace treaty. Forced, in spite of our protest, to conduct negotiations in the wholly exceptional circumstances created by the continuation of hostilities which encounter no resistance from the Russian side, we can n longer expose the Russian workers and peasants who have refused to carry on the war to further slaughter. We declare openly, before the workers, peasants, and soldiers of Russia and Germany, before the toiling and exploited classes of the whole world, that we are forced to accept the ultimatum dictated by a party at present stronger than ourselves, and that we are signing the peace treaty presented to us as an ultimatum immediately, refusing to discuss it. In the present circumstances the workers' and peasants' Government of the Russian Republic is not in a position to resist the armed attack of German imperialism and, in order to save the revolution, is forced to accept the terms presented to them.

    We, the authorized representatives of our Government, are prepared to sign the peace treaty immediately, waiving all discussion as completely useless in the given circumstances.

Documents on Soviet Foreign Policy

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