When did the Russian civil war end causes Historical context

Russian civil war

Armed conflict between the Bolshevik government and the White Movement. In this article we will let you know When did the Russian civil war end?

Date 1917-1923.
Place Russia.
Belligerents Bolshevik government vs. White Movement.
Outcome Victory of the Bolshevik government.

The Russian Civil War ( 1917 –  1923) was an armed conflict between the Bolshevik government and the conservative and nationalist forces, which formed the White Movement . It was made up of soldiers from the former tsarist army, pro-monarchical sectors related to the Russian Orthodox Church and socialists who opposed the revolution , including the Mensheviks .

To fight against the Red Army , created by the Bolsheviks, the whites formed the White Army , which was supported by Ukrainian nationalists, Cossacks, Turkish atamans and by foreign troops sent by Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, Czechoslovakia and other European countries.

Although the most intense fighting took place between 1918 and 1920, the military operations lasted until June 17, 1923 , when the Red Army occupied the port of Ayán, on the Pacific coast, which was the last stronghold of the forces. white.

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Historic context

At the outbreak of World War I , in 1914 Russian Tsar Nicholas II had promised that the conflict against the central empires would be brief and triumphant. However, after the initial victories, defeats followed, the war dragged on and a severe economic crisis broke out .

At the beginning of 1917 many Russian soldiers, tired of fighting, began to desert . Meanwhile, factory workers in the city of Petrograd were staging strikes and women were demonstrating in the streets demanding peace, bread and the right to vote .

In March 1917, the tsar abdicated and was replaced by a provisional government headed by a moderate socialist, Alexander Kérensky . However, the new government disappointed the expectations of the people as it decided to continue the war.

In October 1917, the provisional government was overthrown by a revolution led by the Bolsheviks , who were a faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party. Once in power, the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, abolished private land ownership, nationalized banks and industries and signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk , which in March 1918 ended Russia’s participation in the First World War.

The adoption of these measures provoked the reaction of nationalist , conservative and  pro-monarchical sectors , which organized to end the Bolshevik revolution.

Development of the Russian civil war

The civil conflict, which developed on 3 simultaneous fronts (East, South and Northwest), can be divided into 3 phases:

  • Initial phase (late 1917-18) : began with the uprising of the Cossacks in the Don region, in the south; which were later joined by anti-Bolshevik groups from Siberia. These were supported by a multinational intervention force that landed in Vladivostok. Little by little, conservative and nationalist governments were being formed in various cities of Russia. In September 1918, all the anti-Bolshevik governments formed a provisional government; however, in November, Admiral Kolchak led a coup after which he proclaimed himself the supreme ruler of Russia.
  • Intermediate phase (1919-20) : characterized by fierce fighting between the whites, who advanced towards Petrograd and Moscow; and the Red Army created by Trotsky, who managed to stop them. Kolchak tried to flee, but was arrested and executed by the Bolsheviks. Baron Wrangel rallied the surviving white troops and fortified himself in the Crimea, where he resisted the onslaught of the Red Army until the late 1920s, when he fled to Istanbul.
  • Final phase (1921-23) : after the defeat of the whites, the international intervention force evacuated Russia. The main resistance against the Bolsheviks then came from the sailors of the Kronstadt naval fortress (February-March 1921) and from peasant rebellions who opposed agricultural collectivization. The main ones were those of Tambod (August 1920-June 1922) and Yakutia (September 1921-June 1923), during which the Bolsheviks occupied the ports of Vladivostok and Ayán, the last centers of counterrevolutionary resistance.

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Causes and consequences of the Russian civil war


The main causes of the Russian civil war were the following:

  • The seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, who overthrew the Russian provisional government in October 1917.
  • The opposition of nationalist forces, conservative and pro-monarchical sectors, to the reforms carried out by the Bolshevik government.
  • The support provided by Japan, the United States, France, Great Britain and other nations of Europe to the White Movement. This support was based on the fear that the Russian revolution would be the prelude to a world communist revolution.


Among the consequences of the Russian civil war, the following can be mentioned:

  • The defeat of the White Movement , whose surviving leaders had to go into exile to save their lives.
  • The triumph of the Bolshevik government , which consolidated itself in power and constituted the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union , in 1922.
  • The repression by the Bolsheviks of the independence movements that in 1918 had triumphed in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. These republics were forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union.
  • The independence of Poland , Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, which until 1918 had been part of the Russian Empire.
  • The arrests, murders and forced transfers to Siberia of relatives and supporters of the White Movement.
  • The confiscation of the assets of the Russian Orthodox Church, which supported the White Movement.
  • The consolidation of the Red Army , which had its baptism of fire in the First World War but was fired in the fight against the White Army.
  • The deaths of about 9 million people, of which 1 million died from collateral effects of the war, such as the famines of 1921 and 1922.
  • The exile of approximately one million Russians who escaped war, famine, and political persecution.
  • The stagnation of the economy , due to the issuance of paper money without backing, the fall in industrial production and the decrease in the cultivated area. To overcome the crisis, the Bolshevik government launched the New Economic Policy (NEP), which lasted until 1928, when it was replaced by the first five-year plan, promoted by Stalin.

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