Battle of Gangut

Battle of Gangut, Maurice Baquoy

Destroyed ships after the battle.

A Russian Galley of 1719 Campaign: these big beasts were 40m (130ft) in length, 7m (23ft) abreast and 1.5m (5ft) deep, and included 25 pairs of oars, 2-4 guns, 90 crew and 200 soldiers. They could make five knots by oar.

Peter I was also devoted to the modernization of most aspects of Russian national life. He began with the military, building the Navy essentially from scratch to a force that at his death boasted fully 36 ships-of-the-line, 86 additional significant warships (frigates and galleys), and 280 support vessels. So dedicated was Peter to the Russian Navy that he made chopping down an oak tree a capital offense, and he also punished the collection of forest windfalls, reserving all hardwood for ship-building. He imported hundreds of foreign artisans, engineers, and mercenaries and sent Russian nobles abroad to study.

With its brackish waters, indented shoreline and lack of tides, the Baltic is more of a vast inland lake than a real ocean, making for difficult sailing and navigation conditions. A semi-Arctic climate imposes yet further restrictions upon sailing fleets and their use. It took all the iron will and determination of Tsar Peter the Great to found the Russian Navy in 1705 with the naval base at Kronstadt, on the Gulf of Finland. To outflank Swedish defences in Finland, Peter built a powerful galley fleet to combine with his new Europeanized army in amphibious operations.

Galleys were cheap and easy to mass produce, could easily be manned by sailors and did not require experienced naval officers to command them. Furthermore in the Baltic, like the Mediterranean Sea, the winds were often fickle and the oar was often superior to the sail. The Petrine galley measured 40m (130ft) in length, 7m (23ft) in width, had a shallow draft of only 1.5m (5ft) and was equipped with 2-4 heavy guns and 18 lighter mounted guns. With a crew of 90 sailors and 200 troops manning 24 pairs of oars, the galley could make a speed of five knots, weather and sea permitting. The hold had enough room for 30 horses, although the crew had to sleep on shore during the night. The effort expended on the galley fleet was vindicated when the Russians defeated a Swedish fleet at Gangut (Hangö Head) in August 1714, paving the way for an outright Russian occupation of Finland.

Battle of Gangut, (July 27/August 7, 1714) (in Swedish, the Battle of Hangö), a naval battle near the Hangö Peninsula between the Russian and Swedish fleets during the Northern War of 1700-21.

In 1714 a Russian galley fleet under the command of Admiral-General F. M. Apraksin (99 galleys and scampavias [small galleys], with an amphibious landing force of 15,000) was sent to the Åbo-Åland reefs (skerries) to effect a landing. However, the Russian flotilla that left Kronstadt on May 9 was forced to stop at Tvärminne because the further route was barred by the Swedish battle fleet (15 battleships and 14 smaller ships) of Vice-admiral Wattrang. In order to bypass the Swedish ships in the southern extremity of the Hangö Peninsula, it was decided to create a portage on the narrow part of the isthmus and to drag the galleys across and into the rear of the main forces of the Swedish fleet. The Swedes sent a detachment under Rear Admiral Ehrensköld (one frigate, six galleys, and three skerry boats) toward one end of the portage and another detachment under Rear Admiral Lillje (eight battleships and three other ships) to Tvärminne in order to attack the Russian flotilla.

Taking advantage of the division of the Swedish forces and of the calm, Peter I decided to break through along the shore. On July 26 the Russian vanguard (35 scampavias) bypassed Hangö Peninsula on oars and blockaded Ehrensköld’s detachment in Rilaks Fiord; on July 27 it was joined by the main forces. On July 27 the vanguard attacked Ehrensköld’s detachment, which surrendered after a stubborn battle. The Swedes lost ten ships with 116 guns; 361 men were killed, 350 wounded, and 237 captured, including Ehrensköld. On July 28 the Swedish fleet withdrew to the Åland Islands. The Gangut battle, which was the first major naval victory of the Russian fleet over a strong enemy, ensured domination over all Finland to the Russian troops. In memory of the victory, a medal was instituted and a monument erected on the shore at Rilaks Fiord.

The following year the Danish fleet blockading Stralsund defeated the Swedish fleet, enabling an allied amphibious force to capture a key offshore position, sealing the fate of the fortress. These operations were supported by a British fleet which had entered the Baltic with the Dutch to protect their commerce against Swedish privateers. The new king of Britain, George I, was also Elector of Hanover, and his continental ambitions gave a new importance to the Baltic. Charles had hoped the privateers would deny Russia any economic benefit from the recently conquered Baltic provinces, but Britain and Holland would not allow the supply of naval stores to be interrupted. In 1716 Danish warships destroyed the Swedish galley fleet in the Sound, crippling Charles XII’s attempt to invade Norway.

Less than five years later, Peter gathered a massive galley fleet in the Åland archipelago. His aim was to capture the Swedish capital of Stockholm. The Swedish sailing fleet would be unable to pursue the shallow-drafted galleys and would be immobilized by the lack of wind power. Numbering almost 270 vessels, including 40 ships of the line and 123 galleys, the Russian fleet set sail in late July 1719 with 26,000 troops on board.The aim was to land near Stockholm with one corps while the rest of the fleet laid waste to the long easterly Swedish coastline. The coastal raids ravaged the towns and settlements, leaving thousands of Swedes without homes. However, the great fear for the Swedes was that the capital could be reached via the narrow and shallow Stäket Sound.To prevent this, the Swedes placed a floating artillery pråm (battery deck) at the northern exit of the Staket Sound and three heavily armed galleys in the middle passage.At the eastern entry to Staket, where the Russians were expected, the Swedes built defensive works mounted by stakes and a gun battery, and manned by 500 troops. On 13 August 1719, 7000 Russian troops landed as expected at Staket but were halted and driven back by a stout Swedish defence. This may have saved Stockholm, but the Russians captured the Baltic provinces with their ports at Riga, Reval, Pernau and Viborg, in addition to Kronstadt.

In 1719 Russian galleys landed troops to ravage the Stockholm region and, after Charles XII’s death, a Danish amphibious force bombarded and captured the Swedish fleet and base at Marstrand, wiping out Swedish communications for operations in Norway. The same year Britain made peace with Sweden, and tried to remove Russian influence from north Germany in order to re-establish a Baltic balance. The former policy was successful, but the latter proved impossible. Sweden was now too weak and isolated to return to the front rank of European states. However, a British battle fleet and the Swedish galleys were able to restrict Russian naval activity between 1719 and 1721, when the Peace of Nystad ended the war.

The collapse of the Swedish Empire was the result of naval attrition. Sweden simply did not have the naval power to deal with the fleets of Denmark and Russia operating at opposite ends of the Baltic, and so her naval forces, adequate against either, were whittled down in small-scale, largely indecisive actions. These minor defeats culminated in the loss of Stralsund and the ravaging of the Swedish coast. The process was hastened by the loss of vital commercial revenues. Unable to use the sea, Sweden could not move her army to meet the allied attacks.

Soviet Naval Infantry

The Soviet Naval Infantry fought during the Second World War, but was then transferred from the navy to the coastal-defence forces before being disbanded in the mid-1950s. On 14 July 1958, however, the president of Lebanon requested urgent aid from France, the UK and the USA to counter a threat by the USSR to deploy Soviet ‘volunteers’ to support pro-Nasser rebels. The US Sixth Fleet was able to land three Marine battalions the very next day, and the threat from the Soviet ‘volunteers’ immediately disappeared. The Marine battalions withdrew on 21 August after what had been a classic exhibition of the value of sea power and amphibious capability.

The Soviet leadership, never slow to learn from such experiences, responded by re-establishing the Naval Infantry, which rapidly became a corps d’élite. in 1961 the Naval Infantry was resurrected; the Soviet Army came to recognize the utility of specialized marine forces for conducting amphibious landings, and each of the fleets was allotted such a unit. Essential to this new policy was the development of amphibious warfare ships, notably the new tank-landing ships (LSTs) of the Alligator class.

The Naval Infantry was divided among the four fleets. From 1961 the Black Sea, Northern and Baltic fleets were allotted a naval infantry regiment, while the Pacific Fleet deployed a brigade. US intelligence assessments from the 1980s indicate that these formations were larger by that time, with brigades deployed by three fleets, and a division with the Pacific fleet.

Each naval infantry regiment comprised three naval motor rifle battalions and a naval tank battalion. The motor rifle battalions each had about 33 BTR-60 amphibious armoured troop carriers, while the tank battalion had a mixed complement of 34 PT-76 amphibious tanks and ten T-55 or T-72 tanks. In battalions with the T-55 tank, three of the ten were often the TO-55 flamethrower type. A naval infantry brigade had two tank battalions and five battalions of naval motor rifle troops, making it nearly double the size of the 2,500-man regiments.

The naval infantry troops, like most Marine forces, were of a higher calibre than normal motor rifle troops of the Soviet Ground Forces. They were better trained than their Ground Forces counterparts, and an increasing percentage were parachute qualified and trained in helicopter-landing operations. There were apparently specialized teams in these regiments trained to employ atomic demolition munitions (ADMs). Soviet ADMs are believed to have been available in several types, weighing 32-36kg each, with an explosive force of 0.1-0.5 kilotons. They would have been used to attack major port or seaside facilities.

The Soviet Naval Infantry force was quite small. It was intended for use on a tactical level as a raiding force, and on an operational level as the spearhead of an amphibious-landing force. Once a beachhead had been seized, further troop landings would be provided by Ground Forces units. For this reason, the Soviet Naval Infantry numbered only about 18,000 troops – compared to the US Marine Corps, which was more than ten times its size. Likewise, the Soviet Fleet’s amphibious warfare ships were inferior in number and sophistication to those of the US Navy. The Soviet Naval Infantry also differed considerably from the US Marines in its approach to amphibious warfare. While the US Marines relied on specially designed armoured, amphibious tracked vehicles (amtracs) for landing operations, the Naval Infantry used the normal Ground Forces BTR-60, which had only marginal performance in the open water. This policy was due in no small measure to the difference in the experiences of the two forces. The US Marines had a tradition of preparing for hotly contested beach assaults, such as those of World War II in the Pacific. In contrast, Soviet wartime experience was mainly against targets without formidable beach defences. Current areas where the Naval Infantry might be used, such as the Danish or Norwegian coasts, were not heavily fortified.

Yet the Soviet Naval Infantry was ahead of the US Marines in the adaption of hovercraft for beach-landing operations. The Soviet fleet deployed over 60 hovercraft in classes, most notably 35 of the AIST class, which was capable of carrying four PT-76 tanks, two T-72 tanks or 220 troops; a fourth class of hovercraft, the Uterok, began entering service in the 1980s. Hovercraft have obvious attractions over armoured amphibious vehicles: against lightly defended beaches, they can quickly land an assault force, and return rapidly alongside the ships of the assault fleet to load up for renewed missions to the beachhead.

Judging by the Soviet Navy’s shipbuilding programmes of the 1980s, the Naval Infantry remained central to Soviet strategic thinking. The construction of further Ivan Rogov-class landing ships, for example, made the Naval Infantry more suitable for employment outside traditional Soviet waters. The Naval Infantry was no longer confined to LSTs alone: the Ivan Rogov class had habitable berths on board, thus permitting long voyages to more distant destinations.

The force expanded, peaking in size and effectiveness around 1988, when it was some 18,000 strong. It fielded:

• one division (7,000 men) of three infantry regiments, one tank regiment and one artillery regiment;

• three independent brigades (3,000 men), each of three infantry battalions, one tank battalion, one artillery battalion and one rocket-launcher battalion;

• four spetsnaz (special forces) brigades, each of three underwater battalions and one parachute battalion.

The Naval Infantry was transported by a growing number of amphibious-warfare ships. Largest were two Ivan Rogov-class dock landing ships, displacing 13,100 tonnes, which carried one Naval Infantry battalion and forty tracked or larger numbers of wheeled vehicles, plus helicopters and surface-effect ships. Fourteen Alligator LSTs were similar in many respects to the British Sir Galahad-class logistics landing ships (LSLs); with a large cargo capacity and bow and stern doors, these were intended for follow-up operations rather than the assault wave. Principal assault vessels were the thirty-seven Ropucha LSTs, which were built in Poland. Smallest were forty-five Polnocny-class small tank landing ships (LCTs), also built in Poland, which displaced some 1,000 tonnes and had a payload of six battle tanks.

The Naval Infantry seized on the surface-effect ship (SES) as an effective way of transporting marines ashore, and developed a number of types including the Pomornik, which could carry three battle tanks, and the Aist, which carried two. Under development at the end of the Cold War was the Orlan-class wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) vessel, designed to transport up to 150 troops at speeds of up to 300 knots. Both the SES and the WIG vessels were very fast compared with normal amphibious shipping, and were designed for short ‘hooks’ in support of a ground advance, or for lightning attacks on crucial targets in the Baltic and Black seas, both types of operation having precedents in the Soviet experience in the Second World War. These craft were another example of the flexibility of thought in the Soviet forces, which produced some novel solutions to the problems facing them.

The Soviet Naval Infantry (marines) numbered some 12,000 during this period, organized into regiments (one each stationed with the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea, and Pacific Fleets.) These forces were tailored for amphibious assault, but were largely directed to support the activities of the fleets to which they were assigned. However, as the Soviet-Syrian exercise in 1981 showed, they did have the capability to operate in a power projection role, as did the presence of Soviet amphibious forces in the Indian Ocean during this time. A total of 83 amphibious ships supported these forces. Supply could have been provided by the Soviet merchant marine, numbering some 1,723 ships by mid-1982.

In displaying American geopolitical will vis a` vis the USSR, the US Navy increasingly revealed the weaknesses of its Soviet counterpart. The Soviet Navy was never able to match the wide-ranging exercises of the Americans during the 1980s, as its Okean maneuvers in 1970 and 1975 had done. This is not to say that the Soviet Navy was idle. A major amphibious exercise was undertaken in July 1981 by Soviet and Syrian forces in the Eastern Mediterranean involving over 1,000 Soviet Naval Infantry. In September of that year, the Soviet Navy deployed 60 ships and landed more than 6,000 Naval Infantry and Army troops as part of Zapad ’81, a major combined-arms exercise conducted in the Baltic near the Polish border. The size of the exercise (the Soviets officially declared that some 100,000 personnel took part) and its political significance (it occurred three months before martial law was imposed in Poland as a result of the challenge of the Solidarity movement) meant that the Navy could still be seen as important to Soviet foreign policy. Nonetheless, when it is considered that the US Navy was able to participate in a plethora of combined-arms exercises that achieved such impressive results, Soviet activities are put into proper perspective.

Russian Federation

The Marine Infantry (MI) is an Arm of the Coastal Troops of the Navy, designed and specially trained for combat operations in amphibious landings, as well as for defending naval bases, important parts of the coast and coastal facilities.

The marines in amphibious operations can operate on its own for capturing stationing sites of the enemy’s navy, ports, islands, non-integrated parts of the enemy’s coast. In the cases, when the landing basis is represented with the Land Force’s units, the marines land within advanced units to seize seashore points and parts and to support landing on them of the main landing forces.

The MI’s armaments: waterborne combat equipment, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems and automatic small arms.

The Marine Infantry’s formations and subunits are landed on the beach from amphibious ships and boats, as well as from shipborne and shore-based helicopters with fire support of ships and aircraft. In some cases, the marines can surmount water spaces under their own power aboard amphibian vehicles (in most cases, armoured personnel carriers).

The Russian Naval Infantry have been gradually phasing out PT-76 amphibious tanks, and started to receive a number of T-80s. A full-strength Naval Infantry Brigade may have up to 70-80 Tanks. The APCs used by the Naval Infantry are either wheeled BTR-80s (in Assault Landing Battalions) or tracked MT-LBs (in Marine Battalions). While Naval Infantry units were supposed to receive BMP-3 IFVs, BMMP (bojevaya mashina morskoj pekhoti) fitted with the turret of the BMP-2, few have been delivered, and it is far from certain such re-arming will take place. BMP-3s may equip one company per Marine battalion.

According to Defense Ministry statement published by RIA Novosti (November 27, 2009), “All units of Russia’s naval infantry will be fully equipped with advanced weaponry by 2015.” Included in this upgrade would be T-90 tanks, BMP-3 IFVs, 2S31 120mm mortar/artillery tracks, wheeled BTR-82A armored personnel carriers, air defense equipment and small arms. All Naval Infantry units were equipped with Ratnik infantry combat gear and all Northern Fleet naval infantry units were equipped with BTR-82A APCs as of November 2016. Naval Infantry and Navy units also receive new-technology binoculars. The Naval Infantry have started to receive a modernized version of Strelets reconnaissance, control and communications system and completed receiving D-10 parachutes. All Pacific Fleet and Caspian Flotilla naval infantry units were equipped with BTR-82A APCs as of May 2018.

In late February 2014, at least one Black Sea Fleet assigned unit (at company level) was apparently using Tigr armoured cars near Sevastopol during the 2014 Crimean crisis. During the crisis in March 2014 imagery emerged of some Naval Infantry personnel carrying what appeared to be the OTs-14-1A-04 7.62×39mm assault rifle with an under-barrel GP-30 40mm grenade launcher; a bullpup design normally associated with the Russian Airborne Troops, as well as Combat Engineering and Spetsnaz units.

Russia’s Counterspace Weapons

Kinetic Physical Evidence suggests that Russia has invested in a sweeping range of kinetic physical counterspace capabilities over the past decade, including ground- and air-launched direct-ascent ASAT missiles capable of targeting satellites in LEO and co-orbital ASAT weapons that could operate in any orbital regime. Russia’s kinetic physical counterspace activities often closely resemble previously operational Soviet-era ASAT programs, suggesting that the country has benefited from decades of ASAT weapons research conducted by the Soviet Ministry of Defense.

On October 20, 1968, the Soviet Union became the second country in the world to successfully demonstrate a counterspace weapon when it destroyed a domestic satellite in LEO using a co-orbital ASAT. Called Istrebitel Sputnikov (IS), meaning “satellite destroyer” in Russian, the first Soviet co-orbital ASAT was tested 20 times between 1963 to 1982, destroying several targets launched as part of the program. A follow-on version of the IS system, known as IS-MU, was operational from 1991 to 1993.

Prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, the country began developing a much more capable co-orbital ASAT known as the Naryad. Reportedly designed to reach altitudes as high as 40,000 km and contain multiple warheads in a single launch, the Naryad would likely have posed a serious threat to satellites in GEO. The system saw limited testing-with just one launch in 1994-and no confirmed intercepts.

Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia’s kinetic physical counterspace arsenal includes ground-launched direct-ascent ASAT missiles. In December 2018, Russia conducted its seventh test of the PL-19/Nudol direct-ascent ASAT system. The PL-19/ Nudol completed its first successful flight test in November 2015, after two unsuccessful attempts. Unclassified U. S. reports suggest that both this launch, and a previous test in March 2018, used a mobile transporter erector-launcher (TEL) within the Plesetsk Cosmodrome complex instead of a static launch pad. Although at least six of the seven launches are verified to have originated from Plesetsk, a mobile launch system would theoretically allow the ASAT to be launched outside of the Cosmodrome facility, ensuring greater flexibility to target LEO satellites in inclinations above 40 degrees as they transit over Russian territory.

Although not specifically designed as direct-ascent ASAT weapons, Russian mobile-launched S-400 surface-to-air missiles-capable of reaching a maximum altitude of 200 km-could potentially reach a satellite in LEO. The follow-on surface-to-air missile system, the S-500, is expected to reach altitudes up to 300 km if launched directly upward. Oleg Ostapenko, Russia’s former deputy minister of defense, once stated that the S-500 will be able to intercept “low-orbital satellites and space weapons.” First tested in 2018, the new missile’s production timeline has since slipped, and “there has been no indication of when an actual S-500 will be made available.” Like the PL-19/Nudol system, using the S-400 or eventually the S-500 as a direct-ascent ASAT would require a high-precision targeting capability that has yet to be demonstrated via a destructive test.

MiG-31BM “Foxhound” Aircraft on September 14, 2018. Photographed at the Zhukovsky airfield outside of Moscow, the aircraft is carrying what has since been identified as a potential anti-satellite weapon.

A modified Russian MiG-31 fighter jet was photographed in September 2018 carrying an unidentified missile that some reports suggest could be a “mock-up” of an air-launched ASAT weapon. Although this development follows a 2013 statement from the Russian Duma expressing the Russian government’s intent to build an air-to-space system designed to “intercept absolutely everything that flies from space,” the system depicted in the September 2018 photo would almost certainly be limited to targeting objects in LEO, due to its size. In 2017, a Russian Aerospace Forces squadron commander confirmed that an ASAT missile had been designed for use with the MiG- 31BM aircraft-the same variant spotted with the mysterious missile. Citing several sources familiar with a U. S. report on the new weapons system, CNBC reported that the missile may become operational as soon as 2022.

Orbital Trajectories for Cosmos 2542 and USA 245 on January 23, 2020. Since orbital parameters for classified satellites do not appear in the U. S. Space Command’s public catalog of space objects, analysts use observations from amateur astronomers to calculate USA 245’s orbital trajectory.

Russia has not publicly announced the development of a new co-orbital ASAT program since the fall of the Soviet Union. In the past few years, however, the Russian Aerospace Forces has launched a series of small “inspector” satellites in LEO that have demonstrated some of the technologies required to operate such a system. In 2017 and 2018, three small Russian satellites-Cosmos 2519, 2521, and 2523-engaged in RPO in LEO, prompting a statement of concern from the U. S. State Department. Although a June 2017 Russian Soyuz launch appeared to place just one satellite in LEO-Cosmos 2519-a second satellite was detected two months later, likely deployed from the first as a subsatellite. The Russian Ministry of Defense made a statement saying that the second satellite was designed to “inspect the state of a Russian satellite.” In October 2017, a third satellite was deployed from either Cosmos 2519 or its subsatellite, resulting in three independent satellites in orbit. Over the course of several months, the satellites engaged in a series of maneuvers and RPO exercises, including slow flybys, close approaches, and rendezvous. In February 2020, Chief of Space Operations of the U. S. Space Force General John Raymond appeared to refer to one of these three satellites when he said that Russian inspector satellites have “exhibited characteristics of a weapon.”

Analysis published in Jane’s Intelligence Review used Russian procurement documentation and contractor reports to connect Cosmos 2519, 2521, and 2523 with the program name Nivelir. Contracts signed in 2016 between the Nivelir program and a Russian company known for developing radiation-absorbing materials suggest that future Nivelir satellites-such as Cosmos 2535, 2536, 2537, or 2538, all launched in July 2019-may be coated with a protective film to avoid being tracked by optical or infrared sensors from the ground or in space.

Russia’s newest co-orbital system may be designed to target satellites in GEO. Designated Burevestnik, this program will likely employ low-thrust but highly-efficient electric propulsion to maneuver lightweight satellites-possibly similar to those from the Nivelir program-around the GEO belt. A report published in 2019 indicated that a new ground control center was being built for Nivelir and Burevestnik at the same site the Soviets used to control the Istrebitel Sputnikov missions in the 1960s.

Luch Continues to Explore the GEO Belt. The Russian satellite has stopped at 19 different positions in the geostationary belt since its launch in 2014, including those depicted here in 2019.

Although there is no evidence yet of lightweight Russian satellites maneuvering in the GEO belt, a larger satellite has been observed engaging in suspicious RPO activity in the regime. The satellite-known as Olymp-K or Luch-has attracted attention for shifting its position within the geosynchronous belt on a relatively frequent basis, occupying at least 19 different positions since its launch in September 2014. Luch first attracted attention when it repositioned itself between two satellites operated by Intelsat, a U. S. satellite communications company. Approaching satellites in GEO in this manner could allow for close inspection or potentially interception of their communication links. In September 2015, Luch approached a third Intelsat satellite. The international response escalated in September 2018, when French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly accused Russia of committing “an act of espionage” after it approached a French-Italian military satellite “a bit too closely” in October 2017.

Analysis of Luch’s on-orbit behavior since its launch in 2014 suggests that the satellite has approached 11 unique Intelsat satellites, four Eutelsat satellites, two SES satellites, and at least nine other satellites operated by Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the European Space Agency. Although Luch appears to be maneuvering around the GEO belt in a systematic, deliberate manner, no public reports suggest it has damaged any of the neighboring satellites along the way.

Spying on a Spy Satellite ON NOVEMBER 25, 2019, Russia launched a small satellite, Cosmos 2543, into what the Russian Ministry of Defense described as a “target orbit from which the state of domestic satellites can be monitored.” Two weeks later, the ministry announced that a subsatellite, Cosmos 2542, had been deployed from Cosmos 2543.

Three days after its deployment, Cosmos 2542 performed an orbital maneuver to synchronize its orbit with USA 245, what is believed to be a U. S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite. Amateur satellite observers who record and share satellite observations online noticed that USA 245 performed its own maneuver soon thereafter, possibly to steer clear of Cosmos 2542. In January 2020, Cosmos 2542 maneuvered toward the American spy satellite again, this time coming as close as 50 km. A day later, USA 245 made another maneuver, further distancing itself from the Russian inspector satellite.

In an interview with SpaceNews, General John Raymond, the Commander of U. S. Space Command and Chief of Space Operations of the U. S. Space Force, confirmed the close approach, adding that he believed it was intentional.

Livonia and Pskov, 1240-42

In 1240 a military campaign was launched from Livonia against Pskov, resulting in the overthrow of the faction that supported the rule of Aleksandr Iaroslavich. Early in the spring of 1242 Aleksandr recaptured the city and on 5 April defeated the Livonian army in what has become known as the Battle of the Ice. The independent sources for these events include the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, the First Novgorod Chronicle, the vita of Aleksandr Iaroslavich, the Laurentian Chronicle, and the Chronicle of Suzdal. It is doubtful to what extent the information found in the chronicles of Pskov can be regarded as original.

The Rhymed Chronicle records after the transfer of northern Estonia to the Danish king that Bishop Hermann of Dorpat had come into dispute with the Russians “at this time”. The Russians had turned against the bishop and done him much harm. The bishop asked the Teutonic Knights for help, and their master had also come to his aid. The “men of the king” (kuniges man)-a contingent from Danish territory-had also arrived to give help. The chronicler also writes that this army took Izborsk, where all Russians who defended themselves were killed. Russians from Pskov clashed in fighting with the Order, the men of the Danish king, and the army of Bishop Hermann, and were defeated at Izborsk. The Russians fled to the River Velikaya. A siege of Pskov then began, whereby “many knights and squires / deserved their right to a fief”. The city surrendered, weakened from the lost battle, its prince Gerpolt freely handed over the castle and good land to the knights so that the master of the Order would take care of them. The Order’s army then left Pskov, leaving behind two knights and a small contingent of Germans to guard the territory. When the prince of Novgorod heard of this, he came with his army to Pskov and drove away the two knights, who were acting as bailiffs: “if Pskov were held / it would be a great thing for Christendom / until the End of the World. / It is a misfortune / if somebody has conquered good lands / but failed to man it well: he may well complain at the damage”, writes the chronicler in conclusion. The prince of Novgorod returned to his city but then the prince of Suzdal Alexander arrived with a large army and advanced further on to Livonia. When the bishop of Dorpat learned of this, he prepared for an attack. The armies of the Order and Dorpat, even united, were too small and they were overwhelmed by the superior number of Russians. Twenty Teutonic Knights were killed and six were taken prisoner. Aleksandr returned to his land. After describing the battle, the chronicler adds that the Order’s master Herman Balke had been at war with both the Russians and the pagans for five and a half years and had then died. The capture of Izborsk in 1240 and the two knights with their small entourage are also mentioned in the chronicle of Hermann von Wartberge.

The Novgorod Chronicle has the following account. In 1240, after the Battle of the Neva, Izborsk castle was captured by the Germans, namely by the men from Odenpäh, Dorpat, and Fellin, acting together with Prince Iaroslav Vladimirovich. When news of this reached Pskov, an army left to fight the enemy and was defeated. The Germans proceeded to burn the outskirts of Pskov together with their churches and icons, books, and gospels. They destroyed a number of villages near Pskov, besieged the city for a week, and took the children of the venerable men hostage. Then the “treacherous” Pskovians, Tverdilo Ivankovich and others, let the Germans into the city and set themselves up together with them as rulers of Pskov, plundering the villages of the Novgorod Land as well. Some Pskovians fled with their women and children to Novgorod. When the Germans invaded Votia, the Novgorodians asked Iaroslav Vsevolodovich to send them a prince, but were not satisfied with whom they received, namely Andrei Iaroslavich, and asked for Aleksandr. He did indeed come in the spring of 1241, capturing Koporye together with the Novgorodians, the warriors from Ladoga, the Karelians, and the Ingrians. In March 1242 Aleksandr, with the Novgorodians and his brother, attacked the land of the Chuds and besieged Pskov, where he took the Germans and the Chuds prisoner and sent them “in chains” to Novgorod. He himself fought the Chuds and had his army destroy their lands. Following the crushing defeat of a Russian reconnaissance unit, the prince and his troops moved to the lake, where they were followed by the Germans and Estonians. In the battle “by the Raven’s Rock on the narrow [of Lake Peipus]” on 5 April the Germans were defeated and the Chuds took to flight. That same year a German embassy was sent to Novgorod or to the prince promising to return everything that had been conquered from the prince in his absence: “Votia, Luga, Pskov, Lettgallia”. The prisoners on both sides were released as were the hostages of Pskov.

Aleksandr’s vita narrates that in the third year after the Battle of the Neva Aleksandr had set out in the winter for the land of the Germans with a great army. The Germans had at that time already taken Pskov and installed their bailiffs there. Aleksandr killed some of the Germans, took others prisoner, and freed the city from its conquerors. He then went to the land of the Germans to destroy it. Aleksandr achieved a great victory in the battle, taking many prisoners, including those called the “knights of God”. In Pskov he was glorified by the priests for defeating the aliens. The prince nonetheless warned Pskov not to betray him during his lifetime nor that of his grandchildren. The chronicles of Pskov are the only source to add the date of the Battle of Izborsk as 16 September, but their other accounts may have been influenced by both the Novgorod chronicles and the vita of Aleksandr. The Laurentian Chronicle records that Andrei was sent by his father Iaroslav to the Novgorodians to help them and also refers to the battle on the lake and that many prisoners were taken.

The mention in the Novgorod Chronicle of Iaroslav Vladimirovich and the men from Odenpäh, Dorpat (i. e. the soldiers of the bishop of Dorpat), and Fellin (i. e. the Teutonic Knights) indicates a direct analogy with the events of the 1230s, when Izborsk was temporarily occupied by a Russian army allied with Dorpat. It is highly plausible that none other than Iaroslav Vladimirovich is called Gerpolt in the Rhymed Chronicle. The taking of hostages to guarantee the treaty indicates an analogy to 1228, when a Livonian contingent settled in Pskov and the agreement was likewise guaranteed through the handing over of hostages.

Although the accounts found in these independent sources are highly consistent with one another, it is hard to discern the significance of these events in the overall context of contemporary relations between Livonia and Rus’. A central role is clearly played by the bishop of Dorpat and Prince Iaroslav Vladimirovich, whereas the Rhymed Chronicle and the chronicle of Hermann von Wartberge, both chronicles of the Teutonic Order, concentrate on the actions of its members. Yet even the Rhymed Chronicle mentions that the bishop asked the Teutonic Knights for help, in other words that this was a catalyst for the campaign. The Rhymed Chronicle also mentions the Danish king’s vassals, but under the year 1240 rather than 1242. The bishop of Dorpat is acting throughout as territorial lord, not as missionary. Although these events are sometimes regarded as an attempt, instigated and countenanced by the papacy, to subjugate the territory and church of Rus’, this cannot be demonstrated by any of the sources in relation to the campaign against Pskov. The description in the Novgorod Chronicle of the burning of churches and holy scriptures in the vicinity of Pskov is not a sign of the heresy of the occupiers but simply of their criminal behaviour overall. The Novgorod Chronicle deals with the destructive campaigns that took place in Novgorod’s territory in 1240-41 separately: in relation to Pskov, the chronicler refers to the destruction of the villages in the Novgorod Land, but in relation to Koporye reference is made to localities on the Luga river. There is no basis in the sources for treating the campaigns as a combined attack on Novgorod from two sides.

The Rhymed Chronicle, and the tradition derived from it, appears to associate the campaign against Pskov and the Battle of the Ice with the first master of the Teutonic Order in Livonia, Hermann Balk. Balk had already left the country in 1238 and died in 1240. He was succeeded by Dietrich von Grüningen (1238/39-1246) and Andreas von Felben (1241, 1248-53). The Rhymed Chronicle mentions the master’s participation in the 1240 campaign against Pskov, but not, however, in 1242. The mention of the “men from Fellin” in the chronicle appears to point to the Order’s territory in Estonia. However, the expression in the context of the Order’s great castle that was nearest to Novgorod may have referred to the Order as such. On the other hand, Evgeniia Nazarova argues that the commander of Fellin played a key role in the occupation of Pskov. The fact that the Rhymed Chronicle refers principally to the Teutonic Knights does not necessarily mean, however, that the Teutonic Order played the most important role or that its master or his deputy, Andreas von Felben, personally led the campaign. It has long since been pointed out that the attack on Rus’ was not in the general interest of the Teutonic Order in Livonia. Its main opponents were in the south: in Curonia, Samogitia, and Lithuania, not to mention in Prussia. In 1241-1242 the Teutonic Order in Livonia, led by the Livonian provincial master, Dietrich von Grüningen, seized Curonia with mil itary support from the Danish vassals and the bishoprics of Riga and Ösel. According to Friedrich Benninghoven, the campaigns against Rus’ were informed by the attitudes and separate policy of the former Sword Brothers who had survived the Battle of Saule but could not come to terms with the transfer of northern Estonia to Denmark and thus tried to assert their authority by means these attacks. There is no evidence, however, that there was a confrontation between two different tendencies in the Order. After the merger of the two orders, the Teutonic Order pursued a determined policy of forcing the former Sword Brothers into the background. In support of the view that there were two opposing visions of conquest, or at least different political tendencies, recourse is made to the unproven assertion that the Order had indeed wanted to launch a campaign from Livonia to conquer Pskov or even Novgorod in 1240. Taking part in the campaign against Pskov and the attempt to capture Votia are not incompatible with the Order’s plans south of the Daugava.

At the centre of the campaign against Pskov was therefore the bishopric of Dorpat and its relationship with Prince Iaroslav Vladimirovich dating back to the 1230s and, by extension, to the Pskovian opposition to Aleksandr Iaroslavich, who sought Iaroslav Vladimirovich’s ascension to power in Pskov. Prince Iaroslav’s closest supporters were constantly in touch with Odenpäh, which explains why the “men of Odenpäh” come first in the list of the “Germans” in the chronicle. The fact that the “men from Fellin” come last in this list indicates the smaller role of the Teutonic Order in comparison. The start of the offensive may have been determined by a propitious moment in Pskov’s internal political situation. The “harm” (leit) mentioned in the Rhymed Chronicle inflicted by Rus’ on Bishop Hermann, who had to suffer it during a long time, and the danger for Christians are not a direct reference to the earlier military activity in the borderlands between Dorpat and Pskov c. 1239-40. There was a constant internal political opposition in Novgorod and Pskov which sought support from various external powers-the princes of Suzdal, Smolensk, and Chernigov among others. Trade relations with Livonia were crucial for all groups. We cannot say that one group had a particular interest in trade with Livonia. Rather, we are dealing with pretenders from the different political tendencies to the princely throne, with one of these being Iaroslav Vladimirovich.

Pskov’s surrender in the face of the oncoming Livonian army constituted a change of prince from the city’s point of view. The limits of the authority of the Order’s two bailiffs remain unknown. Iaroslav Vladimirovich’s relationship with the support army from Livonia was extremely complex, and his power in Pskov was secured by means of the hostages. The Novgorod Chronicle names Tverdilo Ivankovich “together with others” as the real ruler of Pskov. He had “made himself ruler in Pskov with the Germans”. Iaroslav’s position also depended on Tverdilo. There is no indication of who in Livonia was promised the hostages, whether the bishop of Dorpat or the Order. When describing Livonia’s peace embassy, however, the chronicle deals with the release of the hostages and other terms of peace affecting the Order more than the bishop of Dorpat. The Rhymed Chronicle also mentions the fiefs that the bravest knights had earned in the battle of Izborsk, although this may simply be part of the conventions typical of battle descriptions. If anyone did indeed receive a fief, this would have first meant confiscating estates from the supporters of Aleksandr Iaroslavich, for example. Such a course of action would have inevitably exacerbated the division among the burghers of Pskov.

A charter of 1248 provided for the division of the principality of Pskov between the bishopric of Dorpat and the Teutonic Order. It mentions that the principality “was donated by Prince Ghereslawus, its heir, to the mentioned church of Dorpat”. Albert Ammann has attempted to show that this donation originally dates to 1239 and would thus account for the planned attack on Pskov. This dating has been widely accepted. In the register of charters brought from Mitau to Stockholm in the mid-17th century, there is, moreover, the following entry: “1239 Dorpat. How the kingdom of Pskov was divided between the Order and the diocese of Dorpat.” However, this may simply be a misreading from a transumpt of 1299 regarding the charter of 1248. Despite the lack of a documentary basis, the promises of Prince Iaroslav Vladimirovich-or something that the bishopric could subsequently construe as promises-c. 1240 appear plausible. Any military aid had to be paid for, and the “donation” of a principality might have been the form the remuneration took. This donation can presumably be understood in terms of feudal law, as in the case of Vsevolod of Gerzike: perhaps Iaroslav had donated Pskov to the bishop of Dorpat and then received it back as a fief. The relevant passage in the Rhymed Chronicle states “that Gerpolt who was their prince / gave with his good will / the castle and the good lands / into the hands of the Teutonic Knights”. This might have referred to this donation, which had already been granted to the Order in 1240 as partial remuneration for taking part in the campaign against Pskov. Iaroslav’s right of inheritance was in itself obviously fictitious. Pskov was not a heritable principality; its princes were appointed and expelled, as was the case in Novgorod. Iaroslav’s hereditary lands would have been Toropets and Rzhev, but his-continual-presence in Livonia during the 1230s suggests that he was not able to establish himself there or that these possession did not satisfy his ambitions. Iaroslav Vladimirovich appears in the sources again in 1243, when his wife, who had been killed by her stepson in Odenpäh and buried in Pskov, is mentioned, and also in 1245, when he fought as leader of the warriors of Torzhok along with Aleksandr Iaroslavich against the Lithuanians’ campaign of destruction. He had probably died by 1248.

According to the Novgorod Chronicle, Aleksandr left Novgorod after the capture of Pskov and was not called back until after the invasion of Votia. This means Novgorod did not regard the change of power in Pskov as a threat despite the destruction of Novgorod villages by Tverdilo. For the 1242 campaign against Pskov, Andrei also came from Suzdal, again suggesting that Aleksandr, in reconquering Pskov, was acting more in his own sovereign interests rather than those of Novgorod. At the same time, the opposition to Aleksandr in Novgorod shows that there too there were people who sympathized with the change of power in Pskov.

The Rhymed Chronicle says that after the conquest of Pskov the army of Aleksandr and Andrei advanced further “into the lands of the [Teutonic] brothers” (in der bruder lant)169 in March and April of 1242, once the bishop of Dorpat had sent his men to help the Order. “The lands of the brothers” could indeed have served to describe the whole of Livonia, but the chronicler distinguishes quite clearly between the different dominions and by “the lands of the brothers” principally refers to the Order’s territory. The Russian army consequently must have advanced as far as Tolowa or Sackala; the campaign of destruction lasted long enough for the Livonians to be able to raise an army. Bearing in mind that the Order had an interest in having Pskov under its control, however, the issue of the Tolowa tribute is certainly another factor in this context. The destructive advance of Rus’ could have made its way there precisely because payment of the tribute had been refused. As the army of Rus’ made its way home, the troops of the Order and the bishop of Dorpat caught up with it. In the ensuing battle Aleksandr and Andrei were victorious. The dimensions of this battle have occasionally reached absurd proportions in the historiography Anatolii Kirpichnikov has calculated that the Livonian army really could amount to a maximum of 30-35 knights and over 300 sergeants and natives and the Russians would have had been slightly more, amounting to a total of about 1000 men for both sides together.

According to the account in the Russian chronicles, a peace was agreed in Novgorod in 1242, in which “Germans”-does this mean the Teutonic Order – ceded Votia, Pskov, the Luga, and Lettgallia to the prince and/or Novgorod. Thus the status quo was preserved in the peace. The Pskov and Votia campaigns were therefore not connected with one another until the peace with the Order. But a separate question is what was meant by Lettgallia in this context. Novgorod had no interest in Lettgallia, therefore the chronicle means here restoration to Pskov and Aleksandr. Since there are no reports of a temporary handover of Lettgallia during Aleksandr’s rule, it would appear plausible to assume that Pskov had relinquished the tribute from Tolowa during the war and that its right to collect tribute there was now being reinstated. If the Order shared in the seizure of power in Pskov, it may indeed have been recompensed with the tribute of Tolowa or the entire right of possession, but was forced to accept the restitution after the loss of Pskov. It is altogether feasible that Aleksandr also had interests in the Daugava, since he had just married a princess of Polotsk. Aleksandr and his father Iaroslav Vsevolodovich exercised considerable influence in the Smolensk-Polotsk region throughout the 1240s.

The place given to the Battle of the Ice as a significant event even in world history is based on purely ideological concerns and has little to do with the historical evidence. A distinction must be made between the great importance that the Battle of the Ice has undoubtedly had in the 20th century and its importance for contemporaries in the 13th century. In the debate about how much significance should be given to the battle, we must first define the frame of reference, i. e. whether viewed in terms of the family of the grand prince of Vladimir, Pskov, Novgorod, the bishopric of Dorpat, Rus’ or Europe. As far as the sources from Rus’ are concerned, this was a story about how Aleksandr lost control of Pskov only to win it back. The traitors in Votia and Pskov mentioned in the Novgorod Chronicle had betrayed the prince, not Rus’ or the Orthodox religion. The warfare of 1240-42 “most likely did not change at all the attitude of Novgorod and Pskov towards Livonia and Sweden. The West was not seen as much of a threat or less so following the defeat”. This judgement by Bernhard Dircks can be endorsed with the qualification that the very notions of East and West are themselves anachronistic. These events belong exclusively in the context of local struggles for power, and in the case of Pskov we are dealing with `internal political’ conflicts as much as with `external relations’. To the extent that the church and questions of religious confession played a role at all-which was in any case in the form of justification rather than cause-this was of such a marginal nature that it left no mark in the sources.

In a wider sense, however, Livonia’s attempts to gain control in Votia and Pskov during 1240-42 appear as significant. The political forces in Livonia were able to maintain a position east of Lake Peipus for some time. The event is lent an aura of exceptionality by the fact that we know in retrospective that Lake Peipus became a dividing line during the Middle Ages between the Orthodox and the Catholic worlds. In the contemporary context, this signified on the one hand the continuation of the mission among the Votian pagans and on the other a political intervention in Pskov, quite separate ideologically and geographically from the former. We are not dealing with a unique decision in history but with episodes from a policy practiced both before and after the Battle of the Ice. The fact that first a victory was achieved, which itself proved fleeting when Livonians came to face a stronger opponent in the shape of Aleksandr, depended on circumstances beyond Livonia as well as on arbitrary factors, principally internal political conditions in Novgorod and Pskov.

Russian Army of Ivan the Terrible

A policy change introduced at this time was of major importance in the evolution of the relationship between the Tsar, the landowning class and the armed forces. For most of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries the main fighting force had been composed of cavalry, largely based on the princely appanages with little centralized organization. By the mid-sixteenth century these princely private armies were to be found only, if at all, in the appanages of Lithuanian origin, such as those of the Bel’skys and Mstislavskys, and in the retinues of the Russian ‘service’ princes of the Upper Oka, such as the Odoevskys and the Vorotynskys.

The development of a Russian army dependent on the grand prince alone began in the reign of Ivan III, who had already extended the grand prince’s control over the armed forces where he had been successful in absorbing a principality and destroying its separate identity. Princes and boyars, when not acting as governors and local commandants, were usually absorbed as commanders and senior officers in grand princely regiments, in accordance with the ranking laid down by the code of precedence, or mestnichestvo. The general run of service gentry, originally of mixed social origins, was gradually sorted out into those who served the grand prince directly, as members of his dvor, received estates in service tenure (pomest’ia), and were merged into the dvoriane or future service gentry, and those who had served local princes and boyars and who continued to carry out their service as pomeshchiki on a provincial basis. Lower-ranking cavalry officers were thus attached to provincial towns, resided on their estates and were summoned when required by the grand prince, bringing their servants with them. Both these groups received lands on a service tenure which in the early days of the system could not be sold or pledged, but could be passed on the death of the holder to a son or son-in-law fit to perform service. The service to be given was strictly calculated in terms of the amount and quality of land.

The system of pomest’ia was devised to enable cavalrymen to serve when called upon, and was to remain the basic way of paying for the cavalry army until the reign of Peter the Great. The Pomestnyi Prikaz, or Estates Office which administered the recruitment and the provision of land to the mounted cavalry, was founded in 1475. Further distribution of lands as pomest’ia took place under Vasily III and Ivan IV from a variety of sources. The estate was not regarded as the private property of the pomeshchik; it provided a fixed income for his maintenance and his equipment, and he was not expected to concern himself with its exploitation. He was not therefore a landowner in the Western sense of the word, but a land user entitled to a certain income from the land. It was thus quite distinct from the votchina or the patrimonial estate which formed the basis of the wealth of the aristocracy and the service gentry, which many pomeshchiki owned in addition to the land granted by the government.

The first major initiative in the remodelling of the armed forces taken in Ivan IV’s reign occurred in 1550. The Tsar’s dvor numbered some three thousand all told, and a specific group of one thousand cavalrymen, divided into three categories, was now provided with pomest’ia in the central provinces to enable them to lodge in Moscow and provide all their supplies from lands relatively near to the capital. They were to be available for immediate service as required, serving on a rota. The estates they were allotted were provided mainly from the Tsar’s own lands or from lands of free peasants around Moscow.46 Aleksei Adashev was one of these cavalrymen.

A corps of infantry equipped with firearms was also formed by Ivan, pishchal’niki, or ‘harquebuzzers’, as Jerome Horsey, a later English visitor, called them, who had already been used in 1480 in the nonexistent battle of the Ugra and who were replaced in 1550 by musketeers or strel’tsy, also on foot. These, together with Ivan’s chosen one thousand cavalry corps, formed his personal guard, ‘the forerunners of Peter I’ s guards regiments’, presumably to protect him against the sort of rioting which had so frightened him in 1547. The strel’tsy were to be part of the military scene until the reign of Peter the Great. Their function was not to fight with cold steel or pikes in hand-to-hand combat, but to use firepower. Their numbers fluctuated and probably reached some twenty thousand by the end of the sixteenth century. They were, unlike the cavalry levy, a permanent uniformed corps. Unlike the Ottoman janissaries they were free men; they received salaries in money and goods according to rank, but also maintained themselves and their families partly by artisan production and small-scale trading activities. Their officers belonged to the gentry and were allotted pomest’ia as well as salaries. The whole corps came under the authority of a new Streletskii Prikaz.

Artillery was also extensively and effectively used in Russia, and Ivan may have taken a personal interest in the manufacture of guns – from Russian-produced iron ore – and their utilization by his army. Each regiment was allocated a certain number of guns in the 1550s. Ivan took 150 heavy and medium pieces of artillery to Kazan’ with him in 1552, and in this respect Russia was not inferior to her Western enemies, though supplies of gunpowder and lead had to be imported and could therefore be subject to enemy blockade on land.

The origin of the idea of this corps of strel’tsy has been much debated in Russia. Clearly Russia needed more modern weaponry, namely firearms and heavy artillery, for her wars against Poland, Sweden and in Livonia, rather than cavalry armed with bows and arrows. Contemporaries and many military specialists have speculated on whether the new formations were borrowed from the Ottomans through the writings of a certain Ivan Semonovich Peresvetov, which may perhaps have been known to Ivan IV. For a long time Peresvetov’s very existence was in doubt and he was thought to be an assumed name or a collective personality. Not until the beginning of the twentieth century was his existence actually established. In the 1950s he was unfortunately treated as one of the powerful humanist thinkers of sixteenth-century Europe, comparable to Machiavelli or Bodin. A revision of his human and intellectual qualities has not yet been undertaken, nor is it certain that all his alleged writings can be attributed to him; thus his influence still needs to be questioned.

Born and bred in Lithuania, conditioned by life in this borderland, divided between Polish Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy, offering his sword as a Polish cavalryman now to the Hungarian Jan Zapolya, a vassal of the Ottomans, now to the Habsburg King of Bohemia, now to the voevoda Peter IV Raresh of Moldavia, Peresvetov was a fairly senior officer serving with six or seven horses and the corresponding number of grooms and servants. Evidently resentful at his failure to make good in service, and distrusting boyars and their ilk, he attempted to enter Russian service in 1538, during the regency of Elena. He may have been attracted to Russian service by his connexion with Peter of Moldavia, whose wife was Elena’s cousin by marriage. He tried to interest the Russian court in a model shield ‘in the Macedonian manner’ which he had invented, and was taken up by the boyar M. Iu’rev Zakhar’in, the uncle of the future Tsaritsa Anastasia, and provided with a workshop and a pomest’ie. Unfortunately for Peresvetov, Zakhar’in died, he lost his patron, and all interest in his patent shield evaporated.

Peresvetov continued in increasingly impoverished circumstances for some ten years, after which all traces of him vanish. This was not surprising since he had no connexions in Russia with any of the boyar clans, or even with the gentry, who tended also to be united by fairly close local associations. Reduced in his own eyes to poverty, in 1549, at the time of the gathering of the so-called ‘assembly of reconciliation’, he personally submitted a petition, together with a number of other written works, to Tsar Ivan, accusing the ‘great’ of having despoiled him of his land, leaving him naked and destitute, without even a horse. Peresvetov’s not unjustified hope of achieving more in Russia, where a simple horseman could now count on some support as a pomeshchik, was not to be fulfilled, and as a man he disappears from sight. But the various writings attributed to him survived in a number of manuscript copies of the early seventeenth century and have led to a belated acceptance of his existence as a man and his importance as a ‘spokesman’ of the gentry or the holders of pomest’ia, as against the rich and powerful, in the sixteenth century.

It is this interpretation of the ‘class’ role of Peresvetov, considered to have been insufficiently appreciated by pre-revolutionary historians, which has contributed to his great importance in Soviet historiography. The relevant texts attributed to Peresvetov are ‘On the conquest of Tsar’grad by the godless Tsar Magmet Amuratov, son of the Turkish Tsar’, ‘The Tale of Magmet Saltan’, and ‘The Great Petition’, which contains Peresvetov’s account of the five months he spent in the service of Peter IV Raresh, his only Orthodox patron. Mehmet II’s victory over the last Paleologus emperor, Constantine, was in great part attributed by Peresvetov to the selfishness, cowardice and incapacity of the ‘great’ men surrounding the Emperor and his failure to support the more lowly men-at-arms. (‘The rich never think of fighting, they think of peacefulness and gentleness and rest.’) He argued in favour of a centrally recruited, controlled and paid army, like the Turkish janissaries, but he also argued that free men fight better than slaves, and the Russian cavalry was free, while the janissaries were slaves as were all the civil employees of the Ottoman court. In Russia the kholopy or bondsmen of various kinds in the armed forces were at this time mainly employed either in the transport of food, fodder and munitions, or in labouring on engineering projects.

Another great virtue of the Ottoman system in Peresvetov’s eyes was its concentration on pravda rather than vera – truth or justice, rather than faith. This makes one wonder whether the long years in foreign parts, before he came to Russia, had somewhat dented the purity of Peresvetov’s Orthodox faith. The sense of the Russian word ‘pravda’ is impossible to convey in English, where in dictionaries the emphasis is almost always on the notion of truth, whereas in Russian the notion of justice or righteousness is fundamental. The most articulate expression of Peresvetov’s ideas (if they were his ideas) comes in his version of the tale of Prince Peter IV of Moldavia, where the Prince praises Mehmet the Conqueror for having restored justice to Constantinople, and explains that ‘God does not love faith, but pravda or justice’. Through his Son he left us the gospel of truth (pravda), loving the Christian faith above all other faiths, and showed us the path to heaven. But the Greeks, though they honoured the gospel, listened to others and did not carry out the will of the Lord and fell into heresy (i.e. the decision to unite with Rome, taken at the Council of Ferrara/Florence).

But Peresvetov was primarily concerned with the practical problems of governing a warlike society. He favoured the institution of a professional army (like the Ottoman janissaries), but free, government by state employees, and the bridling of the high nobility. It is difficult to see in him the spokesman of the gentry, he seems rather to place his faith in a state ruling by ‘groza’, terror or awe. Mehmed was again quoted as an example, for when he discovered that his judges were being dishonest he had them flayed alive, saying:

if their flesh grows back again their crime will be forgiven. And he ordered their skins to be stretched out and ordered them to be stuffed with cotton and ordered them to be affixed with an iron nail in places of judgment and ordered it to be written on the skins: without such terrors, justice and sovereignty cannot be introduced.

Mehmed was also praised for being dread, or terrible, in fact ‘grozen’: ‘If a tsar is mild and peace-loving in his realm, his realm will become impoverished and his glory will diminish. If a tsar is dread and wise, his realm will expand and his name will be famous in all lands.’ ‘A kingdom without terror [groza] is like a horse without a bridle.’ Peresvetov’s admiration for the efficiency of Ottoman rule is by no means unique at that time, when it was very much a lieu commun in that part of Europe which had had dealings with the Porte.

To be ‘dread’ Ivan did not need any advice from Peresvetov, and there is not in fact any evidence that Ivan IV ever read anything written by Peresvetov; and if the idea of creating the corps of musketeers came from outside Russia, a more convincing source is in fact Moldavia, where voevoda Peter Raresh had introduced a corps of musketeers who were not slaves like the janissaries, but free like the strel’tsy, and with which of course Peresvetov would have been familiar. It seems, therefore, unlikely that Peresvetov exercised any influence on Ivan’s policy in the 1550s as a spokesman for the gentry.


Current production BMP-3




The BMP-3 is a Russian tracked IFV which is a continued evolution of the earlier BMP-1 and BMP-2 tracked IFVs. The BMP-3 is fully amphibious and integrates into the turret both a 30 mm auto-cannon and a 100 mm low-velocity gun which is able to fire both conventional rounds and ATGMs. The vehicle saw development through the 1980s and entered service with the Soviet Army in 1987. Over 2000 of the vehicles were built and are fielded with a number of armies around the world including Russia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Indonesia, Kuwait, South Korea, Libya, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan and Venezuela.

The BMP-3 weighs 41,000 pounds (18.7 metric tonnes), and is approximately 23.5 feet (7.1 meters) long, 10.5 feet (3.2 meters) wide and 7.8 feet (2.4 meters) in height. The chassis is of an aluminum / steel hybrid construction. The vehicle is operated by a crew of three, including a driver, gunner and commander. The gunner and commander are located in the turret, while the driver is positioned to the forward center. The vehicle can also accommodate a compliment of 7 troops, with two of the troops seated on other side of the driver at the front of the vehicle and the remaining five at the rear of the vehicle.

The vehicle is powered by a 500 hp diesel four-stroke liquid-cooled engine, providing a power to weight ratio of 24.3 hp/ton. The powerpack is located at the rear of the vehicle, more typical of a MBT layout than that of an IFV. This approach permits a highly sloped glacis plate, optimizing protection along the front of the vehicle, while protecting the engine front forward on-coming threats. The engine is actually located below the vehicle floor, and therefore persons entering and exiting the vehicle do so over the powerpack. There are a unique set of folding doors at the rear of the vehicle to accommodate the dismounts.

Equipped with a four-speed hydromechanical transmission system and an independent torsion bar assisted suspension, the single-stage auger-type water jets are operated through a power takeoff. The vehicle is able to attain roads speeds of 45 mph (70 km/hr), cross-country speeds of 28 mph (45 km/hr), and 6 mph (10 km/hr) in amphibious operations. With on-board fuel the vehicle possesses an operational range of 370 miles (600 km).

The BMP-3 can be produced in a number of variants, each with its own associated weapon systems, with the baseline vehicle as the IFV. This is a comparably heavily armed vehicle for its class. The turret contains both a low-velocity 2A70 100 mm rifled gun and a 30 mm 2A72 autocannon. The 100 mm gun is able to fire K116-3 “Basnya” and 9M117 AT-10 Stabber ATGMs, as well as a full range of conventional ammunition for this weapon, including the 3OF32 High Explosive – Fragmenting (HE-Frag) shell. The ATGMs have a range out to 6000 meters and the 100 mm gun has a range out to 4000 meters.

The 30 mm autocannon is provided with dual feed ammunition (i.e., two types of belt fed ammunition are available to the gunner to select between) and can fire at 400 RPM, though the weapon is typically used in short bursts. For loading of the 100 mm gun the turret is equipped with the 2K23 auto-loading system. This system loads both the ATGMs and standard 100 mm ammunition rounds through the carousel into the main gun, with 22 rounds stored in the auto-loader and the remainder in the vehicle chassis. Standard ammunition carrying capacity for the vehicle is 40 rounds of 100 mm ammunition, 8 ATGMs, 300 rounds of High-Explosive/Incendiary (HEI) 30 mm and 200 rounds of Armor Piercing-Tracer 30 mm ammunition.

Targeting of both the 100 mm gun and the 30 mm auto-cannon is performed by the on-board ballistic computer. This computer integrates data provided by a cross-wind sensor, from the main weapon stabilising system, the vehicles laser range finder, a sight/guidance device provided for the gunner, the gunner’s sight and an infrared searchlight. This system enables both weapons to be aimed and fired while the vehicle is stationary, driving or swimming.

Secondary weapons consist of a 7.62mm PKT machine gun mounted coaxially with the main weapons in the turret and two additional 7.62mm PKT machine guns mounted at the front of the vehicle on either side of the driver. These weapons are operated by the two troops who are positioned to the left and right of the driver. Each PKT is provided with 2000 rounds of ammunition. There are also firing ports and associated vision blocks located along the side of the vehicle that enable the troops positioned in the rear compartment to fire their personal firearms through.

The BMP-3 hull and turret are both constructed from welded aluminum. This is a ballistic alloy with a thickness of approximately 35 mm. The frontal arc of the vehicle is further protected by an additional armor steel plate over the blow deck, and spaced armor at the trim vane. The trim vane is a plate attached on the underside of the front of the vehicle that extends upward when the vehicle swims to keep the bow from plunging under the water line. The protection level of the frontal arc of the turret is further enhanced by the addition of spaced steel armor plating. The vehicle offers protection against 30 mm rounds over the frontal arc and small arms fire all around. The baseline armor along the sides of the vehicle can be further supplemented through the addition of add-on armor (AOA) modules, principally consisting of layers of ballistic steel. This armor is able to defeat 50 calibre armor piercing rounds. The frontal arc protection can be further enhanced through the addition of Kaktus ERA modules, able to defeat RPGs. These kits take the vehicle net weight from the baseline 18.7 tonnes to 22.2 tonnes.

Additional protection is provided by an armored and self-sealing fuel tank. This is located in front of the driver location, behind the strongest armor on the vehicle. The fuel tank, as well as being self-sealing, is further armored to resist any Behind-Armor-Debris (BAD) that may penetrate the hull from a kinetic energy or shaped-charge threat. The vehicle is also configured to be equipped with the Shtora electro-optical jammer, and comes standard with 81 mm smoke grenade launchers, an automatic fire extinguishing system, radiation and chemical agent detectors and filtration units, and the ability to generate an additional smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel directly into the exhaust manifold.

The BMP-3 saw combat during the First Chechen War and the Yemeni Civil War (2015). Though performance is not widely reported, the vehicle seems to have performed well in both conflicts.


Russian Federation

    BMP-3 – Basic version, as described.

    BMP-3M – KBP and Kurganmashzavod have upgraded the vehicle with a new engines and turret with a new ATGM system 9K116-3 Basnya. The upgraded vehicle is called the BMP-3M and the new Bakhcha-U turret which includes a new automatic fire control system with ballistic computer, new SOZH gunner’s sight with laser rangefinder and an ATGM guidance channel, thermal imager, TKN-AI commander’s vision device with laser illuminator and new ammunition loading system for ATGM. The BMP-3M is also able to fire various ammunition types, including new 100 mm laser-guided projectiles, new 100 mm HE-FRAG (high explosive fragmentation) rounds and new 30 mm APDS (armour piercing discarding sabot) rounds. Its additional auxiliary armour shields are effective against 12.7 mm armour-piercing rounds from a range of 50 m. Explosive reactive armour is available as an option. The new uprated engine is the UTD-32, which is rated at 660 hp. There are actually several different M models, some fitted with additional armour, “Arena-E” or “Shtora-1” active protection systems, air conditioner etc.

    BMP-3M Ataka – BMP-3M version with a two men turret armed with 30 mm 2A72 autocannon, and 9M120-1 Ataka ATGM.

    BMMP (bojevaya mashina morskoj pekhoti) – Version for naval infantry, fitted with the turret of the BMP-2.

    BMP-3K (komandnyi) – Tactical command variant, includes additional radio R-173, an intercom for seven users, an AB-R28 independent portable power unit, a navigation device TNA-4-6 and the “Ainet” air burst round detonation system. The BMP-3K lacks the bow machine guns and has its whip antennas mounted on the rear hull. Crew: 3+3.

    BMP-3F – Armed with the standard 2K23 turret. Specially designed for operations at sea, with improved seaworthiness and buoyancy, capability to move afloat at sea state 3 and fire with the required accuracy at sea state 2. Compared to the basic model, the vehicle design features changes increasing floatability and vehicle stability: the self-entrenching equipment is omitted, a lightweight anti-surge vane and an air intake tube are introduced; the BMP-3F turret is also protected by anti-surge vanes. Water jet propellers develop a speed of 10 km/h when afloat. The BMP-3F design allows the vehicle to come ashore under rough sea conditions and to tow the same-type vehicle. A new main sight, the SOZH, which has an integrated laser range finder and an ATGM guidance channel, is installed. This version can endure continuous amphibious operation for seven hours with the running engine.

    BT-3F – Amphibious version based on BMP-3F with the original turret replaced by a smaller remote weapon station with either 7.62, 12.7 or 14.5mm machine gun. It can accommodate a crew commander, driver, gunner, and 14 troops, and can use optional ERA armor.

    BRM-3K “Rys” (Ob.501) (boyevaya razvedivatel’naya mashina) – Surveillance and reconnaissance variant with 1PN71 thermal sight (3.7x/11x, 3 km range), 1PN61 active-pulse night vision device ( 3 km range), 1RL-133-1 (“TALL MIKE”) I-band surveillance radar (3 km man, 12 km vehicle), 1V520 computer and a TNA-4-6 navigation system. The armament consists of the stabilized 30 mm autocannon 2A72 (600 rounds) and a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun (2,000 rounds) or AU-220M Baikal remote weapon station with 57 mm BM-57 autocannon and 7.62mm PKMT machine gun. Combat weight: 19 t, crew: 6. In 1993, Russia started quantity production of BRM-3K vehicles.

    BMP-3 Dragoon – New IFV version with an unmanned turret which can be armed with a variety of combat modules, including standard BMP-3’s Bakhcha-U turret with a 2A70 100 mm cannon, a 2A72 30 mm autocannon and a PKTM 7.62 mm machinegun, the AU-220M Baikal remote weapon station module with a 57 mm BM-57 gun and a module with a 125 mm 2A82-1M tank gun, the new 816 h.p. turbocharged UTD-32T engine and powerplant moved to the front, and a hydraulic ramp fitted to the rear. It is reported that its trials were finished in October 2017.

    BREM-L “Beglianka” (Ob.691) (bronirovannaya remontno-evakuatsionnaya mashina) – Armoured recovery vehicle with five-tonne crane and 20/40 metric tonne capacity winch.

    BMP-3 “Khrizantema-S” (9P157-2) – Self-propelled anti-tank version with 9M123 Khrizantema (AT-15) ATGM system with radar and laser guidance. The 9P157-2 carries two 9M123 missiles on launch rails, which are extended from a stowed position; the radar is also stowed during transit. The missiles are re-loaded automatically from an internal magazine with 15 rounds (missiles are stored and transported in sealed canisters) and can also accept munitions manually loaded from outside the vehicle. The manufacturer claims that three 9P157-2 tank destroyers are able to engage 14 attacking tanks and destroy at least sixty percent of the attacking force. The dual guidance system ensures protection against electronic countermeasures and operation in all climatic conditions, day or night. NBC protection is provided for the crew (gunner and driver) of each 9P157-2 in addition to full armour protection equivalent to the standard BMP-3 chassis and entrenching equipment. The 9M123 missile itself is supersonic, flying at an average speed of 400 m/s (Mach 1.2) and a range of between 400 and 6,000 meters.[55] Entered service in 2005. More than 10 sets of new anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) complexes “Khrizantema-S” on the crawler, which replaced the complexes “Shturm”, entered the artillery units of the Southern Military District, based in Ingushetia, in November 2012.[57] Khrizantema vehicles are fielded with artillery units.

    9P163M-1 “Kornet-T” – Anti-tank version with Kornet (AT-14) missile system. Some sources call it the 9P162. The Kornet is similar in function to the Khrizantema missile system. The 9P163M-1 carries two 9M133 missiles on launch rails, which are extended from a stowed position during transit. Missiles are re-loaded automatically by the tank destroyer from an internal magazine with 16 rounds (missiles are stored and transported in sealed canisters). Nuclear, biological and chemical protection is provided for the two crew members (gunner and driver) in addition to full armour protection equivalent to the standard BMP-3 chassis. The guidance system of the 9P163M-1 allows two missiles to be fired at once, the missiles operating on different guidance (laser) channels. The first Kornet-T missile carriers were delivered in 2003 to replace the Shturm-S, and the first batch of 20 vehicles entered service in 2012. The Kornet-T is used by motorized units.

    2S18 “Pat-S” (Ob.697) – Self-propelled version of the 152 mm howitzer 2A61 “Pat-B”. This was only a prototype, further development led to the 2S31 Vena.

    DZM “Vostorg-2” (dorozhno-zemlerojnaya mashina) – Combat engineer vehicle with a dozerblade and excavating bucket. Prototype.

    UR-07 (ustanovka razminirovaniya) – Mine clearing system. The UR-07 might replace the UR-77 “Meteorit”. It has the same chassis as the BMP-3 but a bigger steel hull with two launch ramps in the rear. The ramps are used to fire rockets towing hose-type mine-clearing line charges to clear mine fields.

    UNSh (Ob.699) (unifitsirovannyj shassi) – Basic chassis for specialised variants.

    KhTM (khodovoj trenazhor) – Driver trainer.

    Hermes or TKB-841 – Air-defence vehicle with high-velocity missiles and radar system. Prototype.

    2S31 Vena – Self-propelled mortar carrier equipped with a 120 mm mortar based on BMP-3 chassis. It entered production in 1996 and service in 2010.

    2S38 ZAK-57 Derivatsiya-PVO – Self-propelled air defense vehicle based on BMP-3 chassis fitted with a 57 mm autocannon and passive reconnaissance and target tracking equipment. It is designed to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, aircraft, helicopters, and MLRS rockets. 2S38 is equipped with a TV/thermal-imaging system with automatic target lock-on and tracking capabilities, a laser rangefinder and a laser guidance system. The optical and electronic target acquisition system can spot an aircraft at 6.4 km (4.0 mi) and using sectoral observation can detect aircraft over 12 km (7.5 mi) out. The cannon is fast enough to destroy targets traveling 500 m/s (1,100 mph; 1,800 km/h; Mach 1.5). Laser-guided, air burst and specialized anti-drone munitions for ZAK-57 are in development. Its guided projectiles have four wings folded in the casing and controlled by the actuator in the projectile’s nose section, using the energy of the airflow to steer themselves to the target.

    UDAR UGV – Unmanned ground vehicle based on the tracked chassis of the BMP-3 with the center hull raised to fit the DUBM-30 Epoch armed with 2A42 autocannon, 7.62mm PKMT machine gun, and Kornet-M ATGM.

    Vikhr UGV – Unmanned ground vehicle based on BMD-3 equipped with a smaller turret armed with 2A72 autocannon, 7.62mm PKMT coaxial machine gun and six anti-tank guided missiles 9M133M Kornet-M, three on each side of the turret. It can carry separate aerial and ground drones.

    Prokhod-1 – Unmanned mine-clearing vehicle based on the BMP-3 chassis. It is equipped with the anti-mine TMT-C trawl, and a remote weapon station turret with a 12.7mm machine gun.


Ottoman and German strategy WWI

Ottoman 3rd Army winter gear

The Battle of Sarikamish, December 29th, 1914.

With the Ottoman assault on Sarikamish having stalled, General Yudenich, Chief of Staff of the Russian Caucasus Army, senses an opportunity to deliver a devastating counterattack. The Ottoman IX and X Corps at Sarikamish are dependent on a single line of communication back to Ottoman territory running through Bardiz, and Yudenich concludes that if the bulk of I Caucasian and II Turkestan Corps can hold the line against the Ottoman XI Corps, IX and X Corps can be encircled and annihilated. To this end, he has ordered two regiments from II Turkestan Corps at Yeniköy to move north towards Bardiz, and today they are able to bring the town under artillery fire.

The Battle of Sarikamish, December 27th, 1914.

For the past several days, the Ottoman X Corps has been moving south towards Sarikamish, but marching across mountain peaks and through waist-deep snow has seen it lose a third of its strength to the elements. When it arrives at Sarikamish today alongside IX Corps, the two units can muster only 18 000 soldiers to attack a Russian garrison that now numbers 14 000. Though the Ottomans manage to sever the rail connection between Sarikamish and Kars, and though elements of 17th Division break into the town after dark, the Russians are able to rally and repulse the enemy assault.

The Battle of Sarikamish, December 26th, 1914.

With the arrival of 17th Division today, Enver Pasha orders IX Corps to attack Sarikamish, even though X Corps has not yet arrived, and despite IX Corps having lost 15 000 of its starting 25 000 men over the past five days to the weather. Moreover, since December 25th the Russian garrison of Sarikamish has grown from two battalions of infantry to ten, and though the Ottomans press their attacks with great courage and tenacity, they are unable to break through the Russian lines and occupy the town.

The Battle of Sarikamish, December 24th, 1914.

In the Caucasus the occupation of Bardiz today by the Ottoman 29th Division of IX Corps masks growing problems with Enver’s offensive. Moving through heavy snow and in frigid conditions, thousands are already being lost to the elements; 17th Division of IX Corps reports that as much as 40% of its soldiers have fallen behind, some undoubtedly disappearing into the drifts of snow. X Corps to the north, meanwhile is exhausted, but two of its divisions are pushed northwards towards Ardahan before Enver orders it to redirect itself westwards to cover IX Corps left flank. 29th Division, meanwhile, is given no rest – Enver instructs it to march immediately on Sarikamish, not only to complete the envelopment of the Russian forces facing XI Corps but because the Ottoman units need to seize Russian supplies if they are not to run out of food and starve.

On the Russian side, I Caucasian and II Turkestan Corps are in the line facing XI Corps when Enver begins his offensive, the former to the south of the latter. The first response of General Bergmann, commander of I Caucasian Corps, had been to order his force to advance westward in an attempt to threaten the rear of the Ottoman IX and X Corps. General Nikolai Yudenich, Chief of Staff of the Russian Caucasus Army, is better able to understand the threat the Ottoman advance poses to Sarikamish, and orders I Caucasian Corps to instead withdraw today while moving reinforcements to concentrate at the threatened town.

The planned advance of the Ottoman 3rd Army against Sarikamish. December 22nd, 1914

What will become the Battle of Sarikamish begins today when Enver Pasha orders the Ottoman XI and X Corps of his 3rd Army to begin their advance into the Russian Caucasus.  Enver’s objective is the town of Sarikamish, which sits at the head of the main railway supplying Russian forces in the Caucasus, but his plan bears the strong imprint of German thinking and the influence of 3rd Army’s Chief of Staff Baron Bronsart von Schellendorff.  Of 3rd Army’s three corps, XI Corps, reinforced by two divisions that had been originally bound for Syria and Iraq, was to frontally attack the two Russian corps southwest of Sarikamish in order to fix them in place.  This was no small task for XI Corps, given the two Russian corps number 54 000 men and the Ottoman unit would have been outnumbered by just one of the enemy corps.  The key maneouvre, however, is to be undertaken by IX and X Corps.  The former, sitting on XI Corps’ left, is to advance along a mountain path known as the top yol towards Çatak, from which it can descend on Sarikamish from the northwest, outflanking the two Russian corps pinned by XI Corps.  Though the top yol is known to the Russians, they believe it was impractical to move large bodies of troops along it.  Enver, for his part, believes that not only is the path useable but its high altitude and exposed position would ensure that high winds kept it swept of snow, as compared to the valleys below.  Finally, X Corps, on the left of IX Corps, is to advance and occupy the town of Oltu, from which one portion of the corps can move to support IX Corps’ move on Sarikamish, while another portion can continue northeastwards towards the town of Ardahan.  If successful, the plan promises the envelopment and annihilation of the two Russian corps southwest of Sarikamish and the opening of the way to Kars.
With its emphasis on outflanking the enemy position, it has the obvious imprint of the thinking of Schliffen and the German General Staff.  Further, Enver’s plan involves precise timetabling of the advance of IX and X Corps (necessary given the lack of communications between the three corps of 3rd Army) which removes all possibility of improvisation and does not allow for any unit to fall behind schedule.  Finally, there is the emphasis on speed – the soldiers of IX Corps, for instance, are told to leave their coats and packs behind to quicken their advance.  This ignores the obvious reality of conducting operations in the Caucasus in December and January – temperatures are consistently below -30 degrees centigrade and the snow on the ground is measured in feet, not inches.  This ignorance of the human element, also a conspicuous reflection of pre-war German planning, is to be of decisive import in the days ahead.

By choosing to enter the war on Germany’s side, the Ottomans were tying the fate of their empire to Germany’s. It was a calculated risk. Germany stood an excellent chance of winning the war, and it had no immediate designs on Ottoman territory. Its victory would provide the outcome most conducive to affording the breather they needed to implement the reforms to rejuvenate their empire. From the German perspective, the Ottoman empire could fulfill three functions. It could cut Russia’s communications through the Black Sea to the rest of the world, tie down Russian forces in the Caucasus, and “awaken the fanaticism of Islam” to spark rebellions against British and Russian rule in India, Egypt, and the Caucasus.

Around the time of the signing of the secret alliance, Enver and the Germans had discussed a number of speculative war plans, most involving offensives in the Balkans. In the middle of August Enver ordered his German chief of staff to draw up a formal plan for the opening of the war. The plan identified the main axis of effort to be an attack on the Suez to cut British communications to India and left open the option of an amphibious landing in the vicinity of Odessa. Another possibility the plan offered was a joint offensive against Serbia and Russia in the Balkans. Throughout the opening months of the war Ottoman and German planners remained committed to a passive stance in the Caucasus. Indeed, the August mobilization deployed the bulk of the Ottoman army in the west in Thrace, not in the east. The Ottoman force facing the Caucasus, the Third Army, was to brace for an attack and mount a defense around Erzurum. Only in the event of a decisive defeat of the Russians was the Ottoman army to go on the offensive.

When Russian forces began to close in on the Austro-Hungarian city of Lemberg (Lviv), Vienna urged the Ottomans to launch an amphibious invasion near Odessa to relieve the pressure. The initial enthusiasm for the idea of Enver and Austrian and German planners, who entertained ideas of inciting not just Muslims but Georgians, Jews, and even Cossacks to rebel against the Russians, faded once the enormous logistical difficulties involved became clear. They did not give up the idea of an amphibious operation altogether. Major Süleyman Askerî Bey, the chief of the Tekilât-ι Mahsusa, envisioned smaller clandestine landings of Ukrainian and other partisans along the Black Sea coast to spark rebellions.

The Tekilât-ι Mahsusa and the Program of Revolution

Enver Pasha had founded the Tekilât-ι Mahsusa in November 1913.59 The experience of fighting against insurgents in the Balkans and as an insurgent against the Italians had impressed upon Enver and other officers the utility of an organization for irregular warfare. Moreover, an organization that could act in secrecy and lend the Ottoman state “plausible deniability” had obvious utility in the cutthroat yet diplomatically bounded international environment in which the Ottomans were forced to maneuver. Enver and his German advisors hoped to use the Tekilât-ι Mahsusa to spark uprisings behind the lines of their foes. In August Tekilât-ι Mahsusa operatives formed units in Trabzon, Van, and Erzurum to carry out clandestine and guerrilla operations inside Russia and Iran. Bahaeddin akir took command of the unit in Erzurum, the Caucasus Revolutionary Committee. The committee recruited heavily among Circassians. For purposes of internal security and secrecy, it required two current members to attest to a candidate’s trustworthiness. By mid September they had formed several bands of Circassians and Iranians armed with pamphlets as well as small arms and grenades. Addressed to “our brothers in faith,” the appeals of the Caucasus Revolutionary Committee called upon the Muslims of the Caucasus to rise up against the “Moskof” oppressor and to drive the “unbeliever” from the Caucasus entirely. Several operatives left for the North Caucasus and Azerbaijan, where they made contact with locals, including Mehmed Emin Resulzade of the Musavat Party.

The Kaiser was not the sole German holding high hopes for the revolutionary possibilities of pan-Islam. Extrapolating from the conviction that Islam was a martial religion that could not countenance the rule of unbelievers over Muslims, German policymakers presumed that Muslims under Entente rule were essentially obliged by both belief and psychological constitution to revolt. With much encouragement from them, Ali Haydar Efendi, the Ottoman sheikh ul-Islam – the most senior religious authority in the Ottoman state – proclaimed a jihad on 14 November, three days after the Porte’s declaration of war. The proclamation summoned all Muslims, Shii as well as Sunni, to war against Russia, Britain, and France. The call to jihad had little to no effect, except perhaps among the Kurds of Iran, among whom more immediate factors were at work. The idea of waging a holy war in alliance with the infidel powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary was dubious at best. Rumors that Germany had paid for the proclamation circulated inside even the Ottoman empire. Most Muslims did not find that their own circumstances merited war, regardless of what a religious scholar in Istanbul might declare.

The Germans’ ardor for pan-Islam loomed greater than their competence or common sense, and they often worked at cross-purposes with their Muslim Ottoman allies, who viewed German efforts in the Middle East with suspicion. The presence in the German effort of unqualified specialists and outright charlatans did not improve matters. The German Foreign Ministry hired a journalist, Max Froloff, to go to the Red Sea region to recruit Muslim holy warriors. Froloff opted to make a shorter trip to Holland where he wrote an account of his imagined experiences. The publication of his book nonetheless had an impact. Its descriptions of Froloff’s visits to Mecca and Medina, holy cities strictly barred to non-Muslims, sullied the Ottomans’ reputation as guardians of the sacred sites and consequently incensed them. Another German project bordering on the surreal was the dispatching, over the objections of Enver and the Ottoman Interior Ministry, of an Austrian orientalist and Catholic priest, Alois Musil, to inspire Muslim Arabs to embark on jihad. Notably, after returning from Arabia, Musil testified to the “complete indifference of the tribes toward holy war and Pan-Islamic ideas.” The belief that the Germans were using such missions to prepare the ground for the postwar expansion of German influence haunted the Ottomans, who obstructed German efforts at holy war at several junctures. Frustrated, the Germans moved the center of pan-Islamic operations in 1916 from Istanbul to Berlin.

Perhaps precisely because they themselves were Muslims, many Ottoman officials had been skeptical about the possibilities of pan-Islamic revolution from the beginning. Consular officers in Taganrog, Odessa, Novorossiisk, Batumi, and Tiflis all reported that Russia’s mobilization had only caused people, including Muslims, to rally around the tsar. In Tiflis Muslims were praying for Russia’s victory. The chargé d’affaires in St. Petersburg Fahreddin Bey predicted that in the event of war the vast majority of Russia’s Muslims would not only fail to take active measures on the Ottomans’ behalf but would probably fight alongside the Russians as in the War of 1877–78. Most were living in poverty and uneducated, he explained, and those with some education tended to be even more pro-Russian. Indeed, Enver himself advised his subordinates that most of Russia’s Muslim Circassians would fight on Russia’s side and that the “Türkmen” (by which he probably meant Azeri Turks) and Muslim and Christian Georgians would merely refrain from actively supporting Russia.

The war opens

Before their respective governments had declared war, Russian and British armed forces initiated combat operations against the Ottomans along the Iranian border, in the Persian Gulf, and in the Levant. Russia’s initial war plan for the Caucasus provided for an active defense with limited local offensives. Encountering only light resistance, however, Russian forces from Iran pushed further into Ottoman territory to occupy Köprüköy and threaten Erzurum. The Ottoman army then struck, however, and within two weeks had driven their foes back. To the north, where the Tekilât-ι Mahsusa raised a force of some 5,000 Laz and Ajar irregulars, Ottoman forces managed to take the towns of Artvin and Ardanuch. They announced their entrance into the formerly Ottoman town of Ardahan toward the end of December by firing off a telegram to Istanbul boasting simply, “Greetings from Ardahan!” These victories had not been easy, and rifts between the Tekilât-ι Mahsusa and regular army led Enver to dismiss Bahaeddin akir from command, but in the initial confrontations the Ottomans had bested the Russian Caucasus Army.

Sarikamish: gamble and disaster

These early successes emboldened Enver to plan a major offensive to envelop and crush Russian units in the vicinity of Sarikamish (Sarιkamι). In view of the rugged terrain, the winter weather, and the balance of forces, the plan involved tremendous risks, which Enver’s subordinates brought to his attention. Enver, however, was not one to fear risk. His meteoric rise had taught him to embrace it. The hero of 1908 had gone from junior officer to minister of war in a mere five years. Moreover, his German chief of staff, Bronsart von Schellendorf, was encouraging him to undertake a major offensive. With Germany’s armies bogged down on two fronts and Austria-Hungary on the defensive, the short victorious war the Central Powers had wagered on was growing into a stalemate. If the Ottomans could envelop the Russians on the Caucasian front and inflict a stunning defeat on them as the Germans had done at Tannenberg, the war effort would regain momentum. Enver had no experience commanding large units but, ever self-confident, he arrived in Erzurum to take personal command of the operation.

The offensive commenced on 22 December. Unseasonably warm weather boded well. In the initial days the 95,000-strong Third Army made good progress. By coincidence, the tsar had appeared in Sarikamish on a morale-building mission, and some Russians now feared the advancing Ottomans might capture him. The population in Sarikamish and even some Russian generals panicked. But in the meantime the weather shifted dramatically. Temperatures plunged to −36°C and blizzard conditions set in, trapping tens of thousands of poorly clothed Ottoman soldiers in the mountain passes. Most of these were without winter gear and some were without even footwear. Meanwhile, newly arrived reserves enabled the Russians to counterattack. The result was a calamitous rout from which the Ottoman army would never fully recover. Not until 1918 and the disintegration of the Russian army would the Ottomans again be able to go on the strategic offensive on the Caucasian front.

As bad as it was, the disaster of Sarikamish later acquired mythical proportions as part of an effort to discredit the Unionists and Enver in particular. Thus Enver’s decision to launch a wintertime offensive with ill-clothed troops in the mountains is often presented as the epitome of stupidity and fanaticism. Total Ottoman losses were crippling, but closer to 60,000 than the 130,000–140,000 of popular legend. One explanation advanced for Enver’s otherwise seemingly ineffable heedlessness for entering both the war and the offensive at Sarikamish is a deep-seated pan-Turanism, a grand desire to unite the Turkic and Muslim peoples of the Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia with those of the Ottoman empire. Such an explanation is not convincing. As noted earlier, Ottoman mobilization plans deployed the army in the west, not on the Caucasian front. Despite the fact that an invasion of the Caucasus was the most obvious and straightforward way to bring the war to Russia, Enver settled on a Caucasian offensive only after discarding for geographic and logistical reasons other options of attack through the Balkans or across the Black Sea. The military stalemate in Europe led Germany and Austria-Hungary to press the Ottomans to launch an offensive against Russia sooner. Enver’s concept of encircling Russian units at Sarikamish and cutting them off from their rear was daring but not hare-brained, and in accord with standard military doctrine. Finally, the Ottomans made no effort even to present the operation as pan-Turanist. Liman von Sanders does recollect that Enver commented that he “contemplated marching through Afghanistan to India.” A conversational aside is hardly conclusive evidence, and it is notable that Enver stated the objective was India. India was not an objective of pan-Turanism, but British India had long been an objective of Britain’s rivals, including Germany and Russia.

Given that the advice of Enver’s Ottoman and German staff officers alike was split regarding the proposed operation, Enver’s personality became critical to the decision to attack. Personal experience had taught the youthful war minister that boldness pays. The Third Army executed the first half of the operation well, but the drastic shift in the weather and the uncommonly swift Russian counterattack sealed its fate; its fate was not sealed from the beginning. The tactical blunder committed by Enver at Sarikamish – emphasized so often to underscore the alleged irrational pull of pan-Turanism upon Enver and the Ottomans in general – is less remarkable when compared with the record of British, French, and German generals fighting on the western front in France, who sacrificed far greater numbers of lives over a longer period of time for no strategic advantage.

Shortly after it had commenced its offensive on Sarikamish, the Ottoman army launched a probe into northern Iran. The idea was that a relatively small force led by the Unionist and Tekilât-ι Mahsusa commander Ömer Naci Bey, who had fought alongside Iranian constitutionalists in 1907 and knew the region, would rally the Muslims of Iran to rebel against the Russians, stir problems in the Russian rear, and perhaps even facilitate a drive toward Baku, the center of Russia’s oil industry. The probe initially made rapid headway when General Aleksandr Myshlaevskii, panicked by the advance at Sarikamish, ordered the abandonment of Urmia and Tabriz. The Russians’ sudden withdrawal inspired the Kurds of Iran, including the Russians’ erstwhile ally Simko, to swell the ranks of the Ottoman force. The Ottomans and their local allies entered Tabriz on 14 January, looting and wreaking terror upon Assyrian and Armenian villagers along the way. After Russian defenses at Sarikamish had stabilized, however, the chief of staff of the Caucasus Army General Nikolai Yudenich ordered General Fedor Chernozubov immediately to retake Tabriz and secure the northern Iranian plateau. The return of the Russians in force caused the Ottoman offensive in Iran promptly to collapse.

Attack on the Suez

At the same time that Enver was presiding over the disaster at Sarikamish, Cemal Pasha was readying forces for an offensive on the Suez. The offensive aimed at cutting Britain’s lines of communication to India and inciting the Muslims of Egypt and North Africa to rebel against their British and French overlords. Berlin assigned tremendous importance to attacking the British in Egypt and from the beginning of the war had been eager for an attack across the Suez Canal. The Ottomans had not foreseen a multifront war in which Britain was an adversary and so formed a new army, the Fourth, with its headquarters in Damascus. Cemal arrived on 18 November to take command of the offensive. Due to the long distances involved and the poor state of the roads and communications his army was ready only in the middle of January. The Ottoman and German planners hoped to exploit religious sentiment against the British and included in the 4th Army a number of imams for this purpose. A German advisor made the fantastic prediction that 70,000 “Arab nomads” would join their invading Ottoman co-religionists when they reached the canal. The inclusion of a company of Druze, a sect whose beliefs are anathema to mainstream Sunni Islam, however, belies the notion that Sunni fanaticism inspired the offensive.

After skillfully executing a difficult advance across the Sinai to the Suez, the 4th Army launched their attack across the canal on the night of 2 February. Although they achieved tactical surprise, they ran into difficulties at the canal due to improper equipment and a lack of training in water crossings. The British on the opposite bank rushed in reinforcements and repelled those who had made it across. After two days of fighting, Cemal pulled back, having suffered roughly 1,300 casualties.

The offensive had failed in part because Berlin pressured the Ottomans to attack prematurely. Nonetheless, it is doubtful that the offensive would have achieved major results even if the initial assault force had established a bridgehead on the western bank. Ottoman supply lines were long, Ottoman forces limited, and British military and naval power in and around Egypt was substantial. The outbreak of a rebellion in the British rear perhaps could have assisted the assault, but precisely to preclude such a possibility the British had withdrawn their native Egyptian troops to Sudan and deployed British and Indian troops to the canal. Because the Suez offensive resembled the Sarikamish operation in its timing, ambition, and mismatch between objectives and available resources, historians have tended to locate its origins, too, in an emerging ideology of pan-Islam. They overlook the Central Powers’ common interest in cutting British lines of communication and the Ottomans’ particular interest in expelling the British from Egypt, a land to which they had strong historical and cultural ties, and which had formally remained part of their empire until the outbreak of the war. The scale of defeat at the Suez was nothing like that at Sarikamish. The Germans, in fact, were satisfied with the operation despite its collapse because it had compelled the British to retain in Egypt troops they could have deployed to Europe.

The crushing defeat of Sarikamish and the failure at Suez deprived the Ottoman army of any offensive capability at the strategic level. The spring 1915 Anglo-French amphibious assault at Gallipoli, British thrusts into Mesopotamia and Palestine, and the steady advance of the Russian army across Anatolia would keep the Ottomans hard-pressed throughout the next two years. They would manage only limited counteroffensives in Anatolia and Mesopotamia, while also contributing substantial forces to joint operations in the Balkans. Deprived of an army and resources, pan-Islam, too, lost whatever strategic significance it may have possessed. In Iran, the Ottomans, backed by the Germans, made appeals to Muslims to join them in the struggle against the infidel Russians and British, but the larger legions and greater resources of the Entente proved to be more persuasive stimuli for the Muslims of Iran. Following their defeats there was little the Ottomans could do beyond backing the activities of a few individuals, such as Enver’s younger brother Nuri Pasha, who assisted the Sanussi tribesmen’s resistance to the Italians in Tripoli.91 The fact that pan-Islam exerted little pull on Muslims outside the reach of Ottoman or German material support is not insignificant, as it highlights yet again the ideology’s slight power.

Konstantin Borisov Gern and his submarine

Major General Konstantin Borisov Gern also proposed a series of submarine designs for boats to defend Russian Baltic ports and managed to interest the war ministry in constructing at least three different craft between 1855 and 1871. His final design was steam powered and carried a self-propelled torpedo, but, after initially successful trials, the ministry lost interest.