Why Stalin did not take Constantinople and the Black Sea straits

Why Stalin did not take Constantinople and the Black Sea straits
Why Stalin did not take Constantinople and the Black Sea straits

Officially, in World War II, Turkey observed "neutrality" and at the very end of the war on February 23, 1945, declared war on Germany and Japan. The Turkish army did not participate in the hostilities. But this position made it possible to avoid territorial losses and the loss of the Black Sea straits. Stalin planned to punish Turkey, take away from her the Armenian regions lost after the collapse of the Russian Empire, possibly other historical lands of Armenians and Georgians, Constantinople-Constantinople and the strait zone.

However, Britain and the United States have already started the "cold" third world war of the West against the USSR. Washington needed a Turkish army, Turkish territory to locate military bases. Therefore, the West stood up for Turkey. Within the framework of Truman's doctrine "to save Europe from Soviet expansion" and "contain" the USSR around the world, Washington began to provide Turkey with financial and military assistance. Turkey has become a military ally of the United States. In 1952, Turkey became a NATO member.

Soon after Stalin's death, on May 30, 1953, Moscow, in a special note, renounced territorial claims against the Republic of Turkey and requirements for the straits in order to strengthen "peace and security." Then Khrushchev finally destroyed the imperial policy of Russia-USSR. And Turkey, in order to strengthen "peace and security", placed US bases for strategic aviation on its territory in order to bomb Russian cities (including with atomic charges). Since 1959, US ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads have been deployed in Turkey.

In fact, Stalin just returned to solving Russia's thousand-year national task - control over the Straits and Constantinople-Constantinople. The restoration of “Great Armenia”, the reunification of the historical lands of Armenia (and Georgia), the Armenian people within the framework of the Soviet Union also met the national interests of Russia. Turkey was the traditional enemy of Russia, an instrument of the West in the centuries-old war with the Russians. Nothing has changed at the present time.

Why Stalin did not take Constantinople and the Black Sea straits

MG 08 machine guns on the Ai-Sophia minaret in Istanbul as anti-aircraft guns. September 1941

Non-belligerent ally of Hitler

During the outbreak of World War II, a diplomatic struggle between the belligerent powers around Turkey began. First, in 1938, Turkey had a 200,000-strong army (20 infantry and 5 cavalry divisions, other units) and had the opportunity to increase the army to 1 million people. Secondly, the country occupied a strategic position in the Middle East, the Caucasus, in the Black Sea basin, it belonged to the Black Sea straits - the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

Ankara looked to France in the late 1920s and 1930s to hedge its appetite for fascist Italy to build a new Roman Empire in the Mediterranean region. Turkey became a member of the pro-French Balkan Entente, a military-political alliance of Greece, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia, created in 1933 to maintain the status quo in the Balkans. In 1936, the Montreux Convention was approved, which restored Ankara's sovereignty over the straits. Then Ankara pursued a policy of maneuvering between the German bloc and the Anglo-Saxons. Berlin tried to persuade Ankara to a military alliance, but the Turks were careful. In the summer of 1939, Turkey agreed to a tripartite mutual assistance treaty with Great Britain and France.For this, the Turks bargained for concessions to them from the Alexandretta Sanjak, which was part of the Syria under the French mandate. On October 19, 1939, Ankara entered into a British-French-Turkish military alliance of mutual assistance in the event of the transfer of hostilities to the Mediterranean region (after the surrender of France, it acted as a bilateral one between Turkey and England). However, seeing the successes of the Third Reich, Ankara avoided fulfilling its obligations, refusing to act against the German bloc. After the surrender of France in the summer of 1940, the course of the Turkish ruling circles towards rapprochement with Germany became obvious. Which, in general, was logical. Turkey has always supported the leading power in the West.

Four days before the start of the Great Patriotic War, on June 18, 1941, Ankara, at the suggestion of Hitler, signed a Pact of Friendship and Non-Aggression with Germany. As part of cooperation with the German Empire, Turkey supplied the Germans with chromium ore and other strategic raw materials, and also passed German and Italian warships through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. In connection with the attack of the Reich on the USSR, Turkey declared neutrality. Ankara remembered the sad results of the First World War (the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the intervention and the civil war), so they were in no hurry to rush headlong into a new war, preferring to benefit and wait for the right moment when the outcome of the war would be completely obvious.

At the same time, Ankara was clearly preparing for a possible war with Russia. On the proposal of the government, the Turkish parliament allowed the conscription of persons over 60 years of age for military service, to begin mobilization in the eastern vilayets (administrative-territorial unit) of the country. Turkish politicians and the military actively discussed the prospect of a war with Russia. Several infantry corps (24 divisions) of the Turkish army were located on the Soviet-Turkish border. This forced Moscow to keep a significant group on the border with Turkey in order to repel a possible attack by the Turkish army. These forces could not participate in the fight against the Germans, which worsened the military capabilities of the country.

Moscow, despite the hostile policy of Ankara, also did not want aggravation, so as not to fight on the Turkish front as well. Before the war, relations between the USSR and Turkey were even. And in the 1920s, Moscow helped Ataturk with weapons, ammunition and gold, which allowed the Turkish leader to win the civil war, expel the invaders and create a new Turkish state. Good-neighborly relations between the two powers were enshrined in the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the USSR and Turkey, signed in 1925. In 1935, this agreement was renewed for another ten-year term. Therefore, in the period 1941 - 1944. (especially in 1941 - 1942), when Turkey's entry into the war on the side of Germany could seriously worsen the military situation of the USSR, Stalin turned a blind eye to the hostility of the Turks, to border incidents, the concentration of the Turkish army in the Caucasus direction, to economic assistance to the Germans.

Hitler's propaganda tried to push the Turks against the Russians. For this, rumors about territorial claims and the threat to Turkey from the USSR were actively spread. On June 27, 1941, the refutation of TASS emphatically noted "provocatively false statements in Hitler's declaration about the USSR's alleged claims to the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles and about the USSR's alleged intentions to occupy Bulgaria." On August 10, 1941, the USSR and Great Britain made a joint statement that they would respect the Montreux Convention and the territorial integrity of Turkey. Ankara was promised help if it becomes a victim of aggression. Moscow assured the Turkish government that it has no aggressive intentions and claims regarding the Black Sea straits, and that it welcomes Turkey's neutrality.

Back in May 1941, the British brought troops into Iraq and Syria. Now the British forces, stationed from Egypt to India, had a break only in Iran.In August 1941, Russian and British troops occupied Iran, which held a pro-German position. Soviet troops occupied the north of Iran, the British - the south. The appearance of Russian troops in Iranian Azerbaijan caused anxiety in Ankara. The Turkish government was thinking about sending its troops to northern Iran. The Turks pulled a large military group to the border with Russia. In 1941, 17 corps directorates, 43 divisions and 3 separate infantry brigades, 2 cavalry divisions and 1 separate cavalry brigade, as well as 2 mechanized divisions were created in Turkey. True, the Turkish troops were poorly armed. The Turkish army experienced a great shortage of modern weapons and transport. Moscow was forced to keep 25 divisions in Transcaucasia in order to fend off a possible attack by the Turkish, or German-Turkish army. However, the Germans in 1941 could not take Moscow, the strategy of "lightning war" was failed. Therefore, Turkey remained neutral.

In 1942, the situation on the border with Turkey escalated again. Back in January 1942, Berlin told Ankara that on the eve of the German army's offensive in the Caucasus, it would be very valuable to concentrate Turkish troops on the Russian border. Germany was advancing and the possibility of a strike by the Turkish army increased sharply. Turkey is mobilizing and increasing its army to 1 million people. On the border with Russia, a strike force is being formed - more than 25 divisions. As the German ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, von Papen, reported to his government, President Ismet Inonu at the beginning of 1942 assured him that "Turkey is highly interested in the destruction of the Russian colossus." In a conversation with the German ambassador, Turkish Foreign Minister Menemencioglu on August 26, 1942 said: "Turkey, both before and now, is most decisively interested in the fullest possible defeat of Russia …"

It is not surprising that the Soviet Transcaucasian Military District was preparing an offensive operation along the lines of Sarakamysh, Trabzon, Bayburt and Erzurum. In April 1942, the Transcaucasian Front was re-formed under the leadership of Tyulenev (the first formation was in August 1941). The 45th and 46th armies were located on the border in Turkey. The Transcaucasian front during this period was reinforced with new rifle and cavalry units, a tank corps, aviation and artillery regiments, and several armored trains. Soviet troops were preparing for an offensive in Turkish territory. In the summer of 1942, on the Soviet-Turkish and Iranian-Turkish borders, there were several clashes between the Soviet and Turkish border guards, there were casualties. In 1941 - 1942. there were unpleasant situations on the Black Sea. But it didn’t come to war. The Wehrmacht was never able to take Stalingrad. However, Turkey pulled off a significant Soviet grouping, which would obviously be useful in the Stalingrad direction.

In addition, Turkey's economic cooperation with the Reich caused great damage to the USSR. Until April 1944, the Turks sent the Germans an important strategic raw material for the military industry - chromium. For example, according to the trade agreement, only from January 7 to March 31, 1943 Turkey undertook to supply Germany with 41 thousand tons of chrome ore. Only in April 1944, under strong pressure from the USSR, Britain and the United States, Ankara stopped supplying chromium. In addition, Turkey supplied other resources to the Third Reich and Romania - cast iron, copper, food, tobacco and other goods. The share of all countries of the German bloc in the export of the Turkish Republic in 1941 - 1944 fluctuated within 32 - 47%, in imports - 40 - 53%. Germany supplied the Turks with vehicles and weapons. Turkey made good money on supplies to Germany.

Ankara's great service to Berlin was the permission for the ships of the German block to pass through the Black Sea straits. The Turks have repeatedly violated their international obligations in favor of the Germans.The German and Italian fleets, which were taking over the fighting in the Black Sea, calmly used the straits until the summer of 1944. Conventional transports, tankers and high-speed transport ships passed through the straits, which the Germans armed and used as patrolmen, minelayers, anti-submarine ships and air defense ships. As a result, one of the most important communications of the Third Reich passed through the Crimea, the Danube, the ports of Romania, the straits and further to the occupied Greece, Italy and France during the war.

In order not to formally violate the Montreux convention, German and other ships sailed under trade flags, while they were in the straits, weapons were temporarily removed, hidden or masked. Military sailors wore civilian clothes. The Turks "saw" only in June 1944, after the threats of the great powers and when the defeat of Germany in the war became obvious.

At the same time, the Turkish authorities decisively prevented Britain and the United States from transporting weapons, equipment, strategic materials and even provisions through the Black Sea straits to the USSR. As a result, the Allies had to conduct deliveries on longer and more complex routes through Persia, Murmansk and the Far East. Ankara's pro-German position prevented the passage of anti-Hitler coalition merchant ships through the straits. The British Navy and the Russian Black Sea Fleet could practically convoy merchant ships, but they did not, as it could cause a war with Turkey.

Thus, Stalin had good reason to ask some unpleasant questions to Turkey. The USSR had more than enough reasons for a war with Turkey. And these events could well have ended with the Istanbul offensive operation and the Russian red banner over Constantinople. The restoration of historical Armenia. The Turkish army was poorly trained and armed, did not have the vast combat experience of the Russians and their officer corps. The Red Army was in the Balkans in the fall of 1944 and could easily make a rush to Constantinople. The Turks had nothing to answer to our aviation, T-34 and IS tanks, self-propelled guns, powerful artillery. Plus the Black Sea Fleet: the battleship Sevastopol, 4 cruisers, 6 destroyers, 13 patrol boats, 29 submarines, dozens of torpedo boats, minesweepers, gunboats and hundreds of naval combat aircraft. The Russians could take the straits and Constantinople from the territory of Bulgaria in a week. Neither Germany, nor Britain and the United States at this time could have placed the Soviet army on a century-old historical mission. However, the opportunity was not used. And Ankara hurried in advance and found new patrons.


Second President of Turkey (1938-1950) Ismet Inonu

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