J. V. Stalin

The Situation in the Caucasus

Pravda Interview

November 30, 1920

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.

Comrade Stalin, who has just returned from an official mission in the South, in an interview with our correspondent on the situation in the Caucasus stated the following :

The Caucasus is of major significance to the revolution, not only because it is a source of raw materials, fuel and food, but also because it lies between Europe and Asia, in particular between Russia and Turkey, and because of its economically and strategically important roads (Batum-Baku, Batum-Tabriz, Batum-Tabriz-Erzerum).

This is fully appreciated by the Entente, which now holds Constantinople, the key to the Black Sea, and would like to retain the direct road to the East through Transcaucasia.

The whole question is, who in the end is going to be established in the Caucasus and have the use of its oil and the supremely important roads into the heart of Asia—the revolution or the Entente?

The liberation of Azerbaijan has done much to weaken the position of the Entente in the Caucasus. The struggle of Turkey against the Entente has had the same effect. Nevertheless, the Entente has not lost hope and is continuing to weave its intrigues in the Caucasus.

The conversion of Tiflis into a base of counter-revolutionary activity; the formation of bourgeois governments of Azerbaijan, Daghestan and the highlanders of the Terek region, with the money, of course, of the Entente and with the assistance of bourgeois Georgia; the coquetting with the Kemalists and the advocacy of a federation of Caucasian peoples as a Turkish protectorate; the continuous shuffling of Ministers instigated by the Entente in Persia and the flooding of that country with sepoys—all this and much else of the same sort shows that the old wolves of the Entente are not dozing. The activities of the Entente agents in this direction have undoubtedly been intensified to fever pitch since the defeat of Wrangel.

What are the chances of the Entente, and what are the chances of the revolution, in the Caucasus?

There is no doubt that in Daghestan and the Terek region, for instance, the chances of the Entente have shrunk to nil. The defeat of Wrangel and the proclamation of Soviet autonomy in Daghestan and the Terek region, coupled with the intense development of Soviet work in these regions, have strengthened the position of the Soviet Government in this area. It is no chance thing that people's congresses representing the millions of the Terek and Daghestan populations have solemnly vowed to fight for the Soviets in close alliance with the workers and peasants of Russia.

The fact that the Soviet Government proclaimed their autonomy not at a time of difficulty, but at a time when its armies had scored resounding victories, is duly appreciated by the highlanders as a sign of the Government's confidence in them. Highlanders have said to me in private conversation: "That which the government grants peoples in time of difficulty, under the pressure of momentary necessity, is insecure. Only those reforms and liberties are secure which are granted from above after the enemy has been vanquished, as the Soviet Government is doing now."

Just as slim are the chances of the Entente in Azerbaijan, which has secured its independence and has entered into a voluntary union with the peoples of Russia. It scarcely needs demonstrating that the rapacious paw the Entente is stretching out to Azerbaijan and the oil of Baku can only arouse the loathing of the Azerbaijan working people.

The chances of the Entente in Armenia and Georgia have likewise fallen considerably since the defeat of Wrangel. Dashnak Armenia undoubtedly fell a victim to Entente provocation; the Entente incited it against Turkey and then shamefully abandoned it to the tender mercies of the Turks. It is scarcely to be doubted that only one road of salvation remains open to Armenia: union with Soviet Russia. This fact will unquestionably be a lesson to all the peoples whose bourgeois governments still pay servile homage to the Entente—to Georgia in the first place.

That Georgia's economic and food situation is catastrophic is admitted even by its present rulers. The Georgia which became enmeshed in the toils of the Entente, and in consequence has lost both the oil of Baku and the grain of the Kuban, the Georgia which has become the main base of British and French imperialist operations, and has therefore entered into hostile relations with Soviet Russia—that Georgia is at its last gasp.

Small wonder that, having been thrown out of Europe by the tide of revolution, Herr Kautsky, the putrefying leader of the moribund Second International, has found an asylum in this musty Georgia that is enmeshed in the net of the Entente, among the bankrupt Georgian social-innkeepers. It is scarcely to be doubted that the Entente will abandon Georgia at a moment of difficulty, just as it abandoned Armenia.

In Persia, the position of the British as conquerors of that country is becoming more and more transparent. We know that the Persian Government, with its kaleidoscopic changes of composition, is only a screen for the British military attaches. We know that the so-called Persian army has ceased to exist, having been replaced by British sepoys. We know that this has stirred up a number of anti-British demonstrations in Teheran and Tabriz. It is scarcely to be doubted that this circumstance is not calculated to enhance the Entente's chances in Persia.

And lastly, Turkey. The period of the Treaty of Sevres, 1 which was directed against Turkey in general and against the Kemalists in particular, is undoubtedly coming to an end. The struggle of the Kemalists against the Entente and the growing ferment that this is stimulating in Britain's colonies, on the one hand, and the defeat of Wrangel and the fall of Venizelos in Greece, on the other, have induced the Entente to adopt a much milder policy towards the Kemalists. The defeat of Armenia by the Kemalists, with the Entente remaining absolutely "neutral," the rumours of the contemplated restoration of Thrace and Smyrna to Turkey, the rumours of negotiations between the Kemalists and the Sultan who is an agent of the Entente, and of a contemplated withdrawal from Constantinople, and, lastly, the lull on Turkey's Western Front—all these are symptoms which indicate that the Entente is flirting furiously with the Kema-lists, and that the Kemalists are probably executing a certain swing to the Right.

How the Entente's flirtation with the Kemalists will end, and how far the latter will go in their swing to the Right, it is difficult to say. But one thing is certain, and that is that the struggle for the emancipation of the colonies, begun several years ago, will intensify in spite of everything, that Russia, the acknowledged standard-bearer of this struggle, will support those who champion it with every available means, and that this struggle will lead to victory together with the Kemalists, if they do not betray the cause of the liberation of the oppressed peoples, or in spite of them, if they should land in the camp of the Entente.

Testimony to this is the revolution that is flaring up in the West and the growing might of Soviet Russia.

Pravda, No. 269, November 30, 1920


1. The Treaty of Sevres—the peace treaty dictated by the Entente to Turkey, who had been an ally of Germany in the First World War, and signed in Sevres, near Paris, on August 10, 1920. The onerous terms of the agreement, concluded with the Constantinople Government, practically deprived Turkey of independence.