Alleged usage of chemical weapons in Russia by the British

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Alleged usage of chemical weapons in Russia by the British

Post by Sergey » 19 Sep 2007 06:36

There are some allegations that British forces used chemical weapons against Bolshevik troops in 1919

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_United ... estruction
After the war, the Royal Air Force dropped mustard gas on Bolshevik troops in 1919
http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/pastuse.htm
1919 [CW] - British use Adamsite against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War
Both Russia and the United Kingdom were (in 1919) high contracting parties of the Hague 1907 convention

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 802#625802

According to the convention

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 802#625802
Art. 23.
In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden -

To employ poison or poisoned weapons;


In the context of this theme mr.Thompson asked some questions.
David Thompson wrote:(3) Finally I asked, after telling you that a discussion of the 1919 use of poison gas by British forces against Soviet troops in 1919 was off-topic in a discussion of the use of poison gas by Soviet forces against Russian insurgents in 1921:

You are invited to open a separate thead on the British use of poison gas against Bolshevik forces in 1919 as a war crime. When you do, please establish the following propositions in your opening post, giving your sources:

(a) There was an ongoing war between the Russian Empire and Great Britain;
As I'm aware there was no formally declared state of war between the UK and Russia. However, there was military confrontation, a war de facto.

Still British military cemetery exist in Nothern Russian city of Murmansk (on Cola peninsula)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russian/russia ... 187554.stm

There are 44 graves here. British frocaes occupaied also another key city of Arkhangelsk.
David Thompson wrote:(b) The war between the Russian Empire and Great Britain did not involve any nations other than those which were "contracting powers" to the 1907 Hague IV Convention; and
It was a war between Russia and the UK. Along with British also American, French and Japanese troops invaded Russia that time.
David Thompson wrote:(c) In 1919 the Soviet government was the only internationally recognized and legal government of the former Russian Empire.
No, Western powers actively supported government of general Kolchak (insiberia). However, this government collapsed in 1919.

In 1918 Soviet government signed separate peace agreement with Germany and established diplomatic relations.
David Thompson wrote:You did not answer any of these questions directly, and gave no sources for your claim:
Soviet government was de facto government of Russia.
Why do I think that Soviet government was de facto Russian government. Soviet government in 1919 controlled Huge areas of Russia, controlled former (Petrograd) and new Russian capital Moscow. Soviet government had own military forces and in 1919 controlled Murmansk and Arkhangels - cities where British forces landed.Other than Soviet Russian so called 'governments' wer short-living, controlled only small or remote parts of the country. By any standards they can't be regarded as central Russian governments.

They are well-known historical facts.

The details could be found here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_civil_war

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Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Sep 2007 14:06

In 1918 Soviet government signed separate peace agreement with Germany and established diplomatic relations.
Incorrect. Brest-Litovsk was negotiated - or rather dictated, Lenin had this strange way of negotiating...he refused contact with the Germans for long periods, and allowed The German Army to move further into Russia! - between the Bolsheviks and the German government before the Kaiser's abdication. The wording of the treaty was negated by the Kaiser's abdication, and there were NO diplomatic relations between the successor Weimar Government and Moscow. This had to LATER be rectified by the Treaty of Rapallo of 1922. In 1919 there was NO peace treaty and NO diplomatic relations with the Weimar Republic

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Post by Sergey » 19 Sep 2007 15:07

phylo_roadking wrote:
In 1918 Soviet government signed separate peace agreement with Germany and established diplomatic relations.
Incorrect. Brest-Litovsk was negotiated - or rather dictated, Lenin had this strange way of negotiating...he refused contact with the Germans for long periods, and allowed The German Army to move further into Russia! - between the Bolsheviks and the German government before the Kaiser's abdication. The wording of the treaty was negated by the Kaiser's abdication...
So what is incorrect? I wrote that

1. There was Soviet governemtn in Russia in 1918 and later.
2. It negotiated with German government (maybe in a strange way).
3. The peace agreement was signed.
4. Both sides exchanged by ambassadors, established diplomatic relation.

It shows that in 1918 Soviet governent was the only power in Russia that was able to negotiate with the main enemy in WW1. So Soviet government was de facto Russian government.
phylo_roadking wrote:..., and there were NO diplomatic relations between the successor Weimar Government and Moscow.
I hadn't made opposite statement.
phylo_roadking wrote:This had to LATER be rectified by the Treaty of Rapallo of 1922. In 1919 there was NO peace treaty and NO diplomatic relations with the Weimar Republic
Of course it is right.

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Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Sep 2007 16:21

1. There was Soviet governemtn in Russia in 1918 and later.


There was a Bolshevik Russian government. It was this government that negotiated with the Germans. "The Soviet government" could by definition NOT exist before it was recreated on December 29th, 1922, or ratified in 1924, could it?
4. Both sides exchanged by ambassadors, established diplomatic relation.
Not correct - incomplete. Diplomatic relations were in abeyance again.
It shows that in 1918 Soviet governent was the only power in Russia that was able to negotiate with the main enemy in WW1
The Bolshevik Russian government was the only power with any control over the fragmenting Western armies facing the German Army, which was why it was negotiated with, NOT because it was the national government. There was NO national Soviet government until 1922.
In 1918 Soviet government signed separate peace agreement with Germany and established diplomatic relations
NEITHER treaty nor diplomatic relations were any longer in place by 1919, which is the time period of your thread.

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Post by Sergey » 19 Sep 2007 17:08

phylo_roadking wrote:
1. There was Soviet governemtn in Russia in 1918 and later.


There was a Bolshevik Russian government. It was this government that negotiated with the Germans. "The Soviet government" could by definition NOT exist before it was recreated on December 29th, 1922, or ratified in 1924, could it?
4. Both sides exchanged by ambassadors, established diplomatic relation.
Not correct - incomplete. Diplomatic relations were in abeyance again.
It shows that in 1918 Soviet governent was the only power in Russia that was able to negotiate with the main enemy in WW1
The Bolshevik Russian government was the only power with any control over the fragmenting Western armies facing the German Army, which was why it was negotiated with, NOT because it was the national government. There was NO national Soviet government until 1922.
In 1918 Soviet government signed separate peace agreement with Germany and established diplomatic relations
NEITHER treaty nor diplomatic relations were any longer in place by 1919, which is the time period of your thread.
I understand your point. You believe that the term 'Soviet government' can be used toward Bolshevik government only after the creation of the Soviet union. It is a question of terminology. In Soviet and Russian historigraphics a term 'Soviet government' is used in the more wide context. As Bolshevik government was founded on the Soviets (= Coucils of deputates) then the new regime was initially (just after the revolution) called as Soviet power (Sovetskaya vlast) even before the formal creation of the Soviet union. So Soviet and Russian historians use a term Soviet government toward Bolshevik government as well (both before and after the creation of the Soviet union).

Well, let's use a term Bolshevik government.

So I think that Bolshevik government was national Russian government after October 1917 revolution de facto (for reasons I mentioned above).

Apparently you disagree with this statement. Then what body do you regard as a de facto Russian government that time?

PS. Indeed there were no diplomatic relations between Russia and Germany in 1919. But previously Bolshevik government was recognised by Germany. It backs my point that Bolshevik government was de facto Russian government.

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Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Sep 2007 19:17

PS. Indeed there were no diplomatic relations between Russia and Germany in 1919. But previously Bolshevik government was recognised by Germany. It backs my point that Bolshevik government was de facto Russian government.
Germany offically broke off diplomatic relations on November 5th, 1918. The Bolshevik government - the VTslK - ALSO repudiated the treaty officially on November 13th - text of the repudiation printed in Pravada on November 14th, 1918 - and I believe you'll find that in there the VTslK broke off relations too.

So , before we move on -
In 1918 Soviet government signed separate peace agreement with Germany and established diplomatic relations.
categorically does not apply to the situation.

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Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Sep 2007 19:20

David, is the following quote
Art. 23.
In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden -

To employ poison or poisoned weapons
only applicable "in time of war"?

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Post by Sergey » 19 Sep 2007 19:53

phylo_roadking wrote:
PS. Indeed there were no diplomatic relations between Russia and Germany in 1919. But previously Bolshevik government was recognised by Germany. It backs my point that Bolshevik government was de facto Russian government.
Germany offically broke off diplomatic relations on November 5th, 1918. The Bolshevik government - the VTslK - ALSO repudiated the treaty officially on November 13th - text of the repudiation printed in Pravada on November 14th, 1918 - and I believe you'll find that in there the VTslK broke off relations too.

So , before we move on -
In 1918 Soviet government signed separate peace agreement with Germany and established diplomatic relations.
categorically does not apply to the situation.
So you agree with this statement, that Bolshevik government signed the peace agreement with Germany in 1918. I used it to demonstrate that Bolshevik government was in 1918 and later de facto central Russian government.

In the context of our discussion it's importants to understand that the British used chemical weapons against governmental troops.

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Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Sep 2007 20:17

Er - no.
So you agree with this statement, that Bolshevik government signed the peace agreement with Germany in 1918. I used it to demonstrate that Bolshevik government was in 1918 and later de facto central Russian government.

In the context of our discussion it's importants to understand that the British used chemical weapons against governmental troops.
...is a complete non sequiter. ONLY Germany "recognised", and only for the lifetime of Brest-Litovsk. One nation alone negotiating with a government does NOT make it the de facto national government to the rest of the world, ONLY to the negotiating government. As far as Britain was concerned there was NO Russian government between the collapse of the
Kolchak regime and the British Government recognition of the new USSR in 1924.So as for...
the British used chemical weapons against governmental troops.
...the answer is "Not as far as they were concerned"

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Post by David Thompson » 19 Sep 2007 20:42

phylo -- You asked:
David, is the following quote
Art. 23.
In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden -

To employ poison or poisoned weapons
only applicable "in time of war"?
My understanding of the Hague IV Convention of 1907 is that it only applies to wars between nations. The text of the convention states:
IV
CONVENTION RESPECTING THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR ON LAND

Seeing that, while seeking means to preserve peace and prevent armed conflicts between nations, it is likewise necessary to bear in mind the case where the appeal to arms has been brought about by events which their care was unable to avert;

Animated by the desire to serve, even in this extreme case, the interests of humanity and the ever progressive needs of civilization;

Thinking it important, with this object, to revise the general laws and customs of war, either with a view to defining them with greater precision or to confining them within such limits as would mitigate their severity as far as possible;

Have deemed it necessary to complete and explain in certain particulars the work of the First Peace Conference, which, following on the Brussels Conference of 1874, and inspired by the ideas dictated by a wise and generous forethought, adopted provisions intended to define and govern the usages of war on land.

According to the views of the High Contracting Parties, these provisions, the wording of which has been inspired by the desire to diminish the evils of war, as far as military requirements permit, are intended to serve as a general rule of conduct for the belligerents in their mutual relations and in their relations with the inhabitants.

It has not, however, been found possible at present to concert regulations covering all the circumstances which arise in practice;

On the other hand, the High Contracting Parties clearly do not intend that unforeseen cases should, in the absence of a written undertaking, be left to the arbitrary judgment of military commanders.

Until a more complete code of the laws of war has been issued, the High Contracting Parties deem it expedient to declare that, in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, the inhabitants and the belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles of the law of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and the dictates of the public conscience.
Hague IV - Laws and Customs of War on Land: 18 October 1907
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm (emphasis added).

See also:
Article 1.
The Contracting Powers shall issue instructions to their armed land forces which shall be in conformity with the Regulations respecting the laws and customs of war on land, annexed to the present Convention.

Art. 2.
The provisions contained in the Regulations referred to in Article 1, as well as in the present Convention, do not apply except between Contracting Powers, and then only if all the belligerents are parties to the Convention.
Last edited by David Thompson on 19 Sep 2007 21:01, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Sep 2007 21:00

Okay,

Britain did not recognize the VTslK as a government, nor that area controlled by it as a nation;

It either recognized the Kolchak government, or after it nothing at all until February, 1924;

The Hague Conventions as I suspected ONLY apply to nations and in time of war between said nations;

There was NO war between the government of Great Britain and the VTslK;


So on any one of those grounds separately - the use of gas was NOT a War Crime. All FOUR make it pretty cut-and-dried.

P.S. just for information - and this has been discussed elsewhere as David can confirm - the Hague and later Geneva Conventions were always taken in literal terms, the was NO element of de facto in their interpretation.

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Post by David Thompson » 20 Sep 2007 03:15

Some observations:

(1) I'm not having much luck finding any primary source documents on the alleged use of gas by the British against Bolshevik forces in 1919. So far, we're lacking basic facts like dates and places.

(a) The footnote to this claim:
After the war, the Royal Air Force dropped mustard gas on Bolshevik troops in 1919, and Winston Churchill, secretary of state for war and air, suggested that the RAF use it in Iraq in 1920 during a major revolt there. Historians are divided as to whether or not gas was in fact used.[5]
from the wikipedia article "United Kingdom and weapons of mass destruction" at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_United ... estruction , leads to a collection of recent BBC News articles about Iraq.

(b) The footnote to this claim:
1919 [CW] - British use Adamsite against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War.[17]
on this site:

Chemical & Biological Weapons Resource Page
http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/pastuse.htm#N_17_

takes the reader to this article: 17. Thomas, A. No. 1: Effects of Chemical Warfare: A selective review and bibliography of British state papers (Taylor & Francis: London, 1985); SIPRI, The Rise of CB Weapons, 141.
which is now out of print and seems to be unavailable on the internet.

(c) This claim:
Nevertheless, in the following years, chemical weapons were used in several, mainly colonial, wars where one side had an advantage in equipment over the other. The British used adamsite against Russian revolutionary troops in 1919 and mustard against Iraqi insurgents in the 1920s; Spain used chemical weapons in Morocco against Rif tribesmen throughout the 1920s[18] and Italy used mustard gas in Libya in 1930 and again during its invasion of Ethiopia in 1936.[19]
from the wikipedia article "Poison gas in World War I" at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poison_gas ... HD.shtml_0
does not source the claim for British poison gas use in the Soviet Union.

(d) The claim is repeated at:

The Final Frontier: Science, America, and Terror by Dominick Jenkins, p. 71
http://books.google.com/books?id=dCeOP3 ... z-NSpO2QFs

Century of biological and chemical weapons
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1562534.stm

Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs by Noam Chomsky, p. 26
http://books.google.com/books?id=4ErRaU ... MBqjzuhPZc

but none of the references have a footnote to some original source.

(e) The Poisonous Cloud: Chemical Warfare in the First World War by L. F. (Ludwig Fritz) Haber, p. 307 does have some detail on the incident or incidents, but he says:
“It sounds unbelievable and I have found no corroboration.”
http://books.google.com/books?id=T18BxF ... Mn3-ZmR628

(2) There is another problem with treating this alleged use of poison gas as a war crime under the 1907 Hague IV Convention. As referenced above, the convention states:
Art. 2.
The provisions contained in the Regulations referred to in Article 1, as well as in the present Convention, do not apply except between Contracting Powers, and then only if all the belligerents are parties to the Convention.

According to wikipedia, the armed forces of the following nations intervened in the Russian civil war:

50,000 Czechoslovaks[4] (along the Trans-Siberian railway)
28,000 Japanese (later increased to 70,000[5], all in the Vladivostok region)
24,000 Greeks (in Crimea and the Ukraine)
13,000 Americans (in Archangel and Vladivostok regions)
12,000 Poles (mostly in Crimea and the Ukraine)
4,000 Canadians (in Archangel and Vladivostok regions)
4,000 Serbs (in Archangel and Vladivostok regions)
4,000 Romanians (in Archangel region)
2,000 Italians (in Archangel and Vladivostok regions)
1,600 British (in Archangel and Vladivostok regions)
760 French (mostly in Archangel and Vladivostok regions)

Allied intervention in the Russian civil war
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_Int ... _Civil_War

Of these countries, the following nations did not ratify the 1907 Hague IV Convention:

Czechoslovakia (Austria-Hungary signed the convention in 1907 and ratified it in 1909; but that national entity was extinguished in Oct 1918).
Greece (signed 1907, but did not ratify)
Poland (ratified 1925, after the alleged use of poison gas in 1919)
Serbia (signed 1907, but did not ratify)
Italy (signed 1907, but did not ratify)

Signatories to the Hague IV Convention of 1907
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 802#625802
Last edited by David Thompson on 20 Sep 2007 05:46, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Sergey » 20 Sep 2007 05:46

Mr.Thompson, personally I begin to doubt was usage of chemical weapons in Russia by the British ever took place. I tried hard to find even one mention about it in Russian. In vain. It is a very strange.

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Post by David Thompson » 20 Sep 2007 05:47

Truly. Thanks, Sergey.

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Post by Peter H » 20 Sep 2007 05:59

For the record French intervention was more than 760 men:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=48839


Much Ado About Nothing: Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War

http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economic ... uchado.htm

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