February 9, 1904 - the date of the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War. Why is it relevant to us today, more than a century later? First of all, because that day marked the beginning of not one armed conflict, but a whole series of wars, the last of which, as everyone knows, has not been officially completed to this day. Yes, yes - the disputes around the Kuril Islands, the endless demarches of the Land of the Rising Sun and the problems arising from this - all this originates in that February day, far from us.
In addition, the events that will be discussed below ended in defeat for our country, which is not so much a difficult military-strategic defeat as one of the most shameful in its entire history. We must remember this too - so as not to repeat the mistakes of our own ancestors.
"Little victorious war ..."
Yes, yes - these words, which long ago turned into one of the most common and worn-out quotes by their author, the then Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Vyacheslav von Plehve attributed precisely to the clash with Japan, to which the authorities of the Russian Empire were rushing in full sail, clearly not realizing, with whom and with what they will have to deal in reality. However, let's not get ahead of ourselves and start, as expected, from the beginning. It must be admitted that the confrontation between St. Petersburg and Tokyo was predetermined, so to speak, by the natural course of things. The two empires, with the Far East in front of them with its enormous riches and opportunities, in the realities of the beginning of the twentieth century could not pass by. After the so-called "Meiji Restoration", in fact, ending the feudal fragmentation of the country, Japan, in the most literal sense of the word, rushed from the Middle Ages to the present, experiencing a period of unprecedented rise. Having carried out the modernization of industry at home, the creation of a modern army and its rearmament, the former samurai began to look around with bad interest, wondering what to grab it first. In Tokyo, it was quite rightly believed that an empire that does not lead external expansion is not an empire at all, but some kind of geopolitical misunderstanding.
Korea was the first to turn up to the Japanese. Well, and at the same time - China too ... Nevertheless, Russia had its own views for a long time and firmly in these regions. Initially, she was lucky that Paris and Berlin did not want an overly dramatic increase in Tokyo. The so-called "triple intervention", in fact, limited only to the advancement of a formidable ultimatum, forced the Japanese to slow down for a while. Trying to resist the combined forces of Russia, Germany and France would be sheer suicide for them.
Nevertheless, the conflict with Japan was only a matter of time for our country. Was it possible not to fight? Well, in principle, yes ... Only for this Russia would have to completely withdraw from the Asian region. And then, you see, and part with their own territories in the Far East (as subsequent events showed, the appetites of Tokyo had exactly such volumes). With what joy did we have to give the samurai Port Arthur, Sakhalin, the same Kuril Islands, and even the Chinese-Eastern Railway in addition? However, continuing to advance to the East, the Russian authorities (and at that time it was specifically Emperor Nicholas II Romanov and his cabinet) should intensively, stubbornly, purposefully prepare for war. And to do this, if possible, at the fastest pace, and not wait for the weather by the sea, without doing anything concrete, as it happened in reality. The Japanese were preparing with might and main - after the slap in the face from the Germans and the French, who, in their opinion, supported the Russians at the wrong time, the samurai made wonderful new friends, who only dreamed of how to spoil our country, but more seriously.
This is, of course, about the British. The entire "color" of the Japanese navy, in particular the 12 battleships that so dashingly sunk our ships under the same Tsushima, were built by them. Moreover, a very specific military alliance was concluded between Tokyo and London. In case of interference in the conflict between Japan and a third country of any other power, London entered the matter. Subsequently, this led to the fact that the frightened French, who had a similar agreement with our country, did not lift a finger to help it when the guns started talking in the Far East.
"The sovereign will deign to think ..."
Sensible people in Russia, professionals of military affairs and diplomacy, two decades before the start of the "little victorious" dreaming of some in St. Petersburg, they perfectly understood what it would result in. The chief of the Russian General Staff, Adjutant General Nikolai Obruchev in 1895 tried to convey to His Majesty the idea that the war, which had unfolded “tens of thousands of miles”, through which literally every cartridge would have to be delivered to its theater, and the enemy in which would be “ cultural and industrialized country ”will not end well for Russia. Russian Finance Minister Sergei Witte was of the same opinion, believing that provoking Tokyo into an open conflict was the height of recklessness. However, who would listen to them ?! Sovereign Nikolai Alexandrovich and the “clever people” around him considered the Japanese “yellow-faced macaques”, which should not be taken into account at all.
The most interesting thing is that fate once already sent a warning to the Emperor - in 1891, while still in the status of heir to the Russian throne, he was almost killed by one of the local police officers who turned out to be a samurai. The reason for the assassination attempt was, as the attacker himself, Tsuda Sanzo, said, "the disrespect shown by foreign guests (in addition to Nicholas, the Greek Prince George was also present there) to the emperor of Japan and its national shrines." The fact that Nikolai, having broken into a Shinto temple, began to bang on the bells with a stick is most likely complete nonsense (after all, he was not a savage). However, the fact that both he and his Greek companion entered the shrine without removing their shoes is recorded in history. And this is a cleaner insult for the Japanese than for our believers - a man who stormed into an Orthodox church in a hat and with a cigarette in his mouth.
In a word, the lesson that disregard for Japan and its people can cost a lot, Nikolai did not go for the future. Ultimately, in his entourage, a group of people prevailed, believing that if something happened, we would shower the "macaques" with hats. And they will not dare ... The first violin in this insane ensemble was played by Alexander Bezobrazov, a member of the special committee for the affairs of the Far East. It was through his efforts, contrary to the objections of the Minister of Finance, the heads of the military and diplomatic departments, that Russia stopped the withdrawal of its troops from Manchuria - contrary to the agreement she had signed with China earlier. Moreover, the introduction of additional military contingents and preparations for the construction of defensive structures were begun. It is clear that this affected the Japanese like the notorious red rag on a bull ...
To say that the war was caused exclusively by "aggressive policies and the imperial aspirations of Tokyo ”would be at least incorrect. Russia began the transfer of army units to the Far East, created its own governorship and the Amur general governorship there in 1903. So the samurai had very real reasons to be nervous. The problem, however, was that, while pursuing such a policy, no one thought to prepare for real military operations in St. Petersburg! Yes, the Trans-Siberian Railway was built specifically to meet the challenges of military-strategic logistics. It was built to build it, but as usual with us, with a "tiny" flaw - without a site around Lake Baikal. In the end, that cargo, that people across the lake had to be transported by ferries. This, of course, reduced the throughput of the highway and the speed of movement along it at times. However, the problems were far from limited to poor transport links.
"Nobody wants mercy ..."
The General Staff of the Russian Army, whose intelligence worked conscientiously, all in the same 1903, when the "ugly people", with the approval of Nicholas, began to bite the bit to "shake" the situation in Manchuria, reported extremely disturbing things to the Emperor. According to his calculations, it turned out that Japan was already completely ready for war - the army was rearmed and mobilized, the fleet was replenished with new warships and was also eager to fight. The predecessors of Richard Sorge of Tsarist times even managed to predict with maximum accuracy the date of the beginning of hostilities. And what about His Imperial Majesty? Well, yes - the highest commanded to prepare ... As far as is known, plans were drawn up, and not in one version. And the sailors tried, and the "ground", and staff officers, and field generals. However, none of these extremely detailed plans were never implemented. Yes, they were doing something, puffing, fussing - but out of tune, out of place, each in his own way.
In the end, it turned out that by February 9, the situation did not even fit into the sacramental "it was smooth on paper, but they forgot about the ravines." Nothing was clearly outlined on paper either. About the stupid command, the ships, as it turned out, were not suitable for British battleships under Japanese flags, about the shells from which exploded during the same Tsushima, God forbid, every third, and there is nothing to say. All this, in spite of the unparalleled heroism and courage of the Russian soldiers, quite naturally ended in defeat. It is all the more shameful that Russia lost this war to a country three times inferior to it in terms of population, many times behind in terms of the size of the army, economic and resource potential. However, with the size of the armed forces in more than a million "bayonets" in peacetime and four times more, taking into account the reservists, in the Far East, at the beginning of the war, Russia actually had a contingent of one hundred and fifty thousand people, a maximum. At the same time, almost half of the personnel were involved in border protection.
The transfer of reinforcements, as well as the supply of the active army, faced colossal problems in connection with the reasons I set out somewhat above. The transfer of ships to the Far East from the Baltic Fleet - around the whole of Europe and Africa, in addition, it is better not to remember - is a separate topic, and a very painful one ... It is not surprising that the patriotic upsurge that first engulfed Russia quickly subsided and was replaced by misunderstanding and anger, which resulted in the first Russian revolution of 1905. The one that Plehve thought to "contain", indulging Bezobrazov and company ... Generally speaking, economic and Japan's human losses as a result of this war exceeded ours, and quite significantly. However, on a global scale, both military-strategic and geopolitical, Russia suffered an incomparably greater defeat. And one of the very big problems of our country for many decades was the samurai, who had hammered into their heads that the Russians could be beaten, and from that moment they just waited until it would be possible to chop off the land right all the way to the Urals. Attempts were made both in Civic and later.
The foolishness of the envious Japanese imperialists was kicked out by Comrade Stalin, whose generals so sensitively slapped them on the cap at Khasan and on Khalkhin Gol that later these "conquerors" throughout the Great Patriotic War sat quietly, like mice. It was not Nikolai for you - Marshal Blucher, who ruined the defense of the Far East, was shot without any discount for former military merits and began to strengthen this line so that the Japanese were afraid even to stick their heads - until we ourselves came to them in 1945. And there is no other way with them, otherwise someone, God forbid, will have to repeat the feat of "Varyag" again.
Judging by how the borders of our Motherland in the Far East are being strengthened and strengthened today, both the Kremlin and Shoigu's department are well aware of this. Very correct - after all, based on the incessant claims to the Kuril Islands, some in Tokyo still live with nostalgic memories of that old war that began on February 9, 1904.