This, then, was the situation in the Far East in June, 1919. As I was leaving Vladivostok I heard that the Red forces that had been organised in the American neutral zones had at last boldly attacked their protectors. If this was correct, it may be the reason why Admiral Koltchak was able to report their defeat and rout over the Chinese border and we were back again at the point at which British and Czech co-operation had arrived a year previously.
Before we decide our policy as to withdrawal or otherwise from Russia it is necessary to know whether we have contracted any obligations to the Russian people, and what is the nature of such obligations, if any. Are they moral, military, or political?
Towards the end of 1914, when our army had been driven back behind the Marne and the future of Europe and our Empire was in the balance, frantic appeals were made by British statesmen, and even by still more august authority, asking Russia to rush to our aid and save us from destruction. This appeal was backed by British public and Labour opinion, and through our Press made a profound impression upon the Russian people. The Russian Government, regardless of their best military advice, forced their partially mobilised legions to make a rapid flying raid into East Prussia, which immediately reduced the pressure upon our own armies and made the victory of the Marne possible. Hurriedly mobilised, imperfectly equipped, not too brilliantly led, these legions, constituting the chivalry of Russia, became the prey of Prussia’s perfect military machine. The Russian Government never dared to tell the Russian peasant the number of Russian souls who were mutilated by high explosives and smothered in the cold Masurian marshes in that sublime effort to save her friends. Russia lost as many men in saving Paris during that raid as did all the other Allies in the first year of the war.
Russia continued to fight and mobilise until 1917, by which time she had collected a huge army of over twelve million men. The Hohenzollern dynasty and its military advisers came to the conclusion that it would soon be impossible to stem this human tide by ordinary military means, and having a complete understanding of Russian psychology through its dynastic and administrative agents, decided to undermine the moral of the Russian people. German “Black Books” were not employed against British leaders exclusively. We need not wonder at the rapid spread among Russians of suspicion against their civil and military leaders when we remember that the same sort of propaganda admittedly influenced the administration of justice in England. The people of Russia were true to their friends, demoralisation and decomposition began at the head, rapidly filtering down to the lowest strata of society.
If the Allied cause was deserted, it was the desertion of a ruling class, not of a people or its army. German treachery wormed its way in at the top, and so destroyed a great race it never could have conquered.