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Kerensky and co. would manage a more balanced industrialization than the Soviets at least, which already makes them better than the Soviets. The Soviets set such a low bar that it's not hard to cross.
The Soviets managed to industrialize enough to defeat the Nazis. General Winter only does so much. General Zhukov had to have the materials to do the rest.
 
the original plans for the ussr's industrialization were modified from the Kerensky regime's plans (though the republican plans were far more sane and realistic and more capitalistic in nature) so I don't get why the idea that the republicans couldn't industrialize properly is coming from.
 
The Soviets managed to industrialize enough to defeat the Nazis. General Winter only does so much. General Zhukov had to have the materials to do the rest.
The Soviets were too focused on heavy industry and most of its industrial sector can't compete with the West commercially. I don't think Kerensky and co. can actually do everything they want to do, but at least they would build the seed for an industrial sector that could compete effectively with the rest of the world, ie. not have the economy be less than California.

PS: will we get a Comintern pact vs Germany and allies for the second weltkreig, and will the US tag in?
 
the original plans for the ussr's industrialization were modified from the Kerensky regime's plans (though the republican plans were far more sane and realistic and more capitalistic in nature) so I don't get why the idea that the republicans couldn't industrialize properly is coming from.
Plans don't mean you can put them into effect. I'm not sure how this is hard to follow. The question isn't 'do Kerensky and Co Plan to industrialize' the question is 'will their grip on Russia be strong enough for them to even do as much as Stalin did'. I think the answer is no. we'll find out one way or another when @Kaiser Wilhelm the Tenth gets that far, if Kerensky and Co even do win.
 
I originally had a long post typed up outlining the key events and policy ethoses of the Romanov rulers ITTL from 1801 - 1920, but a computer crash wiped it. So I will summarize:
  • Of the six tsars OTL reigning from 1800 - 1917, not one had a stable transfer of power from one to the next. Paul I was assassinated, with his son seemingly complicit if not intending for death to occur. Alexander I caught sudden illness and died, which coupled with succession uncertainties between Nicholas I and his brother Constantine (plus Alexander's repeated waffling on whether he supported or wanted to quash liberalism) led to an attempted coup by the Decembrist Society amid Nicholas' coronation in 1825. Nicholas himself caught pneumonia amid the end of the Crimean War and seems to have committed suicide by refusing treatment as penance, in spite of this leaving Alexander II to negotiate peace on terrible terms. Alexander II was obviously bombed to death literal hours after approving an extremely primitive constitutional reform for discussion and implementation. Alexander III declined rapidly due to a sudden case of nephritis, leaving the throne to woefully-unprepared Nicholas II. And Nicky stepped down from power only when the situation was so dire for Imperial authority that Mikhail was essentially incapable of stepping in as his successor were he to try.
  • Likewise, governing ethos and attitudes towards role in government varied rapidly from sovereign to sovereign in the last century of the empire. Alexander I started out as a reformist and guarantor of human rights, then bounced between suspicion and amicability towards Napoleon's ideals before Metternich finally convinced him to abandon liberalism entirely; the dissonance in his ideals seems to have contributed substantially to his decline in wellbeing near the end of his life, plus the rollback of most government reformation he accomplished by reactionary court figures as he withdrew from political activity. Nicholas II founded the ideals of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality, and placed Poland under martial law that lasted over thirty years. Alexander II introduced elected local government amid broad liberalization of the economy and educational structures, which then abruptly segued into the muzzling of all these institutions under the rule of his son and the institution of a nation-wide state of emergency which lasted from 1882 until the dissolution of the empire. Nicholas II is the only one who can really be construed as having continued the policies and relative outlook of his predecessor (a strong belief in divinely-ordained absolute rule), but his inclinations were as variable as the figures surrounding and influencing him.
  • A significant factor as to why the empire was able to retain the surface-level veneer of stability that it did through the later decades was through unbelievably harsh suppression of its own population. Alexander III's police state was de jure a temporary set of legal changes, but ended up lasting nearly forty years while granting significant power to the Okhrana and state in suppressing dissidents. Almost every tsar from Nicholas I onward utilized extreme anti-Semitism (the conscription of children into cantonal brigades, banning of settlement outside of cities, the May Laws - another feature of Alexander III which were legally temporary and factually permanent - setting population quotas for inhabitation outside the Pale of Settlement) to shore up appeal from religious figures and unite the population against a bogeyman. Non-Russian language was varyingly suppressed in education and banned from public use entirely, again in every ruling period from Nicholas I's onward.
Between the research I did then and my previous studies of Imperial Russian civic and geopolitical history, the image I have obtained was not of a stable if hardline government, but an autocratic system continually embattled against internal dissent and crippled in reform due to an existential need to appease the higher nobility, the centralization of power behind a single autocrat giving court actors undue influence (ex. Archimandrite Photius, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Grigory Rasputin), and an almost hilariously long streak of bad luck targeting reformist tsars. The Russian republican movement has a large number of factors standing between it and stability, but pointing to Tsarist history as an alternative does not produce much contrast. For every proto-fascist or Bolshevik strongman who could creep to power within the Republic's government, there is a court mystic or charismatic Black Hundredist within earshot of the Tsar. In the context of Russian history, the latter has seen even more examples than the first.


The current emperor, Andrei I, seems to regard the Constitution with some respect, but currently he is not only a very young figure in a sea of reactionary aristocrats, but de facto subservient to his father - who has expressed interest in removing both the 1906 and 1918 constitutions. Andrei may be the de jure Tsar and fairly charismatic among the soldiery, but his father is a ruthless figure and very much a "my way or the highway" sort of man, going off his conduct with Kirill and the initial agreement to hand the crown to his son. In the event of a Tsarist victory, I don't really know who is better poised to come out on top.
I hope that the Bolsheviks or the republicans or the palace coup kills the Grand Duke or uses his mind and preserves the constitution because if the constitution is abolished the situation will be worse than before.

And I think that Tsar Andrei is old enough to make the right decisions

If the Constitution is abolished, the Romanovs will become like the Bourbons, and Lenin will cry angrily, "They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing."
 
I originally had a long post typed up outlining the key events and policy ethoses of the Romanov rulers ITTL from 1801 - 1920, but a computer crash wiped it. So I will summarize:
  • Of the six tsars OTL reigning from 1800 - 1917, not one had a stable transfer of power from one to the next. Paul I was assassinated, with his son seemingly complicit if not intending for death to occur. Alexander I caught sudden illness and died, which coupled with succession uncertainties between Nicholas I and his brother Constantine (plus Alexander's repeated waffling on whether he supported or wanted to quash liberalism) led to an attempted coup by the Decembrist Society amid Nicholas' coronation in 1825. Nicholas himself caught pneumonia amid the end of the Crimean War and seems to have committed suicide by refusing treatment as penance, in spite of this leaving Alexander II to negotiate peace on terrible terms. Alexander II was obviously bombed to death literal hours after approving an extremely primitive constitutional reform for discussion and implementation. Alexander III declined rapidly due to a sudden case of nephritis, leaving the throne to woefully-unprepared Nicholas II. And Nicky stepped down from power only when the situation was so dire for Imperial authority that Mikhail was essentially incapable of stepping in as his successor were he to try.
  • Likewise, governing ethos and attitudes towards role in government varied rapidly from sovereign to sovereign in the last century of the empire. Alexander I started out as a reformist and guarantor of human rights, then bounced between suspicion and amicability towards Napoleon's ideals before Metternich finally convinced him to abandon liberalism entirely; the dissonance in his ideals seems to have contributed substantially to his decline in wellbeing near the end of his life, plus the rollback of most government reformation he accomplished by reactionary court figures as he withdrew from political activity. Nicholas II founded the ideals of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality, and placed Poland under martial law that lasted over thirty years. Alexander II introduced elected local government amid broad liberalization of the economy and educational structures, which then abruptly segued into the muzzling of all these institutions under the rule of his son and the institution of a nation-wide state of emergency which lasted from 1882 until the dissolution of the empire. Nicholas II is the only one who can really be construed as having continued the policies and relative outlook of his predecessor (a strong belief in divinely-ordained absolute rule), but his inclinations were as variable as the figures surrounding and influencing him.
  • A significant factor as to why the empire was able to retain the surface-level veneer of stability that it did through the later decades was through unbelievably harsh suppression of its own population. Alexander III's police state was de jure a temporary set of legal changes, but ended up lasting nearly forty years while granting significant power to the Okhrana and state in suppressing dissidents. Almost every tsar from Nicholas I onward utilized extreme anti-Semitism (the conscription of children into cantonal brigades, banning of settlement outside of cities, the May Laws - another feature of Alexander III which were legally temporary and factually permanent - setting population quotas for inhabitation outside the Pale of Settlement) to shore up appeal from religious figures and unite the population against a bogeyman. Non-Russian language was varyingly suppressed in education and banned from public use entirely, again in every ruling period from Nicholas I's onward.
Between the research I did then and my previous studies of Imperial Russian civic and geopolitical history, the image I have obtained was not of a stable if hardline government, but an autocratic system continually embattled against internal dissent and crippled in reform due to an existential need to appease the higher nobility, the centralization of power behind a single autocrat giving court actors undue influence (ex. Archimandrite Photius, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Grigory Rasputin), and an almost hilariously long streak of bad luck targeting reformist tsars. The Russian republican movement has a large number of factors standing between it and stability, but pointing to Tsarist history as an alternative does not produce much contrast. For every proto-fascist or Bolshevik strongman who could creep to power within the Republic's government, there is a court mystic or charismatic Black Hundredist within earshot of the Tsar. In the context of Russian history, the latter has seen even more examples than the first.


The current emperor, Andrei I, seems to regard the Constitution with some respect, but currently he is not only a very young figure in a sea of reactionary aristocrats, but de facto subservient to his father - who has expressed interest in removing both the 1906 and 1918 constitutions. Andrei may be the de jure Tsar and fairly charismatic among the soldiery, but his father is a ruthless figure and very much a "my way or the highway" sort of man, going off his conduct with Kirill and the initial agreement to hand the crown to his son. In the event of a Tsarist victory, I don't really know who is better poised to come out on top.
The bizarre thing for me is that by starting at 1800, you made me curious as to what the transfer of power was *prior* to 1800 which might have been deliberately excluded to start a list of unstable transitions. Given that that changeover was from Catherine the Great to Paul I and that Paul deliberately looked for her testament which might have excluded Paul in favor of her grandson, that doesn't particularly scream stable. The British may have found the transitions under the early George's chaotic, but not when compared to the Russians...
 
The problem with the Russian government at this point is that both options are awful. The Tsarists have become an echo chamber for the Grand Duke's revenge fantasies and incompetent sycophants, all while would-be Tsar Andrei is surrounded by people who likely are not fond of any government aside from "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality," even if they aren't Black Hundreds-level of extreme. After all, most of the liberals have at this point decamped for the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans are divided between authoritarian far-left types like the Bolsheviks, authoritarian left-leaning types like Kerensky, and a smattering of liberals. The peasants are rebelling and will likely demand serious concessions in exchange for their aid, all the while.
As for industrialization, I can't imagine anything worse in policy than the OTL Bolshevik efforts, but Russia is likely to remain poorer than the rest of the Congress of Europe for some time. Unless the Bolsheviks completely take over (a direction I don't think this TL will be taking), either Kerensky or the Tsarists will make larger efforts at industrialization, but in a way similar to that of Francoist Spain's economic progression - fueled by foreign investment near the capital and St. Petersburg, with the rural areas being hollowed out and with poor conditions for workers. Hopefully, whatever government takes power recognizes that they can't completely exclude the needs of labor, but considering the options, I rather doubt they will.
 
The bizarre thing for me is that by starting at 1800, you made me curious as to what the transfer of power was *prior* to 1800 which might have been deliberately excluded to start a list of unstable transitions. Given that that changeover was from Catherine the Great to Paul I and that Paul deliberately looked for her testament which might have excluded Paul in favor of her grandson, that doesn't particularly scream stable. The British may have found the transitions under the early George's chaotic, but not when compared to the Russians...
It struck me that it might give off the impression, and admittedly I went with 1800 specifically out of compromise between depicting keeping relevance (the political circumstances of Russia, while unique, weren't nearly as unusual in the early modern period as compared to the 19th century and onward) and depicting the full picture of Russia's sovereigns. I debated going as far back as Peter the Great, but decided that more focus should be put on the dialectic between the autocracy and popular sovereignty, which really only came to the fore in Europe with the Napoleonic period.

That said, earlier periods of history are just as tumultuous and interesting to learn about. Peter's antics in particular are fascinating - the man reminds me a lot of Theodore von Neuhoff if he were in established charge of a massive state rather than a pretender king. But the innate instability of Russia was as visible then as in the 1880s, between Peter's rather insane economic and modernization policies, Pugachev's rebellion during Catherine's reign, and Paul's various idiosyncrasies.
 
Chapter 56: War Drags On
Chapter Fifty-Six: War Drags On
"God damn it, Tukhachevsky's armies cannot run on patriotism, on exuberance! Trains and armoured cars are needed, because the horse and the marching man are no longer everything. If I cannot retrieve the oil of the South Caucasus and the industry of the Donets, I must end this war."
-Alexander Kerensky


"I remain spectacularly convinced of the value of tradition, my friends. Here, in the open steppe, has anyone called for more tanks, more artillery, more machine-guns? Nyet! Here, war is returned to the noble form of art it always was- bearing a greater resemblance to that used by our ancestors to eject Genghis Khan, than that used by the Germans in France. The noble cavalry sweep, friends, has won the day!"
-Semyon Budyonny

One year after the workers of Petrograd had walked out, Russia still had not found its destiny. Tens of thousands had fallen on the field; yet more had succumbed to hunger and disease. Tsarist blows had come fast. They'd repulsed the Republicans outside Tver and Rzhev before crushing Petrograd. For a moment the revolt seemed doomed. Provisional President Alexander Kerensky was deathly ill in Finland; his legitimacy had died in Petrograd. The Bolsheviks had allies in Helsinki, but were a world away from the worker's councils which had led the country into revolution. No one recognised the "Russian Republic", while Germany was doing everything short of war to aid the Tsarists.

All had seemed lost.

Six months into the New Year, things had changed. Matti Passivuori was to Finland what Kerensky was to Russia, and had planned to intervene after the fall of Petrograd. The Tsarists had saved him the trouble by attacking pre-prepared defences; the counterattack had liberated Petrograd. Though Ukraine still eluded them, the Republicans controlled the North Caucasian breadbasket and industry of the Central Volga. Horror stories and promises of reform had won them support domestic and foreign. The situation in summer 1920 resembled that of a year ago- except the Finns were on-side, the Tsarists were starving, and the Republicans had beaten impossible odds.

It was time to counter-attack, but few knew where. Kerensky wanted to connect freshly liberated Petrograd with Moscow. Isolation from Brusilov's armies had proved fatal once; there was no guarantee another Tsarist attack wouldn't seize the capital again. Finnish reinforcements would facilitate this, while the enemy remained weak in the sector. Local Republican commander Lavr Kornilov concurred. Attack was the best form of defence. Besides, linking up the two greatest cities in Russia would restore some lost legitimacy. Others were less certain. Alexei Brusilov, commander of the forces in Moscow and the Central Volga, bravely flew over enemy territory to confer in Petrograd. He pointed out that his namesake offensive had failed to cross the three hundred miles between Moscow and Petrograd. Having grown used to operating independently while Kerensky hid in Finland gave the Republican general courage. Brusilov refused to launch an attack he believed doomed. Predictability helped only the enemy. Rather than further fighting in the north, Brusilov wanted to turn south. Securing Ukraine or the southern Caucasus would do more than conquering a few northern cities. Kornilov challenged him, arguing that Ukraine and the Caucasus were "peripheries". This was not a war for resources, Kornilov charged, but one for legitimacy. Eliminating the Tsarist strongholds in the north would be far more convincing on the world stage than, as he put it, "sailing past Potemkin's village!" Kerensky proposed a compromise. Brusilov could invade eastern Ukraine provided he launched a subsidiary attack to the north, while the Finns would pursue their own objectives.

Political drama with the Finns (1)- Matti Paasivuori resented being treated as a subordinate- delayed things far longer than they should've, and the Republican plans for attacking in the north were heavily modified. However, Brusilov's plan for seizing the industry of the Donets basin was approved. Besides threatening the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Crimea, this would provide the Republican war machine with valuable industry and metal deposits. (2)

Just as the Republicans prepared to attack, God threw a spanner in the works. Tsarist anti-air guns opened fire on a two-seater above Veliky Novgorod on 12 June, 1920. Two German Albatroses in Russian colours pursued the plane, leaving the pilot- who should have known better than to fly over an enemy city in daylight- without options. Bullets shredded canvas and wood before striking the gas tank. The pilot was dead long before the plane's shattered skeleton slammed into the ground. So too was his passenger: General Alexei Brusilov.

Realising what had happened took time. The lack of secure communications between Petrograd and Moscow meant Brusilov hadn't wired his deputies before taking off. Air travel in 1920 was a chaotic business- weather routinely caused long delays. Or perhaps the conference had simply run longer than expected? After four days, though, it was clear something was wrong. Confirmation only came on the seventeenth, with a gloating article in the Tsarist press. Brusilov's charred remains had been retrieved from the crash and, in fairness to the Tsarists, given a full burial with military honours. His coffin crossed the lines under flag of truce some months later. The loss of Brusilov was a catastrophe. He'd been a miracle worker during the Great War, keeping the Russian Army intact as it withdrew in autumn 1916. Though his namesake offensive had failed, it had shown Republican fighting power and dissuaded the Tsarists from moving on Moscow. Alexei Brusilov was sixty-seven years old, and had given forty-eight of them to Russia.

His successor would have large shoes to fill- and the fate of a nation resting on his shoulders.

Mikhail Tukhachevsky had been born near Smolensk in 1893 and obtained a cavalry commission on the outbreak of the Great War. Despite distinguishing himself against the Germans and Austro-Hungarians, he was captured in late 1915 and spent the rest of the war in a Bavarian fortress. Repatriated as per the Treaty of Konigsberg, he became an adherent of socialism after reading Lenin’s
Imperialism As the Self-Destructive Outgrowth of Capitalism. Tukhachevsky joined the Central Volga People’s Army the very day it was founded, and was surprised when his previous rank as a cavalry officer was restored. His valour (he personally led not one but two charges against a Tsarist machine-gun as though it was the summer of 1914) came to Brusilov’s notice, and after being wounded when his horse was shot out from under him he received a promotion. Discharged from hospital the day after Second Borodino, Brigadier General received command of the Moscow garrison. Declaring his “total devotion to the people’s government”, he ordered a “state of heightened emergency” in the city. Banners called for the people to “mobilise in the name of Comrades Lenin and Zinoviev, and of Provisional President Kerensky lest the Tsarists crush you underfoot”. Tukhachevsky put Muscovites to work digging trenches and carrying supplies, and reopened the city’s arms factories. The people grumbled, but the alternative was frightening enough they obeyed willingly. He installed newfound military discipline in the Moscow garrison, building an esprit de corps while quietly reinforcing the power of officers at the expense of the soldier’s councils. After inspecting the garrison on 15 August 1919, Brusilov was so impressed he made Tukhachevsky a full general, second-in-command of the entire Central Volga People’s Army. His methods spread to all the major cities under Republican control. Provisional President Kerensky was too far away to fully understand what was happening in Moscow. He didn’t fully realise that, blinded by his dazzling skill, Brusilov was grooming a protege whose first loyalty was to Marxism, not to the Republic. Tukhachevsky had wanted to launch a relief expedition during the siege of Petrograd, but Brusilov- believing the capital lost- demurred. Tukhachevsky spent several months integrating the North Caucasus, overseeing the transit of supplies and trying to bring Alexander Antonov's peasant bands up to scratch. The experience had opened the general's eyes. Watching men labour all day to keep others from starving had taught him about logistics; hearing the proletarian Antonov's grievances had taught him a thing or two about politics. Restored to Moscow when Brusilov flew to Petrograd, Tukhachevsky was the natural choice to succeed him.

The Republican heroes of the day, Mikhail
Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky and Kliment Yefrevomich Voroshilov, photographed shortly after the end of the civil war.

Tukhachevsky.png

kliment voroshilov.jpg

Aware of what the Central Volga armies were capable of, Tukhachevsky declared Brusilov's plan to attack south a "singularly unambitious idea". The further attacks in the Caucasus were good, but he intended to advance northwards, where alongside the Finns, he would drive the Tsarists from their centres of power before the onset of winter. Tukhachevsky valued surprise, and went to great lengths to make the enemy think he was aiming south. He kept his communication with Petrograd brief, and had agents posing as defectors feed the Tsarists misinformation. Surviving telegrams from Tsarist commanders demonstrate his success: all speak of the need for vigilance in the Caucasus while ignoring the North.

Tukhachevsky's plan was ambitious, but he knew he was capable.

Before his untimely death, Alexei Brusilov had designed the Republican battle-plan for the southern theatre around resources. Eastern Ukraine housed a significant amount of industry that could augment the Republican war machine. It was compressed in a small geographic area and was close to the frontline. The second thrust was more ambitious. Tukhachevsky wanted to drive down the western shore of the Caspian Sea and capture the oilfields of Chechnya and Azerbaijan. The grain of the North Caucasus, the oil of the southern reaches, and industry of the national heartland, would make the Republican machine invincible. Though Tukhachevsky yearned for combat, his job was in Moscow. As a skilled strategist and staff officer, he needed to look at things with detachment, and from a distance. Besides, the revolution needed him. Losing Brusilov had been bad enough; losing him would be worse.

Tukhachevsky had absolute confidence in his subordinates. Kliment Voroshilov was assigned to conquer his birthplace, eastern Ukraine. Ideally, his attachment to the land would help Voroshilov present himself as a liberator, not a conqueror. He'd been too absorbed in radical politics for a command in the Great War, but had distinguished himself during the Brusilov Offensive. Voroshilov was a consummate professional, whose knowledge of his job was matched only by his personal courage and political reliability. The other man was rather different. Semyon Budyonny had joined the cavalry to escape the family farm, and achieved glory (if not substantial success) as an officer in both Manchuria, Poland, and the South Caucasus. His experience with the region and aggressive nature recommended him to Tukhachevsky.

Both had their work cut out for them.

Tukhachevsky's offensive began on the first of August 1920. Over a million men, many of them peasant conscripts, stood behind a frontline half the length of the old German front. Conditions in the west largely resembled the old front. Four days after the attack began, Grand Duke Mikhailovich named Baron Pyotr Wrangel "Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Armies". It fell to the eccentric nobleman to halt the tide. His task was easiest in the west, where Voronezh, Luhansk, and Rostov formed "anchors" for the front. Having predicted they'd face attack, Wrangel had fortified the cities as best he could, even though fighting elsewhere had eaten into his supplies. Voroshilov was no fool, and rather than attacking the cities head-on he bypassed them. Defeating the local Tsarist armies first would let him conquer the cities at leisure; becoming bogged down in sieges would serve only the enemy. Voroshilov struck hard and fast, and with intelligence. Rather than force a crossing of the River Don, Voroshilov moved his main force to the one major Republican-controlled crossing. Pavlovsk was a medium-sized town which Alexander Antonov had delivered to the Republicans in the summer. Its bridge over the great river made it valuable, and the Tsarist garrison had fought hard for it. Now, an infantry brigade and fighter squadron protected the town- and more importantly, the bridge. Best of all, it was equidistant between Voronezh and Luhansk.

Pavlovsk thus became the lynchpin of Voroshilov's attack. Infantry and cavalry burst through into open countryside, heading due west. Bright summer sun baked the Russian steppe. Voroshilov drove due west, creating a Republican 'bulge' in the line. Every day gave the Tsarists a few more miles of flank to cover and a little more confusion as to his objective. Kharkov was the ultimate goal, but he could just as easily wheel north to envelop Voronezh, or south to Luhansk. Caution was Wrangel's watchword- committing to a fixed battle with Voroshilov would deplete his reserves. Intelligence and common sense told Wrangel his foe was looking after his flanks; cutting him off wouldn't be easy. Thus, Wrangel pulled back, harassing the advancing Republicans and holding local strongpoints, but not committing to a pitched battle. By the middle of the month, this strategy was paying off. Though Voroshilov had advanced eighty miles, he hadn't taken anything of strategic value. Kharkov wasn't in immediate danger, and the Republican forces in front of Voronezh and Luhansk were there to defend, not attack.

It was time for a counterattack.

Wrangel spent the last two weeks of August in his headquarters, planning. He was confident- though not certain- that Kharkov would hold. The city was well-fortified, and he had no plans to redeploy its garrison. Besides, if worst came to worst, there was plenty of steppe east of the city to trade for time. Since his position wasn't seriously threatened, Wrangel saw no reason to remain passively defending. Since the enemy had punched a salient in his front, he would return the favour. A swift, sharp strike south of Voroshilov's army would reclaim the initiative, threaten to outflank the Republicans, and secure Luhansk. Grand Duke Mikhailovich gave his blessing after Wrangel promised to complete the task without extra reinforcements.

The counteroffensive began on the twenty-eighth. Having achieved tactical surprise, Wrangel quickly blew past the enemy screening force. His men were in Millerovo, four miles behind the lines, by dusk. While the need to guard against Voroshilov's southern flank (Wrangel's north) left his attack less powerful than his foe's, Wrangel still stunned the enemy. Voroshilov was forced to march units across sixty miles of countryside, severely weakening his own offensive. Cavalry formed the base of the units sent south; they were faster than infantry, especially in the open steppe. They couldn't stem the tide, though. Wrangel widened his salient to further strain Voroshilov's flanks- the more open steppe the enemy had to cover, the harder it'd be to amass a proper reserve. After two weeks, his men had penetrated fifty miles. Behind his success, though, lurked uncertainty. Where was he to go? Voroshilov's main force was still northwest of him. Stripping forces from Ukraine meant the army would face light opposition if it marched westwards, making it a very real threat. Turning north to cut Voroshilov off seemed the obvious choice. Yet at the same time, Wrangel had penetrated deep into the Republican North Caucasus. Decisive success might not only deprive the enemy of his breadbasket, but isolate the Republican armies advancing on the oilfields. Tsaritsyn- hastily renamed Volgograd by the Republicans (3)- was only two hundred kilometres away. Alternatively, Wrangel told himself, he could turn south and chase the Republican armies in the South Caucasus. The euphoria of victory blinded him to his own comparative weakness, and the sheer size of the Russian steppe.

Time was running out; his opponent's next move was already in the works.

Voroshilov had, he freely admitted after the war, been caught off-guard. Wrangel's light opposition had misled him into overestimating his own strength. He'd guarded the base of his salient, but not the surrounding territory, and should have known better. Voroshilov had no intention of giving up, though, and as the days wore on got a handle on the situation. Wrangel, he believed, had struck too far south. Though the Tsarist faced lighter opposition there and didn't have to cross the Donets, he also wasn't striking Voroshilov's supply lines. Three main road and rail junctions connected the Republican army to Moscow: Boguchar to the south, Kalach to the northeast, and Pavlovsk- his jump-off point. Pavlovsk and Kalach were on the opposite end of the Donets from Wrangel; only Boguchar was threatened. Yet, Wrangel's northern flank was seventy miles south of the town. Voroshilov didn't know what his opponent was aiming for, only that he'd erred.

He didn't intend to give Wrangel time to fix his mistake.

Voroshilov explained all this to Tukhachevsky on 14 September, beginning with a request. His plan required the total commitment of his forces, including those guarding his rear. If Tukhachevsky could release a handful of infantry divisions from the strategic reserve to protect the three crucial villages, he'd be most grateful. Tukhachevsky consented, and Voroshilov explained his plan. The senior Republican commander followed along with a map and pencil in his Moscow bunker. "Kliment Yefremovich", he breathed, face glowing, "I knew I could trust you!" Reserves moved to cover the Republican rear, Voroshilov reorganised his own men, and the counterattack began forty-eight hours later.

Voroshilov and Tukhachevsky shared a belief in what would later be called 'deep penetration theory'. It resembled Germany's
Hutierkrieg tactics which had shown their worth in the Great War and Danubia: cut through the enemy lines to wreck havoc in the rear. Tukhachevsky's ideas were better suited to a nation of peasant armies, cavalrymen, and endless steppe. Whereas the Germans concentrated fire on one small break-through point, the Russian commander believed in attacking on as wide a front as possible to prevent a proper reserve from forming. These principles had certainly been used before in the Russian Civil War, but military historians cite this counteroffensive as the seed from which deep penetration theory would later grow.

Pyotr Wrangel and his men were about to become the lab rats for a new experiment in military history.

Voroshilov attacked south at dawn on 17 September. On Tukachevsky's advice, he'd divided his force in two. The first group- based at the hamlet of Milove, at the very southern tip of his conquests- was to smash south towards Luhansk, but not to get bogged down in urban fighting. It was the action of moving south that mattered, Voroshilov had told his subordinates, the town was just a useful landmark. The second group had the more ambitious objective. Based a few miles northwest of Milove, it was to march due south, wrap around west of Luhansk, and keep going as far as possible. This would trap Wrangel behind two armies, leaving the Tsarists near-defenceless in eastern Ukraine.

For once, it worked. Wrangel had committed the same errors as Voroshilov- forging ahead without securing his flanks. However, he lacked Voroshilov's rear support and Tukhachevsky's strategic reserves. "The explosion to which we awoke on that day", recalled a Tsarist prisoner's memoirs, "told us what was coming. Something entirely outside our experience, something too large for our efforts, individual or collective, to push back." The Republican armies were imperfectly equipped, and tactical-level leadership varied, but it was nothing the Tsarists didn't face.
Elan might not be a substitute for more tangible factors, but it gave the Republicans an edge over their foes on that day. Just as he'd forced Voroshilov to do, Wrangel halted his attack to patch up his flank. And just like Voroshilov's dismounted cavalrymen, they'd been given an impossible task. It wasn't courage that was lacking, but supplies and defensible positions. Focusing on the eastern Republican column gave the western one free rein and vice versa. Deciding it was hopeless, the Tsarist commander withdrew to Luhansk. With Wrangel pulling his men out west, ideally the city could hold out long enough for the main army to flee. Instead, just as Voroshilov and Tukhachevsky had planned, the western column blazed past and wrapped around his south, while the eastern one put the city under siege.

Wrangel was trapped.

The fearsome-looking Tsarist supremo, Baron Pyotr Wrangel
wrangel.jpg


Though the Tsarist commander declared his resolve to fight on, he was pragmatic. Every day his isolated forces resisted would throw lives away to no end. The spectre of his men mutinying before the Republicans crushed his pocket kept him awake. Halfway through October, with the dreaded Russian winter winds blowing in from Siberia, Wrangel opened negotiations with Voroshilov. If the Republicans would spare his life, and those of his men, he'd lay down his arms. Voroshilov eagerly accepted, disarming the Tsarist soldiers before offering them a choice: spending the rest of the war in captivity, or joining the Republican army. Most chose the latter. Wrangel himself was taken to Samara, where he spent the rest of the war in a comfortable house arrest. His surrender was catastrophic for the Tsarists. Aside from the hefty Kharkov garrison, only politically-oriented scratch militias protected Ukraine.

Had Wrangel remained on the defensive, the Tsarist breadbasket would be much more secure.


***
The campaign in the Caucasus went less smoothly. Whereas Voroshilov was operating in a relatively small area, Semyon Budyonny's forces were spread out all across the Caucasus. Grozny was closer to Budyonny's start line than Kharkov to Voroshilov's, but Baku and Batumi might've been on the far end of the moon. Differences between the two commanders compounded this. Whereas Voroshilov knew how to translate a strategic goal into specific tactical and operational steps, all Budyonny saw was a name on a map, to be conquered... somehow. Budyonny's planning was less focussed than Voroshilov's, contained fewer specific instructions for field commanders, and most ominously, ignored the possibility of a major enemy counterattack. Brusilov had been planning to attack in the North Caucasus before his untimely death, and there were large (by Russian Civil War standards) reserves and supply dumps waiting for him. Though this was helpful, it also told the enemy where the blow would fall and cost him surprise.

Blissfully ignorant, Semyon Budyonny sent his men ahead on 28 July 1920, and got off to a promising start. Tsarist commander Mikhail Drozdovsky was ready for him and made the same calculation as Wrangel. Road and rail links mattered; miles of empty steppe didn't. Rostov, Svyatoy (4), and Stavropol kept their garrisons, but the rest of the western Caucasus was stripped bare. Drozdovsky knew if he was wrong, the whole region would collapse, but believed the gamble was worth it. These reinforcements gave the Republicans hell on the road to Grozny.

Before the war, people had avoided Kochubey where possible. The destitute North Caucasian village, which seemed not to have changed since Napoleon, personified boredom and bleakness. Its one redeeming feature was that it lay en route to Baku. Now, that made it some of the most coveted land in Russia. Budyonny's men who hurled themselves across the Dagestani highlands met stiff defences. Drozdovsky wasn't about to cede the most important road junction for forty miles without a fight, and committed reserves only days into the fight. Unable to hack their way in, Budenny's infantry took great losses before the general had a plan.

Low-lying steppe turns to marsh as it nears the Caspian Sea. Believing it impenetrable, the Tsarists hadn't bothered fortifying it. Humans couldn't traverse it on foot and be ready to fight, but Budyonny had always believed in the power of the horse. On 14 August, a cavalry regiment saddled up and waded through the muck. It was miserable going, and many animals died of exhaustion. Yet, the Republicans emerged on terra firma the next day, with Kochubey's supply lines lying miles away like low-hanging fruit. Cavalry charged across the steppe, sabres swinging. The threat of encirclement forced Drozdovsky to pull troops from the fighting front. These men pieced the lines on the map room back together, but nothing could recapture the initiative. Two weeks after the cavalry maneouvre began, Budyonny's weary men entered Kochubey. Against the advice of his field commanders, Budenny continued the attack. Fighting had left the all-important road- the whole reason for going after Kochubey- useless. Supplying an advance south would be difficult until it was repaired. However, the general pushed his men on. Sacrificing initiative for something as petty as logistics was no way to win a war!

Hungry Republican troops had a few ideas as to what their commander should've done with his beloved "initiative". They needed to supplant their scant rations with requisitioning, but this not only wasted time which should've been spent fighting or marching, it alienated people from the Republican cause. When Tarumovka and Areshevka, both twenty-five miles south of Kochubey, fell at the end of September, Republican troops turned the place upside down looking not for political prisoners or wealth, but food.

"They appeared as starving men", wrote one Dagestani girl, "whose sole concern was to keep themselves alive so as to slaughter more men- this, evidently, being their main goal on this earth. Did they know that whatever they ate came at our expense, that we would go hungry to satisfy their needs? I do not know. But I am certain that those who realised this did not care. We were simply objects in the way, people to be marginalised or enslaved, so that the homeland could be made profitable... These Kerenskyite skeletons saw only the Romanov emblem on the patches of the other side. They were blind to the fact that the other men were just skeletons too... If this is what the homeland has come to, I envy the old. Better still, I envy the dead. Not to worry: I am sure I shall soon see them face to face."

Tukhachevsky summoned Budyonny to Volgograd on 20 September for a talking-to. He pulled no punches, contrasting Budenny's perfomance with Voroshilov's. While the latter had just trapped Wrangel's army with beautiful flexibility, Budyonny had captured only a few worthless villages while destroying his supply lines and hemorrhaging men. The Republican supremo was in a foul mood: he needed to monitor the fighting in eastern Ukraine and didn't have time to waste cleaning up after Budyonny. If he'd chosen the wrong subordinate, there were other men itching for the job. Tukachevsky pointed out similarities between the deep-penetration tactics Voroshilov had used against Wrangel and Budyonny's cavalry maneouvre through the swamps. He still had faith, but couldn't run on promises. If Budyonny could get the plan for his next attack on Tukhachevsky's desk in twenty-four hours, all would be well. True to form, Budenny presented his plan the next day. Massed cavalry, reinforced with armoured cars, would attack the west of the Tsarists, hoping to turn their flank. Republican forces could then advance down the road towards the Terek River; a natural stop line. "You had best not disappoint", the commander growled, but his tone softened. "This is reasonable, my man. Your men are brave and in good hands. Thus, I know you will not disappoint.

Tukhachevsky's real views are shown by a letter he wrote to Kerensky: it might be time for some infiltration behind the scenes in case things went awry.

Events moved too fast for Budyonny, though. Drozdovsky was about to seize the initiative and force him on the defensive. His coming offensive would go ahead, but it would end up as the disappointment Tukhachevsky had warned against. Part of this is attributable to Budyonny's own shortcomings. The general's very real valour and pursuit of the initative weren't matched by the lessons of the Great War. Budenny saw the glory of cavalry charges, blaring of trumpets, and proud uniforms as the essence of victory, not logistics, artillery, and training. Though he was hardly alone in this, his love of tradition and single-minded aggressiveness eventually became vices costing lives under his command and battlefield success. That dynamic certainly played out over the coming autumn's fighting. Another piece is more simple: the general's intelligence was poor. Agents behind the lines were valuable but couldn't work miracles, and simply hadn't realised Drozdovsky's true plans. Budenny had thus far battled a foe who, while resilient, was passive and defensive. We can only blame him for basing his offensive on this pattern with modern hindsight.

At first glance, Drozdovsky's actions thus far are hard to explain. Namely: he took no action. Tsarist troops fought valiantly but never attacked. Drozdovsky's intelligence must've had an idea how poor Budyonny's supply situation was, and the commander must've guessed that a counterattack would meet light resistance. Angry correspondence from Grand Duke Mikhailovich shows the Tsarist leaderhip's opinion. Why was Drozdovsky standing on the defensive? Taking punches wouldn't win the war, after all. Why had he watched passively as Wrangel's army collapsed? In fact, Drozdovsky had a simple plan: to let geography work for him. He saw the same map as his enemy. The Terek River was only a few miles south of the fighting front; the northermost peaks of the Caucasus Mountains weren't far behind. Grozny and Baku lay south of these prime obstacles. All he needed to do was not lose; Budenny had to hack through the mountains. Lavishing surplus manpower on such a simple defence would be wasteful. Far better to put those men to work.

For all his success against Pyotr Wrangel, Voroshilov had made a cardinal error: he'd left Rostov in Tsarist hands. The Black Sea port housed tens of thousands and controlled the mouth of the River Don. Prioritising the eastern oilfields above the port was reasonable, but letting the enemy build it into a redoubt was an error. In the days before Budenny's summons to Volgograd, Drozdovsky had begun reinforcing the port. If he played his cards right, he could smash the Republican position in the northwest Caucasus while Budenny's men bled on the Terek.

Drozdovsky quite reasonably waited till Budyonny struck south before moving. This enabled him to see just what his opponent had committed to the fight. Strange as it sounds, the force of his enemy's blow pleased him. Terek-Mekteb and Korneyvo, nearly fifty miles west of the main road south, were in enemy hands by the start of October. Meanwhile, Tsarist troops to the east faced renewed pressure. Drozdovsky feared enemy cavalry might slip across the Terek in the west or trap his men north of the river, but kept a cool head. His men followed orders and retreated across the river, demolishing the bridges behind them. As per their commander's plan, Budenny's cavalry in the west focussed on flanking the Tsarists in the east, not crossing the Terek independently. Ten days of fighting convinced Drozdovsky the enemy had failed (even if they didn't know it yet). The strategic reserve wouldn't be needed for emergencies in the east, and could go ahead with its attack.

Tsarist forces erupted from Rostov on 9 October. Though his armies were closer to Ukraine than the Caucasus, Drozdovsky was more interested in the latter. Ukraine was, at least temporarily, a lost cause- the North Caucasus wasn't. Drozdovsky put geography to work for him here, too. Rostov was ideal to attack from because it was where the Don met the sea. Control of it provided control of both banks of the great river. Highlands north of the city provided a natural line for the offensive to follow.

Twenty miles northeast of Rostov, Novocherkassk was the obvious first target. Tsarist forces advanced out of the suburb of Aksay up a minor tributary of the same name. Had they had to cross the Don, the Tsarists would've taken far longer to reach the city. As it was, they crossed the fifteen miles of gentle hills in two days while bombarding the town. The garrison resisted Drozdovsky's advance scouts, but once the main force arrived suddenly developed a newfound reverence for the House of Romanov. Most of the men followed their commander into the Tsarist ranks. Meanwhile, second-rate infantry advanced eastwards across the north bank of the Don, clearing out pockets of Republican resistance. Having opened the offensive well, Drozdovsky faced a key decision. Would he keep going north into the North Caucasian breadbasket, and hopefully driving a wedge between Ukraine and the Caucasus? Or would he turn his army southeast and march deep into the rear of the Republican armies lunging at the oilfields? Logistics dictated the former. Marching through endless miles of steppe, creating a wide-open flank, was a recipe for disaster. Besides, the forces to the east could fend for themselves well enough. Drozdovsky thus turned his force north, towards Shakty. The advance on that town was fundamentally the same as that on Novocherkassk: a few days of marching under constant light opposition, followed by a general surrender and mopping-up operations. Artillery blew away fears that the Republicans would fight a long delaying battle halfway between the towns at Persianovsky while bringing up reinforcements. One week of fighting had carried Tsarist arms forward over forty miles- and Drozdovsky had no intention of giving up yet.

The Tsarist commander had struck too far west to directly affect the men dying on the River Tivek. Losing Novocherkassk and Shakty didn't threaten to outflank units over four hundred miles away. Yet, Drozdovsky was thinking on a much larger scale. His move was not tactical, but operational. In a certain sense, his striking deep far from the active front resembled Tukhachevsky's burgeoning deep-penetration theories. Rapid movement to create a fresh crisis diverted Republican units and sucked up Tukhachevsky's reserves. More than that, Budyonny's focus on his offensive blinded him to the threat of enemy action elsewhere. Drozdovsky's move may have been tactically irrelevant to a far-flung theatre, but it achieved strategic surprise- and caught the foe off-guard. Budenny did exactly what Drozdovsky had hoped: he cancelled the offensive against the River Tivek line to throw every man he could at the new danger. The general order to halt went out at dusk on 18 October; reserves and rear-area units began marching to railway stations that night. When every hour seemed key to stemming the crisis in the west, having torn up every road and rail line in sight seemed foolish. Budyonny could cancel his offensive at the stroke of a pen, but he couldn't get the men where they needed to go. While officers muttered obscenities about the rail system in the North Caucasus, the enemy kept moving. Cancelling the offensive against the River Tivek line was reasonable, but it also ceded the initiative to the enemy. Tsarist troops counter-attacked at dawn on the 19th, having spent the night bringing up supplies unmolested. Despite Republican weakness, things didn't go as hoped. Tsarist numerical inferiority wasn't an issue on defence, but it limited their offensive capabilities. The local commander wisely called the attack off after eighteen hours lest he waste men needed to defend. Subsequently, the eastern Caucasus became a quiet sector: the Tsarists were happy to defend while the Republicans lacked the strength to push forward. With the frontline well north of the oilfields, Budyonny had failed.

Catastrophe in the west cast disappointment in the east into the shade. Drozdovsky's forces entered Ust-Donetskii on the last day of October, quickly fording a north-running tributary of the Don which might've held them up. Valiant Republican reserves did their best to stem the tide, mounting local counteroffensives from nearby villages. Much as he wanted to, Tukhachevsky decided against a full-scale counterattack. Voroshilov's forces in Eastern Ukraine needed to strike a difficult balance between pursuing their own offensive goals and preventing a Tsarist thrust northwest. Voroshilov was building up a tactical reserve to eventually move on Rostov, while Tukhachevsky was building his own reserve in the bend of the Don. Russia's endemic supply problems hampered the training and organising of these forces. Continued fighting in the north, the threats to the Central Volga from the west and east, and the political situation with Finland limited the ability of the Republicans to shift forces south. Tukhachevsky couldn't know when the next emergency would develop, and always needed some uncommitted strategic reserve. Trading space for time was demoralising, and looked bad on a map, but it was the best option. Drozdovsky, meanwhile, was fast becoming a victim of his own success. His men had advanced rapidly over well-defended terrain over the past month. Yet, the Russian Civil War was a hard time to be a logistician. Autumn raspitua turned roads into seas of mud which neither wheel nor hoof could penetrate. When their rations wore out, Drozdovsky's men turned to the land for sustenance. Worse was yet to come- the second winter of war. Though the North Caucasus is milder than Moscow or Petrograd, Drozdovsky knew he couldn't fight in the depths of December. He had to find a suitable stop line in the next month or face defeat.

There was an obvious target. Drozdovsky knew he could reach it, and Tukhachevsky was certain he could hold it. One thing was certain: thousands of lives rested on success or failure.


Comments?

(1) To be explained later on... doing so here would destroy the narrative.
(2) The region is rich in coal- no?
(3) Not OTL, but it seems entirely reasonable.
(4) Known, ironically enough, as Budyonnovsk on my map. I'm assuming it was named after the commander (which obviously wouldn't be the case in 1920), and Wikipedia says it was once known as Svyatoy, so... I'm going with that.
 
Maps for Chapter 56
Apologies for the low quality-- this was the best I could do. I used these maps to help write the above so hopefully they'll make everything a bit clearer.

#1: Frontlines in Eastern Ukraine
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#2: Map of the area in the Caucasus where Budyonny attacks
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#3: Map of the area in where Drozdovsky's attack goes in
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Kaiser Wilhelm the Tenth

The chapter was very nice and I thank you very much for it

Finally, the fearsome Baron Wrangel appeared

It seems that the tsarist and republican parties received equal damage, especially the loss of Borislov weakened the republicans by losing a competent general like him.

I hope Wrangel gets out of his way

I find it still strange that the Ottomans and the Germans still did not attempt to intervene in the Russian Civil War.
 
"I remain spectacularly convinced of the value of tradition, my friends. Here, in the open steppe, has anyone called for more tanks, more artillery, more machine-guns? Nyet! Here, war is returned to the noble form of art it always was- bearing a greater resemblance to that used by our ancestors to eject Genghis Khan, than that used by the Germans in France. The noble cavalry sweep, friends, has won the day!"
-Semyon Budyonny
Getting some real strong "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning!" vibes off this fella.

Oooh, colour me intrigued to see what's got the Fins in such a twist.
Just as the Republicans prepared to attack, God threw a spanner in the works.
You know, at this point, Russia is more spanner now than works. But Brusilov's death did make me go "Ah shit!" which is a unique experience. For all his flaws, the man was certainly competent at executing orders. And it's yet another failure of propaganda in this blighted war. His replacement is...ah, interesting. 'The Red Napoleon' what a bloody nickname! And oh boy....red really is the case, isn't it? This is going to be fun, especially if you consider the 'unambitious' comment about the plan.

I'll say this for the Tsarists, this Wrangel seems to be a relatively sane general. I mean right up until the point where he wasn't, but hey, compared to some...It's interesting actually, my history class covered the Russian Civil War of OTL but in a very brief window between the rise and fall of the Tsar and the chaos of Stalin's regime. This is giving me a chance to learn all sorts of new figures, it's quite fascinating.

And this is an interesting story of both sides of the war having decent generals and generals who vastly overstep their boundaries. Certainly it is an interesting lesson in the art of war, presented skilfully and easy to follow. And once again, a desperate struggle to find a stopping point might prove the tipping point for this act in the theatre of war. Bring it on, I say!

Another grand chapter.
 
Tukhachevsky's offensive began on the first of August 1920. Over a million men, many of them peasant conscripts, stood behind a frontline half the length of the old German front. Conditions in the west largely resembled the old front. Four days after the attack began, Grand Duke Mikhailovich named Baron Pyotr Wrangel "Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Armies".
Belaya armiya, chorny baron...

A shame to see Brusilov go; it stands to reason he will find commemoration for his competence ITTL as well as OTL. Yet his replacement being Tukhachevsky of all people makes for a fascinating twist in the story, both in terms of what it could mean for future Republican politics and in terms of the military action to come. If nothing else, the Red Napoleon squaring up against the Black Baron certainly a personality battle for the ages. It seems he came out on top here, but time will tell whether his prescient strategic mindset or his famous overaggression will define his part in the war more.

Budyonny did as can be expected to do, in so doing giving the Tsarists a fine new chance to act in the Caucasus and Pontic Steppe. This is roughly within Antonov's sphere of activity; given the renewed Republican presence on this front, one wonders whether he will take the opportunity to distinguish himself. I would reckon the outside world sees how much is at stake here, given that Baku was in this timeframe one of the world's most important centers of oil production. Given the resource importance and demographic characteristics of the area, it certainly smells like a good time for the Ottomans to intervene if they wish to do so.
 
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I see Budyonny is as much of an idiot as ever. Will he win the war for the Tsarists here, much like he won the war for the Poles IOTL? I can't believe I'm saying this, but that man makes Lakeitel or even that idiot Jodl look like tactical geniuses.
 
Just as surprising is Voroshilov being awesome - provided the Republicans do win, he may very well actually deserve his heavy tank.
On the other hand, considering his role in the OTL Great Purge, a republican victory could lead to a similar bloodbath that sees anyone with so much as a hint of royalist sympathies murdered. That, or he spearheads a double-cross of the Finns, invading Finland and provoking an Anglo-German intervention that sees German battleships bombarding Petrograd/British battleships bombarding Murmansk and Odessa/German and Swedish troops marching across Lapland/British tanks rumbling down Helsinki's streets/Japanese battleships bombarding Vladivostok.
 
Wow, what a stack of comments! Thank you guys. I didn't quote all of them, but here you go...

Kaiser Wilhelm the Tenth

The class was so amazing

I feel that Grand Duke Mikhailovich's actions will negatively affect his cause as revenge begins to devour him (we can't blame him), but it will be detrimental in the long run.

The tsar seems reasonable compared to his father

The Finns are the biggest winners in this battle. They were able to play on both sides and win victories and leave losses to the Russians but, oddly enough, they were not a kingdom since the Central Powers won and gave their candidate to Finland.

Will we see an Ottoman intervention in the Russian Civil War like Finland or is it not possible? (due to the ambition of the three pashas in the Caucasus)

It seems that Russia will be divided into two parts, republican and tsar

We hope that the palace coup will end Mikhailovich's influence and replace him with a more pragmatic person who benefits the tsarist faction, since the current situation does not bode well for the tsar.

Lenin should try his luck elsewhere. It seems that the situation in Russia is not in his favour (we want to see Bolshevik France)
Really glad you liked it.
You're correct about Grand Duke Mikhailovich being a "net negative" for the Tsarists. His bloody-mindedness is reasonable, given that the Republicans murdered his wife, but after a certain point it becomes a liability rather than an asset, clouding his strategic vision.

Spot-on about the Finns being the real winners... Regarding the Ottoman Empire, that is certainly a possibility, but things would have to go wrong in the Caucasus first. As of right now, the region is under Tsarist control, and Constantinople is leery of jumping feet first into war with the Romanovs. But if their grip slackened, the Turks would be more likely to move in and establish client states.

Lenin is still sidelined (we WILL hear from him eventually though, promise!) but he's spent a quarter century trying to bring communism to Russia. He can't, won't, stop now...

Yup, but as stated so many times before, Willy was never an absolute monarch, no matter how he tried to act like one. With both Bethmann-Hollweg and von Falkenhayn against him, he'd have to give. That said, I don't think they'd have acted like von Hindenburg and Ludendorff, i.e. cut Willy out of the decision making process and just expect him to sign anything given to him. They'd have been very diplomatic, flattering even, and come out of it with Willy thinking letting Finland stay a republic was his idea i.e. a grand gesture of magnanimity on his part to the Finns.

Willy was never actually stupid, but he was quite gullible (like what happened at the start of the war with von Moltke the Younger).



That would be...surreal, and would make the Russians (and the British) hate the Ottomans even more.



It looks that way, yes. The republicans control most of European Russia, barring a corridor running from Arkhangelsk in the north, to Pskov in the south. Siberia and the Far East are Tsarist territories, though. Also, while the Caucasus and Central Asia are nominally republican supporters, IIRC, it's a similar situation as with Finland. That is, the local nationalists have common ground with the republics for now, but their ambitions go beyond simply ending Tsarist rule and end with their independence.
I think Wilhelm was less gullible and more self-doubting, such that he constantly second-guessed his own judgement which saw him willing to listen to other people's arguments a lot more than his own instincts. (Which, to be fair, do not seem to have been that good, though sometimes they were)
Both of these are really good summings-up of Kaiser Wilhelm and the way he thought. I hope the TL has done a reasonable job of portraying the different facets of his character.
@Jaenera Targaryen you're correct about the division of Russia right now. The Caucasus and Central Asia are de jure under Tsarist control. De facto, things are... tense.

Except for Belarus


Germany was planning that most of the client states that Germany would create would be a constitutional monarchy, especially Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Finland and the Baltic states.


And do not forget that Frederick Charles, the main candidate for the position of the Finnish king, was the son-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm. I do not think that Wilhelm II will simply abandon the idea of the Kingdom of Finland, especially since Finland will receive German investments in it.


The Finns were royalists, and the idea of the monarchy was not canceled until the victory of the allies became inevitable
Regarding Belarusian and Finnish republicanism... it's not a huge deal in Berlin. Unlike OTL, TTL Germany has its new empire to manage. An independent Finland is fine as it weakens Russia, but it's not really a huge concern of theirs unless it begins actively working against their interests. The Kaiser and Paasivuori understand what the other expects, and things are more or less fine. Even Finnish intervention hasn't soured things too much (largely because it was caused by Tsarist aggression)

The British, in their current situation, will try to lure the Ottomans to their side

Because the aim of the British today was to literally destroy Germany and they had no problem getting the German allies (Bulgaria, Austria and the Ottomans) on their side and the Ottomans were more likely to ally with the British due to their small gains

Georgia and Russian Armenia, due to the will of the Ottomans to take it, could not, but with the current situation of Russia, which seemed to be a civil war and the Russians, their relations with the Ottomans were strained for a long time. Time because Russia considered itself the heir of the Byzantines, which made them clash with the Ottomans, the Ottomans would try to take it

The Ottomans could annex Azerbaijan and make Georgia a kingdom with a German prince as their king (or from the original Georgian royal dynasty) while making it an Ottoman protectorate, thus they could create an ally and a buffer state from Russia and Germany was planning to make Prince Joachim of Prussia King of Georgia in agreement with the Ottomans
An Anglo-Turkish rapprochement is not something I'd previously considered, but is interesting. Barring a miracle, geography and historical precedent dictate that Russia and the Ottomans will always be in opposing camps, so whatever impetus for this there is would have to come from London. It's possible if and only if the British decide that a rearmed Russia (Soviet or otherwise) poses a greater threat to their remaining interests in the Middle East (such as their interests in Iran and Afghanistan, or touching off India yet again) than do the Turks. Possible but not likely.

You are correct about the potential for Ottoman client states in the Caucasus... however, Armenia will most definitely not be one of these. The Pashas remain in power, and the Armenian Genocide proceeds apace in TTL 1920 (it is, unfortunately, rapidly approaching a successful conclusion). Aside from those who've fled to the United States or elsewhere, the only Armenians left are those on the Russian side of the border. They will cling loyally to the Tsarists because if they don't, the Turks will happily kill them all.

I would question the assertion that "the aim of the British was to literally destroy Germany", though. Even in OTL 1918, they let the other Allies keep the country intact, and they didn't object too strenuously to forming either the Federal Republic in 1949 or reunification in 1990.
I don't think the Ottomans would turn on the Germans. Even the whole 'no real gains' angle of the war is a blessing in disguise. The Ottomans do not need more troublesome minorities in their empire, and they know it. They've known it for over a century, in fact. The fact they won the war, got a share in reparations payments, the lion's share from the partitioning of the former Russian Black Sea Fleet, and managed to reinforce the crumbling edifice of their empire from all that is enough for them. They've bought time, and from the Ottoman-focused updates in the past, they're actually using it well to reform the empire...with German help.

The Ottomans aren't stupid. They know the British have designs on their empire, and have known it for centuries. That the whole 'Arab Revolt' was transparently a British ploy and backed by British troops in force all the way to the Germans and the Turks routing them in Mesopotamia reinforces this. An alliance with Britain is a poisoned apple, and while German help has a price tag of its own (a leased naval base at Constantinople), at least the Germans don't want to partition their empire. The Germans just want power projection into the Med and the Black Sea, as well as a share in the Mesopotamian oilfields. And they got all those: IIRC, German investors make up the biggest foreign shareholders after the Ottoman government itself in the Ottoman Petroleum Export Company, i.e. TTL's OPEC.

Germany literally has no reason to screw over the Ottomans. Britain has every reason to.
These are really great points.
Germany is definitely the senior partner (no talk of Turkish warships basing in Hamburg, eh?), but it's generally a decent senior partner. And besides, the Turks have no means of striking at the Germans. Neither Bulgaria nor Romania would be willing to join Constantinople in war against Berlin (memories of Hungary's fate loom large). An oil embargo would hurt the Ottomans at least as much as the Germans... and the Germans could retaliate with their own economic warfare, as well as by encouraging the empire's Arabs to cause trouble, or backing the House of Saud in its war against the Rashids.

Regarding Britain... Ottoman control of Cyprus and Kuwait isn't *great*, but everyone has bigger problems right now. Another Anglo-Ottoman War is certainly possible, but it would more than likely be sparked by Constantinople doing something dumb (ie, inciting Islamic resistance to British rule in India, moving against the country's interests in Arabia or Iran, or trying to return Egypt to the motherland). Britain wouldn't likely shoot first.

The Habsburg Empire almost certainly will never turn on Germany. Pan-German sentiments in Cisleithania alone would make even mentioning the notion political suicide. Actually going through with it, and there'd be riots in the streets.
The Habsburgs exist under Germany's security guarantees right now. If Hungary or the Balkans go off again, it'll be German troops pulling the chestnuts from the fire. If Maximilian so much as thought about turning on Germany, there would be a coup d'etat within twenty-four hours.

After what happened to Emperor Saint Carl, Austrians are unlikely to see themselves as Germans


The death of Emperor St. Carl would have such a huge impact on the empire that it could lead to a common identity with the whole of the empire (they might see themselves with the Hungarians, Slavs and Czechs as one people).


And don't forget that the Austrians considered themselves Austrians because of the Habsburgs, and the reason the Austrians considered themselves Germans because of the fall of the Habsburgs is because this dynasty was literally the history of Austria. It was not until after the Second World War that they became Austrians and accepted the republic as their rule


But if Hitler came to power and Otto came of age, we would see a German-Austrian herd.
Austrian self-conception remains kind of weird... on the one hand, they're manifestly German, but on the other, they're part of something much larger.
Pieter M. Judson's The Habsburg Empire (from OTL, of course!) does an excellent job explaining how this dynamic worked before OTL WWI; much of that still applies here.

Speaking of Der Führer, what is Hitler up to ITTL?
IIRC, he was on the Eastern Front during the war this time around. He left the army afterward, actually became a schoolteacher, then got fired for going on a racist, anti-Hungarian spiel in class at a German-Hungarian student. He then rejoined the army, and was last mentioned headed for the Vienna theater.
^^^

The Finns were in general pro-German, but most of them did not cherish the idea of again being ruled by a foreign monarch. This applied to especially the workers and the farmers. Monarchism in 1918-1919 was practically an elite and right wing project.

If you look at the Finnish "rump parliament" of mainly bourgeois parties in 1918-1919, missing the biggest party in Finland (SDP) after (and due to) the civil war, it was pretty much evenly divided between royalists and republicans. Like I said above, the Agrarian League was heavily republican, and the other bourgeois parties were divided over the issue. And this was in conditions where the Germans had more direct influence in Finland than they have ITTL. If the Social Democrats are involved in the political process, republicans would have at least a 65% majority of the Finnish parliament in 1919. Here, the SDP is the leading party in Finland. Paasivuori personally was a republican.
All of this is exactly right. I'd add too, that since ITTL Finland's war of independence evolved out of a general strike (led, obviously, by left wing parties), the Finnish left is seen as rather more nationalistic than the right. But Finland is still fully democratic, and noble conservative landlords have their day in court just like anyone else...

I wonder if the Japanese are going to intervene in Russia I mean the side that they want to win is in full control of Siberia and unless the republican make a comeback in Siberia (what I think is very unlikely) I see no reason for Japan to intervene
and also I only say that because I'm remember someone say that japan were going to intervene in Russia but I can't remember who
I've commented on Japanese intervention before, and it's still likely... but not for some time. The Tsarists control the entire Far East, and that monolith will need to be shaken before Tokyo can commit to war.
We all wish for the survival of the Russian monarchy, but the situation is not in their favor, in addition to the actions of Grand Duke Mikhailovich spoiling things.

There was a proposal to nominate Prince Joachim of Prussia, son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, as King of Georgia (along with the Irish throne) because of Germany's investments in Georgia, but the Nationalists refused and wanted the original dynasty.

Personally I prefer Joachim because he can revive Georgian nationalism given that the old dynasty became Russian nobles and I want to see how Georgia develops (like the Caucasian version of Prussia)
Well, there's no Ireland ITTL (still under British rule), so Joachim could get Georgia if things turn out right there. Either him or Bagration.
If anyone has a right to be Tsar that would be Kornilov and that would be him doing a Napoloeon.

All this monarchy simping though, heres hoping the Republicans win, even if it collapses, it is better that than to live under those who not that long ago held the people as serfs.
A Kornilov dynasty? Now that's a thought....
Or else we could see him play a similar role to the Tsarists as George Monck did to Charles II.

We'll have to see who comes on top!
AFAIK, the Finns are wary of getting too deep in Russia. They just want to buffer their border, and whoever offers them the better deal in the end - whether the Tsarists or the Republicans - will be the ones they ultimately recognize as the legitimate Russian government. Right now, the Finns might be in cahoots with the republicans, but that can change if the Tsarists make a better offer.

Either way, neither are to be truly trusted, so Finland can afford to screw one or the other to secure their own interests. Hell, right now, Perfidious Albion might be more trustworthy than either of the two Russias. At least Britain isn't out to annex Finland the moment the Finns drop their guard.
This is exactly right. The Finns don't trust either-- they're fundamentally out for themselves, first last and always. It's cynical realpolitik, but also completely reasonable. So time will tell what'll go wrong...
Lot of people keep comparing a victorious Russian Republic to Weimar Germany, but that feels like that ignores all the specifics of Weimar destabilization and just assumes an inexpeirenced democracy in the 1920's will just radicalize into Communism or Fascism. But I don't imagine after the civil war that there will be a vindictive entrenched Junker class, an officer corps dominated by supporters of the old regime, and rogue Freikorps type bands. Most of those guys will be killed, imprisoned, or flee Russia in the case of a Republican victory. Plus I doubt Zinoviev (because the forshadowing really seems in favor of him coming out on top over Lenin) will be in a position to pull a KPD like move of teaming up with fascists and reactionary monarchists to take down the social democrats.

That's not to say the Russian Republic could go bad fast. The Republican coaltion could crack quickly and messily after a victory in the civil war. Still I'd say the end result has better odds of ending more like Longist Louisiana or PRI Mexico instead of Weimar Germany.
These are all very good points. Assuming the Republic wins, it will have something of a clean slate- many nobles have already fled abroad as of 1920, and that trend will only increase if the Tsarists are eradicated. While many officers will defect to the winning side regardless of their personal sympathies (as happened in the Chinese Civil War, where many Nationalist commanders happily switched sides to the Communists despite politics), the true hard-line Tsarists will either flee abroad or go down swinging. Unfortunately though, "Friekorps type bands" are more than likely; think of the sustained resistance the OTL Bolsheviks faced for years after winning the Civil War. Regarding Zinoviev, it's... complicated. On the one hand, he's a Bolshevik who genuinely believes in Marxism, etc. On the other... him and Kerensky respect one another, and he's not about to try and overthrow the Republic. He lacks an end-game (but I know where things are taking him!)
I think he's referring to a scenario where the republicans win. That said, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Russia's potential even with the loss of Poland and the Baltics. As we saw with the Soviet Union, it doesn't take much for Russia to bounce back and grow into a superpower. Remember that Russia is the only country aside from China with the potential to match the USA as a superpower for an extended period of time.

In the best case scenario, a Russian republic that manages to industrialize like the Soviets did but manage to avoid the pitfalls the latter fell into would be a colossus. Of course, that's a double-edged sword, as the British might be wondering if it's better to start reconciling with Germany than gamble on Russia. Especially since Imperial Germany isn't really out to rule the world like the Nazis did. Hell, Germany right now is probably...content, having gained East European satellites to buffer their eastern border against Russia, as well as a colonial empire in Africa worth calling one.

If anything, Germany and Britain would have mutual interests in containing a resurgent Russia. Or for that matter, revolutionary France.
All good points. Not much else to add.
I don't see a victorious russian republic being stable enough to pull off a soviet-esque industrialization. They'll industrialize, but nowhere near as well.
It will be more challenging without Joseph Stalin putting a gun to everyone's head but it'll probably result in fewer deaths. Net positive!
I originally had a long post typed up outlining the key events and policy ethoses of the Romanov rulers ITTL from 1801 - 1920, but a computer crash wiped it. So I will summarize:
You wrote all this for my TL? Colour me humbled. To address your points:

I originally had a long post typed up outlining the key events and policy ethoses of the Romanov rulers ITTL from 1801 - 1920, but a computer crash wiped it. So I will summarize:
  • Of the six tsars OTL reigning from 1800 - 1917, not one had a stable transfer of power from one to the next. Paul I was assassinated, with his son seemingly complicit if not intending for death to occur. Alexander I caught sudden illness and died, which coupled with succession uncertainties between Nicholas I and his brother Constantine (plus Alexander's repeated waffling on whether he supported or wanted to quash liberalism) led to an attempted coup by the Decembrist Society amid Nicholas' coronation in 1825. Nicholas himself caught pneumonia amid the end of the Crimean War and seems to have committed suicide by refusing treatment as penance, in spite of this leaving Alexander II to negotiate peace on terrible terms. Alexander II was obviously bombed to death literal hours after approving an extremely primitive constitutional reform for discussion and implementation. Alexander III declined rapidly due to a sudden case of nephritis, leaving the throne to woefully-unprepared Nicholas II. And Nicky stepped down from power only when the situation was so dire for Imperial authority that Mikhail was essentially incapable of stepping in as his successor were he to try.
  • Likewise, governing ethos and attitudes towards role in government varied rapidly from sovereign to sovereign in the last century of the empire. Alexander I started out as a reformist and guarantor of human rights, then bounced between suspicion and amicability towards Napoleon's ideals before Metternich finally convinced him to abandon liberalism entirely; the dissonance in his ideals seems to have contributed substantially to his decline in wellbeing near the end of his life, plus the rollback of most government reformation he accomplished by reactionary court figures as he withdrew from political activity. Nicholas I founded the ideals of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality, and placed Poland under martial law that lasted over thirty years. Alexander II introduced elected local government amid broad liberalization of the economy and educational structures, which then abruptly segued into the muzzling of all these institutions under the rule of his son and the institution of a nation-wide state of emergency which lasted from 1882 until the dissolution of the empire. Nicholas II is the only one who can really be construed as having continued the policies and relative outlook of his predecessor (a strong belief in divinely-ordained absolute rule), but his inclinations were as variable as the figures surrounding and influencing him.
  • A significant factor as to why the empire was able to retain the surface-level veneer of stability that it did through the later decades was through unbelievably harsh suppression of its own population. Alexander III's police state was de jure a temporary set of legal changes, but ended up lasting nearly forty years while granting significant power to the Okhrana and state in suppressing dissidents. Almost every tsar from Nicholas I onward utilized extreme anti-Semitism (the conscription of children into cantonal brigades, banning of settlement outside of cities, the May Laws - another feature of Alexander III which were legally temporary and factually permanent - setting population quotas for inhabitation outside the Pale of Settlement) to shore up appeal from religious figures and unite the population against a bogeyman. Non-Russian language was varyingly suppressed in education and banned from public use entirely, again in every ruling period from Nicholas I's onward.
All this seems like one thing to me: a fundamental lack of modern political culture. Part of this, I think, stems from that part of the Russian tradition which was cut off from "Enlightenment" European thought about systems of government, checks and balances, etc. Without these things influencing it, the Russian Empire's system retained a 'warrior' or 'medieval' aspect, if you like, where power remained concentrated in the hands of a powerful chief or some other figure. This is all well and good, except that as Russia technologically modernised and "joined Europe" after defeating Napoleon... its systems remained antiquated. In Victorian Britain, say, one didn't need to assassinate prime ministers or force out monarchs to affect change because there was a stable rulebook which everyone knew and played by. Not so in Russia. It's a Western cliche, yes, but fear and raw, unapologetic strength has always been the glue of the Russian system, not our fancy Western notions of granting the system itself power, not just those involved in it. Obviously a very quick summary of your detailed points-- and nothing which the POD here alters.

Between the research I did then and my previous studies of Imperial Russian civic and geopolitical history, the image I have obtained was not of a stable if hardline government, but an autocratic system continually embattled against internal dissent and crippled in reform due to an existential need to appease the higher nobility, the centralization of power behind a single autocrat giving court actors undue influence (ex. Archimandrite Photius, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Grigory Rasputin), and an almost hilariously long streak of bad luck targeting reformist tsars. The Russian republican movement has a large number of factors standing between it and stability, but pointing to Tsarist history as an alternative does not produce much contrast. For every proto-fascist or Bolshevik strongman who could creep to power within the Republic's government, there is a court mystic or charismatic Black Hundredist within earshot of the Tsar. In the context of Russian history, the latter has seen even more examples than the first.
...And these are the consequences of underdeveloped political culture in the 20th Century. In a Western state, there's a key difference between threatening the power of systems of government, and threatening the ability of those currently in power to govern. As an example, the difference between advocating for a vote of no confidence or general election to remove an unpopular Prime Minister, and threatening to mount a coup or suspend the national constitution is massive. One is bad for an individual or party; the other potentially menaces the national way of life.

This is connected to your post because of, as you put it, "an existential need to appease the higher nobility, the centralization of power behind a single autocrat giving court actors undue influence". So much of Tsarist Russia's history hangs by a single thread: the individual. Calling for his abdication, or de-centralisation of power to elected authorities via a constitution, because he's done a poor job leading the country, is in such a system for all intents and purposes a threat on the very system. If a monarch "is the state", to call for him to relinquish some power is to call for the state's weakening, period. That's how the Tsars saw things for two centuries, and it's one reason they were so heavy handed: because they sat atop a political structure where the weakest went to the wall and the way to survive was being a man of individual strength and ruthlessness.

Sorry for the rambling post-- but I hope you get my point. Regardless, this was very good and I appreciate you taking the time to write it up.

The current emperor, Andrei I, seems to regard the Constitution with some respect, but currently he is not only a very young figure in a sea of reactionary aristocrats, but de facto subservient to his father - who has expressed interest in removing both the 1906 and 1918 constitutions. Andrei may be the de jure Tsar and fairly charismatic among the soldiery, but his father is a ruthless figure and very much a "my way or the highway" sort of man, going off his conduct with Kirill and the initial agreement to hand the crown to his son. In the event of a Tsarist victory, I don't really know who is better poised to come out on top.
All of this is true. None of it bodes well for the Tsarists.

the original plans for the ussr's industrialization were modified from the Kerensky regime's plans (though the republican plans were far more sane and realistic and more capitalistic in nature) so I don't get why the idea that the republicans couldn't industrialize properly is coming from.
This is important, and bodes well for the Republicans should they win. All I'll say is that no one in the current Republican leadership has Stalin's ruthlessness which (amoral in the extreme though it was), did help force-march the USSR towards industrialisation. A hypothetical Russian Republic is likely to take a 'softer' approach, working with whatever remnants of local power and wealth survive the Civil War, as opposed to killing them all and letting Party cadres have their way.
The Soviets were too focused on heavy industry and most of its industrial sector can't compete with the West commercially. I don't think Kerensky and co. can actually do everything they want to do, but at least they would build the seed for an industrial sector that could compete effectively with the rest of the world, ie. not have the economy be less than California.

PS: will we get a Comintern pact vs Germany and allies for the second weltkreig, and will the US tag in?
I think heavy industry and rearmament here would take precedence, but we'll cross that bridge when we reach it.

The Second Weltkrieg is... All I'll say is that it's closer than you might think, and many of the things I said earlier in the thread have been retconned in my notes. There will be surprises!
Plans don't mean you can put them into effect. I'm not sure how this is hard to follow. The question isn't 'do Kerensky and Co Plan to industrialize' the question is 'will their grip on Russia be strong enough for them to even do as much as Stalin did'. I think the answer is no. we'll find out one way or another when @Kaiser Wilhelm the Tenth gets that far, if Kerensky and Co even do win.
As you say, time will tell. And the Tsarists could well win, making it all moot...
The problem with the Russian government at this point is that both options are awful. The Tsarists have become an echo chamber for the Grand Duke's revenge fantasies and incompetent sycophants, all while would-be Tsar Andrei is surrounded by people who likely are not fond of any government aside from "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality," even if they aren't Black Hundreds-level of extreme. After all, most of the liberals have at this point decamped for the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans are divided between authoritarian far-left types like the Bolsheviks, authoritarian left-leaning types like Kerensky, and a smattering of liberals. The peasants are rebelling and will likely demand serious concessions in exchange for their aid, all the while.
As for industrialization, I can't imagine anything worse in policy than the OTL Bolshevik efforts, but Russia is likely to remain poorer than the rest of the Congress of Europe for some time. Unless the Bolsheviks completely take over (a direction I don't think this TL will be taking), either Kerensky or the Tsarists will make larger efforts at industrialization, but in a way similar to that of Francoist Spain's economic progression - fueled by foreign investment near the capital and St. Petersburg, with the rural areas being hollowed out and with poor conditions for workers. Hopefully, whatever government takes power recognizes that they can't completely exclude the needs of labor, but considering the options, I rather doubt they will.
All of this is 100% correct. A really good analysis of where things stand right now. Neither side, contrary to their propaganda, has much of an idea of how to improve the country beyond a few slogans- Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality on the one hand and Peace, Bread, and Land on the other.

The Tsarists regally fucked up in 1918 with the murder of Tsar Michael, who might well have prevented the whole Civil War from breaking out (or at least conducted it better than what we see now). Mikhailovich is simply not the man for this job. In a certain sense, I feel pity for him- his wife gone, country collapsing, forced into a position he never truly wanted- but that's not going to win. And even military victory wouldn't solve the structural issues which caused the war. An intelligent, careful, yet meaningful, sequence of reforms would do the trick... but at that point you're just back to Michael's Constitution.

The Republicans are a big-tent movement, with the different factions you pointed out. Those differences are kind of submerged right now because there's a war on, but that doesn't make them any less real. For example: how does one have Lavr Kornilov and Vladimir Lenin at least nominally on the same side? Much like OTL's Whites, they agree on almost nothing except that the enemy is awful. Now, that might help win a war, but it's no basis for nation-building. Should the Republicans win, they'll have to confront these issues head on: something which will take time, soul-searching, and oh yeah, lives and treasure.

No real way out for either side.

Belaya armiya, chorny baron...

A shame to see Brusilov go; it stands to reason he will find commemoration for his competence ITTL as well as OTL. Yet his replacement being Tukhachevsky of all people makes for a fascinating twist in the story, both in terms of what it could mean for future Republican politics and in terms of the military action to come. If nothing else, the Red Napoleon squaring up against the Black Baron certainly a personality battle for the ages. It seems he came out on top here, but time will tell whether his prescient strategic mindset or his famous overaggression will define his part in the war more.

Budyonny did as can be expected to do, in so doing giving the Tsarists a fine new chance to act in the Caucasus and Pontic Steppe. This is roughly within Antonov's sphere of activity; given the renewed Republican presence on this front, one wonders whether he will take the opportunity to distinguish himself. I would reckon the outside world sees how much is at stake here, given that Baku was in this timeframe one of the world's most important centers of oil production. Given the resource importance and demographic characteristics of the area, it certainly smells like a good time for the Ottomans to intervene if they wish to do so.
I listened to that and I must say, while I abhor communism in all of its forms... that was pretty awesome. Did you see the mournful White Russian song in the video description?

Yeah, a shame indeed! He was a good commander... he tried to do his best in both OTL and TTL's Great War but didn't quite make it. Being killed by the enemy like that will hopefully afford him a quasi-martyr status, which will be good for his legacy. Tukhachevsky, though, is someone more in tune with modern means of fighting. I doubt Brusilov could've handled Wrangel's army that way, for example.

Budyonny made a hash of things, in time-honoured fashion.
Antonov remains in Moscow... Tukhachevsky doesn't want any silly bloody peasants interfering with the grain supply. Remember that in OTL, IIRC, Tukhachevsky and Antonov clashed in the Tambov uprising.

Regarding Baku: all eyes are on them indeed. As I mentioned above, the Ottomans aren't quite ready to go in yet but that may well change.
The grandfather of deep battle is now the Republican supreme commander. If the smart money wasn't on them before, it is now.
Well noted! Though I will say that 1920 is a bit early for deep battle theory to be properly finalised... but give Tukhachevsky time and money, and we should get something similar.

I see Budyonny is as much of an idiot as ever. Will he win the war for the Tsarists here, much like he won the war for the Poles IOTL? I can't believe I'm saying this, but that man makes Lakeitel or even that idiot Jodl look like tactical geniuses.
Budyonny is the General Melchett of the Soviet military, both OTL and TTL. Reading about his fucking up the Kiev pocket in autumn 1941 makes me shake my head every time. I really tried to portray him here as one of those old-fashioned generals who can't grasp that the times have changed... and men go to their graves for it. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

On the other hand, considering his role in the OTL Great Purge, a republican victory could lead to a similar bloodbath that sees anyone with so much as a hint of royalist sympathies murdered. That, or he spearheads a double-cross of the Finns, invading Finland and provoking an Anglo-German intervention that sees German battleships bombarding Petrograd/British battleships bombarding Murmansk and Odessa/German and Swedish troops marching across Lapland/British tanks rumbling down Helsinki's streets/Japanese battleships bombarding Vladivostok.
We'll have to see about all that. Time will tell!

Thanks, as always, to all of you for commenting.
 
Budyonny is the General Melchett of the Soviet military, both OTL and TTL. Reading about his fucking up the Kiev pocket in autumn 1941 makes me shake my head every time. I really tried to portray him here as one of those old-fashioned generals who can't grasp that the times have changed... and men go to their graves for it. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
That seems very fitting description. I think of him as von Blücher in his mindset, just totally lacking in, you know, competency as a general.
 
Y'know if the Republicans do come up, since they won't go Stalin tier industralising. I could see the Republicans arming various anti german groups and using spies rather than full scale reclaiming in their lost territory.

Oh no, how terrivle that we lost these crates of arms fo Nestor Mahkno, what a fiend!
 
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