Signed on March 3, 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was the agreement by which Russia dropped out of World War I, granting large concessions to Germany. Breat-Litovsk was signed by a Bolshevik delegation lead by Leon Trotsky and members of the Quadruple Alliance, which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. The treaty was extremely tough on the Russians, as they had virtually no leg to stand on during negotiations. The treaty allowed Germany to concentrate all of its forces on the western front for the duration of the war. It allowed Russia to focus on its ever-worsening civil war.

Many factors contributed to the weakness in the Russian position. By 1917, the Russian army was in complete disarray. Those troops sent to the front were often poorly trained and many went into battle without a rifle. Morale was extremely poor. There were frequent cases of mutiny and fraging. The army was in retreat on virtually the entire front and it was only a matter of time before the Germans would capture the capital, St. Petersburg, which had recently been renamed Petrograd.

Further complicating matters was the successful Bolshevik revolution that sent Russia into disorder. The fledgling republican government of Alexander Kerensky was deposed on November 7, 1917, and a new Soviet government headed by Vladimir Lenin took its place. One of the Bolsheviks' first aims was to pull Russia out of the war.

On the December 3, 1917, a conference was begun between the Central Powers and Russia. Trotsky had the difficult task of trying to end Russian participation in the First World War without having to grant territory to the Central Powers. By employing delaying tactics Trotsky hoped that socialist revolutions would spread from Russia to Germany and Austria-Hungary before he had to sign the treaty.

After nine weeks of discussions without agreement, the German Army was ordered to resume its advance into Russia. On March 3, 1918, with German troops moving towards Petrograd, Lenin ordered Trotsky to accept the German terms. The new terms, however, were even harsher than those first proposed. The Brest-Litovsk treaty forced the Russians to recognize the independence of Ukraine, Georgia, and Finland. Russia was also made to give up Poland, the Baltic states, and part of what is now Belarus to Germany and Austria-Hungary. Further territories ceded were Kars, Ardahan, and Batum, which went to the Ottomans. Germany even demanded that Russia pay huge reparations for the war.

All this would be for naught, however. The general armistice of November 11, 1918, forced Germany to renounce the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Seizing the opportunity, Russia declared it null and void. The western frontiers of Russia were later agreed upon by a series of separate treaties. Despite this, much of the territory lost by Russia would not be recovered until the dawn of World War II, with the Nazi-Soviet Pact that carved up Poland between the two.



Here is a copy of the actual articles of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk courtesy of http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918/brestlitovsk.html.

Article I. Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey, for the one part, and Russia, for the other part, declare that the state of war between them has ceased. They are resolved to live henceforth in peace and amity with one another.

Article II. The contracting parties will refrain from any agitation or propaganda against the Government or the public and military institutions of the other party. In so far as this obligation devolves upon Russia, it holds good also for the territories occupied by the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance.

Article III. The territories lying to the west of the line agreed upon by the contracting parties which formerly belonged to Russia, will no longer be subject to Russian sovereignty; the line agreed upon is traced on the map submitted as an essential part of this treaty of peace. The exact fixation of the line will be established by a Russo-German commission. No obligations whatever toward Russia shall devolve upon the territories referred to, arising from the fact that they formerly belonged to Russia. Russia refrains from all interference in the internal relations of these territories. Germany and Austria-Hungary purpose to determine the future status of these territories in agreement with their population.

Article IV. As soon as a general peace is concluded and Russian demobilization is carried out completely Germany will evacuate the territory lying to the east of the line designated in paragraph 1 of Article III, in so far as Article IV does not determine otherwise. Russia will do all within her power to insure the immediate evacuation of the provinces of eastern Anatolia and their lawful return to Turkey. The districts of Erdehan, Kars, and Batum will likewise and without delay be cleared of the russian troops. Russia will not interfere in the reorganization of the national and international relations of these districts, but leave it to the population of these districts, to carry out this reorganization in agreement with the neighboring States, especially with Turkey.

Article V. Russia will, without delay, carry out the full demobilization of her army inclusive of those units recently organized by the present Government. Furthermore, Russia will either bring her warships into russian ports and there detain them until the day of the conclusion of a general peace, or disarm them forthwith. Warships of the States which continue in the state of war with the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance, in so far as they are within Russian sovereignty, will be treated as Russian warships. The barred zone in the Arctic Ocean continues as such until the conclusion of a general peace. In the Baltic sea, and, as far as Russian power extends within the Black sea, removal of the mines will be proceeded with at once. Merchant navigation within these maritime regions is free and will be resumed at once. Mixed commissions will be organized to formulate the more detailed regulations, especially to inform merchant ships with regard to restricted lanes. The navigation lanes are always to be kept free from floating mines.

Article VI. Russia obligates herself to conclude peace at once with the Ukrainian People's Republic and to recognize the treaty of peace between that State and the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance. The Ukrainian territory will, without delay, be cleared of Russian troops and the Russian Red Guard. Russia is to put an end to all agitation or propaganda against the Government or the public institutions of the Ukrainian People's Republic. Esthonia and Livonia will likewise, without delay, be cleared of Russian troops and the Russian Red Guard. The eastern boundary of Esthonia runs, in general along the river Narwa. The eastern boundary of Livonia crosses, in general, lakes Peipus and Pskow, to the southwestern corner of the latter, then across Lake Luban in the direction of Livenhof on the Dvina. Esthonia and Livonia will be occupied by a German police force until security is insured by proper national institutions and until public order has been established. Russia will liberate at once all arrested or deported inhabitants of Esthonia and Livonia, and insures the safe return of all deported Esthonians and Livonians. Finland and the Aaland Islands will immediately be cleared of Russian troops and the Russian Red Guard, and the Finnish ports of the Russian fleet and of the Russian naval forces. So long as the ice prevents the transfer of warships into Russian ports, only limited forces will remain on board the warships. Russia is to put an end to all agitation or propaganda against the Government or the public institutions of Finland. The fortresses built on the Aaland Islands are to be removed as soon as possible. As regards the permanent non- fortification of these islands as well as their further treatment in respect to military technical navigation matters, a special agreement is to be concluded between Germany, Finland, Russia, and Sweden; there exists an understanding to the effect that, upon Germany's desire, still other countries bordering upon the Baltic Sea would be consulted in this matter.

Article VII. In view of the fact that Persia and Afghanistan are free and independent States, the contracting parties obligate themselves to respect the political and economic independence and the territorial integrity of these states.

Article VIII. The prisoners of war of both parties will be released to return to their homeland. The settlement of the questions connected therewith will be effected through the special treaties provided for in Article XII.

Article IX. The contracting parties mutually renounce compensation for their war expenses, i.e., of the public expenditures for the conduct of the war, as well as compensation for war losses, i.e., such losses as were caused by them and their nationals within the war zones by military measures, inclusive of all requisitions effected in enemy country.

Article X. Diplomatic and consular relations between the contracting parties will be resumed immediately upon the ratification of the treaty of peace. As regards the reciprocal admission of consuls, separate agreements are reserved.

Article XI. As regards the economic relations between the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance and Russia the regulations contained in Appendices II-V are determinative....

Article XII. The reestablishment of public and private legal relations, the exchange of war prisoners and interned citizens, the question of amnesty as well as the question anent the treatment of merchant ships which have come into the power of the opponent, will be regulated in separate treaties with Russia which form an essential part of the general treaty of peace, and, as far as possible, go into force simultaneously with the latter.

Article XIII. In the interpretation of this treaty, the German and Russian texts are authoritative for the relations between Germany and Russia; the German, the Hungarian, and Russian texts for the relations between Austria-Hungry and Russia; the Bulgarian and Russian texts for the relations between Bulgaria and Russia; and the Turkish and Russian texts for the relations between Turkey and Russia.

Article XIV. The present treaty of peace will be ratified. The documents of ratification shall, as soon as possible, be exchanged in Berlin. The Russian Government obligates itself, upon the desire of one of the powers of the Quadruple Alliance, to execute the exchange of the documents of ratification within a period of two weeks. Unless otherwise provided for in its articles, in its annexes, or in the additional treaties, the treaty of peace enters into force at the moment of its ratification.

In testimony whereof the Plenipotentiaries have signed this treaty with their own hand.
Executed in quintuplicate at Brest-Litovsk, 3 March, 1918.

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