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Empires at War1911-1923$
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Robert Gerwarth and Erez Manela

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702511

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702511.001.0001

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The Russian Empire

The Russian Empire

(p.91) 5 The Russian Empire
Empires at War

Joshua Sanborn

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the rapid collapse of the Russian Empire during the First World War. The author argues that the Russian Empire was relatively strong and stable on the eve of the war, but that the situation disintegrated rapidly after 1914. Martial law and military occupations crippled the civilian functions of the state, radical ethno-political strategies undermined the multi-ethnic nature of the old regime empire, and the social and economic disaster brought about by the military defeats of 1915 undermined authority at the local and metropolitan levels alike. The Russian Revolution of 1917 dealt the final blow to the tottering state, and a chaotic period of decolonization ensued. Over the course of the Russian Civil War and the many borderland clashes that followed, a new geopolitical space was created.

Keywords:   Russia, Soviet Union, empire, decolonization, First World War, military, state failure

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