Rafael Ishkhanyan on the Historically Criminal Russian Policy Towards Armenians

Rafael Ishkhanyan

We present to your attention an excerpt from the work of Rafael Ishkhanyan “Torn-apart Armenia.”

“Look at the map of the South Caucasus. You will immediately notice that Armenia is two and a half or three times smaller than Georgia and Azerbaijan. Not only is it smaller, but it is also “gnawed” from all sides, torn to pieces. This has its own story. We will not go very far into the past.

Since the spring of 1915, in Western Armenia and throughout Turkey, Armenians were destroyed or exiled right before the eyes of the powerful Russian army. The Turkish army was fragmented, but the Russian troops waited and did not advance.

When Western Armenia lost its Armenian population, only then did the Russian army quietly seize the territory of Armenia without Armenians. Armenians survived only in Van, but they would also be evicted and expelled from their native land.

The tsarist government did not allow the surviving Western Armenian refugees to return to their homes and instead settled the empty lands with Russian Cossacks. After the February Revolution of 1917, some of the surviving Western Armenians returned to their homeland, but after the October Revolution, when the Russian army began to withdraw from the Turkish front and the Armenians could no longer resist the Turkish onslaught, the Armenian population again left Western Armenia.

On March 3, 1918, as a result of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, the entire Western Armenia and part of Eastern Armenia – the Kars district – were given to Turkey. At the end of May 1918 in Sardarapat and Aparan, the Armenians finally stopped the Turkish offensive.

They stopped the enemy advance because they were alone and did not rely on anyone from other nations and countries.

On May 28, the Republic of Armenia was established in a territory of about 12 thousand square kilometers. After the joint defeat of Germany and Turkey, Armenia annexed the Kars district and Surmalu. Refugees returned to these areas.

Azerbaijan considered Zangezur, Nakhichevan, and Artsakh to be its territories. Between Armenians and Azerbaijanis began military clashes over these lands.

Georgia considered Lori and Javakhk their own lands, as a result of which the war for Lori began between Georgians and Armenians in 1918. Armenians occupied Lori, and a neutral zone was created. As a result, in 1920, the southern part of Lori (at least that much) became part of Soviet Armenia.

Azerbaijan was unable to annex Artsakh, Zangezur, and Nakhichevan. The struggle continued. And when the Russian army entered Baku, the first demand for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from Artsakh, Zangezur, and Nakhichevan was addressed to Armenia.

Turkish troops armed with Russian weapons launched an offensive in the Kars region, demanding the implementation of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. Artsakh did not pass to Azerbaijan, although it did not unite with Armenia either.

Zangezur resisted until the summer of 1921, and thanks of this, it became part of Soviet Armenia. Under the Moscow Treaty of 1921, the Kars region was given to Turkey in accordance with the terms of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.

At the request of Turkey, Nakhichevan was given to Azerbaijan. Sharur was torn off from Armenia and attached to Nakhichevan. Surmalu, which had never been a Turkish land, was given to Turkey in exchange for Batumi.

In 1921, the Artsakh issue was discussed in Tiflis, and although it was decided that the region was an integral part of Armenia, an order came from Moscow, and, without any new discussion, Artsakh was transferred to Azerbaijan.”

David Fidanyan

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