The German Intervention of 1918 on the Eastern Boarder of Russia (the Bryansk Region Case)

Lannik L.V.


The fighting on the Eastern Front of the WWI resumed on February 18, 1918, after the breakdown of the talks, and did not end after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed. All this resulted in the expansion of the German zone of occupation on a number of territories that the Central Powers acknowledged as belonging to the Soviet Russia, this including the Bryansk area. Until now, the Eastern campaign of 1918 has not received any detailed coverage, which was due not only to the scarcity of sources but also to the political conjuncture characteristic to the previous stages of our historiography. It’s only after there came into use some little-known German military literature and a number of traditional interpretations of the history of the Russian Civil War were revised that an opportunity appeared, at least in part, to fill in the lacuna. As a consequence of hostilities between the German-Ukrainian troops and the Red Guard army from the late March to the middle of April, 1918, a part of the Bryansk region, for a period of 6–9 months, was occupied by the Germans. The geographical position of the Bryansk region underpinned its importance as a borderland between Soviet Russia and Ukraine, also bringing into play the Polish and Belarusian factors. The characteristic features of the Brest treaty produced a situation in which control over that exact area played a key role both for the international relations and, in perspective, for the formation of the Red Аrmy troops on the future Western front of Russian Civil War. It also nourished hopes for the eventual revision of the Brest Peace Treaty. The German occupants were interested in a lasting control over the Sub-Dnepr region and Kiev, while the Ukrainian nationalists – in expansion their borders to the North East. All this drove escalation of hostilities even after the active phases of the war ended in May of 1918.


campaign of 1918; the East Front; the German intervention of 1918; the First Occupation; Bryansk region; the Brest peace treaty.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.03.02

Download text