A Russian Winter Beckons

In recent days, there has been positive news about Ukraine’s defence of its national integrity, despite Putin’s illegal annexation of captured land. Progress is due to the extraordinary courage of ordinary Ukrainian men and women who are serving on the front line, but a key contribution has been provided by the military assistance from NATO countries, including British missiles, guns, equipment and training. It is all uncannily similar to the support provided at the end of WWI to the White Government in Omsk, led by Admiral Kolchak, except in one very important respect.

In 1919, Britain had 4,000 troops in Siberia, including two infantry battalions (Middlesex Diehards and Hampshire Tigers), a Royal Marine combat team that provided support along the River Kama, a Royal Horse Artillery fire support team, three capital ships (HMS Carlisle, HMS Kent and HMS Suffolk), a medical mission that helped tackle the Typhus epidemic and a railway mission that transported millions of pounds worth of arms and equipment to the front line. This contingent was part of a force of 170,000 thousand European, American and Japanese soldiers bolstering the White Army, which was fighting the Bolsheviks. In today’s war, there are plenty of foreign politicians cheering from the touchline, but very few countries have committed “boots on the ground”.

The big test is about to come. A Russian winter can change everything as Napoleon and Hitler discovered. It will be fascinating to see whether the fighting pauses, or whether a new offensive is launched as in October 1919. Read more about the similarities between the current war in Ukraine and the war in Siberia in Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners.

Russian Winter Camouflage

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