J. V. Stalin

Concerning the Situation in the Caucasus

From the People's Commissariat for the Affairs of Nationalities

May 28, 1918

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

A report appeared in the Sunday newspapers stating that Baku and the Apsheron Peninsula had been captured by the British. It reads :

"May 24. The Odessa newspapers report that persons arriving from Baku say that three weeks ago motor-borne British troops entered the city, having penetrated to the Caucasus from Mesopotamia, via Persia. The detachment is a large one and evidently constitutes a vanguard. Some say that the British are establishing contact with Kornilov's detachments. Another newspaper reports that the British have occupied the Apsheron Peninsula and Baku and are advancing from there in the direction of Tiflis, Alexan-dropol, Sarikamysh, Kars and Erzerum."

The People's Commissariat for the Affairs of Nationalities deems it necessary to state that this provocative report, which moreover comes from the most mysterious sources, has no basis in fact. No British detachments have appeared, or could have appeared, in Baku, if only because the entire Baku Gubernia and all Eastern Transcaucasia are guarded by Soviet troops, who at the first signal are prepared to give battle to any external force, no matter in what guise it may appear. A report from Commissar Extraordinary Shaumyan of May 25 states that "Baku and the Baku area are not menaced at present from any quarter, if we do not count the Tatar landlords, who the other day executed a raid on Ajikabul and were hurled back far to the west by Soviet units"

As to the situation in South Transcaucasia, that area really is menaced; not on the part of the British, however, but on the part of the Turks, who are advancing along the Alexandropol-Djulfa railway towards Tabriz, "in order to repulse the British in North Persia."

Here is what Karchikyan, member of the Transcauca-sian Diet, reports in this connection on May 20 :

"On May 13, in Batum, Turkey presented a demand insisting that Turkish troops be allowed to advance into Persia by the Alexandropol-Djulfa railway, on the grounds that the British are pressing from the direction of Mosul and the Turks are under the necessity of occupying North Persia without delay. The Turks are backing their demand with force. On the morning of the 15th they began to bombard Alexandropol. Taken by surprise, our troops were unable to check the advance, and surrendered Alexan-dropol on the 16th. On the 17th, the Turks demanded free passage for their troops to Djulfa, promising not to molest the population. Otherwise, they threatened, they would force their way through. In view of the fact that the Alexandropol retreat had thrown our troops into complete disarray, and that in the event of resistance being offered the whole population of the Surmalinsky and Echmiadzinsky uyezds would be put to a terrible ordeal, we were compelled to agree to the Turks' demand. The inhabitants of the Alexandropol Uyezd have left to a man and have assembled in the Bambak-Lori area. Similarly the inhabitants of the Surmalinsky Uyezd. I have received news today that the inhabitants of the Akhalkalaki Uyezd have also abandoned their homes and are moving in the direction of Tsalka. The delegation in Batum lodged a protest against the ultimatum, but did not make it a casus belli and decided to continue the negotiations."

Reporting these facts, the People's Commissariat for the Affairs of Nationalities feels obliged to state that the purpose of the false reports from Odessa is evidently to vindicate the Turkish incursion, undertaken in defiance of all law with the object of seizing the Persian railway.

Pravda, No. 104, May 28, 1918