Ambassador of Germany to the Ukrainian State Baron Alphonse Mumm von Schwarzenstein. Portrait of the work of Philippe Alexis de Laszlo. Source - Ukrainian interest
Ambassador of Germany to the Ukrainian State Baron Alphonse Mumm von Schwarzenstein. Portrait of the work of Philippe Alexis de Laszlo. Source - Ukrainian interest

Claims of the governments of Ukraine to the Crimea


After Germany finally occupied the peninsula on May 1, 1918, the question arose as to which state Crimea should belong to. There were plenty of different forces in the political arena that claimed supremacy in resolving this issue. Each of them looked at the Crimean Tatars and their place in political life in their own way.

Prime Minister of the Ukrainian People's Republic Vsevolod Golubovich. He defended the affiliation of Crimea to Ukraine. Photo from the newspaper "Renaissance" (Kyiv, issue 10 of April 7, 1918). Source -
Prime Minister of the Ukrainian People’s Republic Vsevolod Golubovich. He defended the affiliation of Crimea to Ukraine. Photo from the newspaper “Renaissance” (Kyiv, issue 10 of April 7, 1918). Source –

From May 1918 to June 1919, there were two warehouses of the Crimean regional government on the peninsula. However, the real power was exercised by the military forces that directed the activities of these governments. The activities of the first government (until the autumn of 1918), backed by German troops, are notable primarily for their efforts to create an independent state on the peninsula. As for the actions of the second regional government, which relied on the troops of the Entente and the Volunteer Army, it, in contrast to the first, supported the idea of ​​creating a “single and indivisible” Russia. Separately in this process were the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian movements.

After the October coup, the leaders of the Central Rada were forced to change their priorities. The federalist attitude prevailing among most Ukrainian politicians had to undergo radical changes. Initially, the representatives of the Ukrainian national government came up with the idea of ​​creating a federal union from various organizational entities that emerged in the former Russian Empire. Thus, in a conversation between M. Porsche and S. Petliura, which took place on December 20, 1917, the question was raised about the need to create “national power through the joint efforts of the People’s Council, the General Secretariat, the governments of Siberia, Moldavia, Crimea, the South-Eastern Union, etc. .d. ». These proposals were sent to the Bolshevik Council of People’s Commissars, but the latter “did not even consider it necessary to respond to this proposal.”

The course of the Russian-Ukrainian war led to a complete change in the attitude of the leaders of the Ukrainian People’s Republic to Soviet Russia and the determination of their own place among the ruins of the former empire. The Federalists became independents. The Central Rada changed its attitude to Crimea on the issue of its political affiliation. On February 14, 1918, at a meeting of the Council of People’s Ministers of the UPR, it was decided to agree to sign peace with Russia only on condition that “Crimea remains under the influence of Ukraine” and “the entire fleet (including trade) in the Black Sea belongs only to Ukraine.”


Pavlo Skoropadsky and Suleyman Sulkevych Photo: Ukrainian interest / Vladyslav Nedashkivsky
Pavlo Skoropadsky and Suleyman Sulkevych Photo: Ukrainian interest / Vladyslav Nedashkivsky

The UPR government’s plans for Crimea did not coincide not only with the plans of its enemy, Soviet Russia, but also with the plans of Germany, which also wanted to subjugate the peninsula. In March 1918, the Imperial Minister of Foreign Affairs G. Boucher, when asked about the borders of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, stated that the Tavriya province without the Crimea belonged to it.After the signing of the Brest Peace Treaty with the countries of the Quaternary Union by the government of the Ukrainian People’s Republic on February 9, 1918, Ukrainian statehood received de jure status. Crimean historian A. Ivanets emphasized: ” After the proclamation of independence, the UPR took a pragmatic position on the Crimean issue – it tried to include Sevastopol, to declare the Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet, and in the rest of the territory was to be proclaimed a state under the protectorate of Ukraine .”

The Chief of the Austrian General Staff of the Occupation Troops in Ukraine, Lieutenant General A. Artsz, wrote in a report to the Austrian Foreign Minister S. Burian: “ … Germany’s main interests are directed to India through Ukraine and Crimea. … The way to the East goes through Kyiv, Katerynoslav and Sevastopol, from where the sea connection to Batum and Trabzon begins. In my opinion, the Germans intend to leave Crimea as their colony or in some other form for this purpose. They will never let go of the valuable Crimean peninsula. In addition, in order to take full advantage of this path, they need to own the railway or establish their dominant influence on it. Since it is impossible to supply coal from Germany to this highway and the Black Sea, it needs to take possession of the most important mines in Donbass . ”

At the end of April 1918, when the Bolshevik Republic of Taurida ended its existence, the dominant position on the peninsula was taken by German troops. The occupation of the Crimean peninsula was carried out jointly by Ukrainian-German troops. But immediately after that, the German command ordered the Ukrainian troops to leave Crimea.

This order, by the way, caused great dissatisfaction on the part of the local population. Captain B. Monkevych wrote: “The local population always showed their sympathy for the Ukrainian army, asked them to stay, not to leave the Crimea, and promised to side with the Zaporizhia people in case of a struggle. Such proposals came not only from the Ukrainian population, but also from the Tatar. Even the workers sent a delegation stating that they were already preparing for an armed struggle. The Tatars simply asked to start an armed struggle, because the Germans allegedly had no right to make such demands on the Ukrainian army on their land . ”

At the same time, German politicians were in no hurry to put an end to the UPR’s efforts to annex Crimea. Germany was afraid to show its attitude to the Central Rada too early, as this could jeopardize Ukraine’s food and raw material supplies, which Germany and Austria-Hungary desperately needed to continue the war with the Entente. Such maneuvering allowed the UPR government to insist on resolving its territorial disputes with Soviet Russia and to further demand the annexation of Crimea.

The Ottoman Empire also claimed Crimea. The Turks tried to use the events of the civil war to take Crimea under their own protectorate. The slogan of Tatar independence was used for this purpose.

Meanwhile, the Soviet People’s Commissar decided to create a Soviet republic in Crimea and separate the peninsula from both Ukraine and the Ottoman Empire. During the existence of the Republic of Tavrida, on April 17, 1918, a delegate meeting of representatives of coastal and judicial units of workshops took place in Sevastopol, during which a member of the Centroflot Ermolin said: ” … A telegram was received from the Turkish command to the interests of the German-Turks. We did not respond to this telegram because our situation has not been clarified, whether we will fight or not . “

In early April 1918, A. Slutsky asked the Moscow leaders to confirm the fact that “Crimea does not go to Ukraine.” In response, People’s Commissar for Nationalities J. Stalin telegraphed that rumors that Crimea was leaving for Ukraine were untrue, because “according to the document we have, neither the German government nor Kyiv claim Crimea, they take only the mainland. Tavriya province.

The naive belief of Ukrainian politicians that the neighboring countries would honestly fulfill their own signed international terms of the treaty gave the Central Rada hope for its own victory. Therefore, she continued to fight for the establishment of its influence in the Crimea.

Ambassador of Germany to the Ukrainian State Baron Alphonse Mumm von Schwarzenstein. Portrait of the work of Philippe Alexis de Laszlo. Source - Ukrainian interest
Ambassador of Germany to the Ukrainian State Baron Alphonse Mumm von Schwarzenstein. Portrait of the work of Philippe Alexis de Laszlo. Source – Ukrainian interest

The fact that the population of the peninsula sincerely waited for the “Ukrainian brothers” was later mentioned by many Bolsheviks who witnessed these events. I. Semenov said: ” On the same day (April 20, – ed.) I told the Simferopol People’s Commissar that the fleet can not be relied on, because three-quarters of sailors were repainted in yellow and it is unlikely in case of failure can be evacuated to military courts . ” This was testified by A. Vasiliev, who in 1922 recalled the events of April 1918. He wrote that when he arrived in Kerch, the commandant of the local fortress Daugol told him: “We will not be able to defend ourselves from anyone, neither the defense nor the evacuation of Kerch. If the Bolsheviks do not like the fact that Ukrainians go to the Crimea, then let them flee wherever they want – we will not hinder them in this, but we will not allow them to take valuables and food out of Kerch . “Confidence in the success of the struggle was given to her by the fact that a delegation from the Crimean Tatars arrived in Katerynoslav (where in April 1918 there were Ukrainian troops who went to the Crimea with the Germans). She declared “readiness to join the Ukrainian state when they are assured of their national and cultural rights.” When Ukrainian troops entered the peninsula, delegations from many Crimean cities came to meet them, declaring that they were “impatiently waiting for Ukrainians because they were fed up with the Bolshevik bacchanalia.”

Later, in the 1930s, contemporaries of those events spoke more cautiously, adhering to “class-correct” rhetoric. J. Gaven wrote in 1930 that the Haidamaks were not supported by the entire proletariat of the Crimea, but only by a small part of those who “fell” under the vicious propaganda of class enemies. However, he acknowledged: ” When German troops and Haidamaks began to make their way through Perekop, the revolutionary unstable part of the Crimean proletariat came under the influence of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who promised peace, tranquility, order and all the benefits of democracy.” -German flags… ».

V. Yelagin in the mid-1930s also mentioned that the Tatars sincerely welcomed any information about the approach of Ukrainian troops, remembering that the Central Rada had supported their national liberation movement throughout the previous period. After all, Yelagin noted, “ Ukrainian nationalists acted with great success in full contact with the native National Democrats. Yes, in the Crimea, no performance of the Tatars was without their moral support. In the struggle against Bolshevism, in which the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar peoples were involved by the nationalists, the roles were distributed in such a way that the Tatars, defeated in January 1918 by the Sevastopol Military Revolutionary Committee, played an unsuccessful prologue, and the Ukrainians a successful epilogue. in April of the same year in the capture of Crimea by the Germans . ”

Thus, the support of Ukrainians from the Crimean population was quite large. On April 15, 1918, by order of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, government official Ya. Khrystych was sent to Simferopol to establish a branch of the Information Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. Khrystych’s duty was to disseminate among the population of Crimea information about the policy of the Ukrainian government, its laws, and “in general to work there to bring Crimea closer to Ukraine.”

On April 19, the Council of People’s Ministers of the Ukrainian People’s Republic considered a letter from German Ambassador A. von Mumm “on the Black Sea Fleet.” In this regard, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs undertook to reply to Baron Mumma: by law of the Central Council the Black Sea Fleet was declared to belong to the UPR, and the Government of Ukraine ” asked to help him free the ships from to obey the Ukrainian government, because the Ukrainian navy is not opposed to the German military. Because of this, the Council of People’s Ministers notes that those ships that are now under the control of criminal elements against the German military forces are considered a naval prize .

Control of Crimea was in the hands of German General Robert von Kosch. German laws and justice were introduced in the Crimea. On May 31, Kosch announced that residents who did not obey the orders of the command would be punished under the laws of a German field court.


Order №1 of the German commandant of Simferopol, April 1918
Order №1 of the German commandant of Simferopol, April 1918

The German government did not want to give this very convenient strategic bridgehead to anyone. Therefore, the Germans used Universal III, where the Crimean peninsula was not included in the Ukrainian People’s Republic, as a formal reason for refusal.A coup d’etat took place in Kyiv on April 29. Unlike the Central Rada, P. Skoropadsky’s government immediately raised the issue of the peninsula’s affiliation. On May 10, Skoropadsky sent a note to Mumma, in which he wrote: “ Ukraine could not become a strong state without Crimea, and especially from the economic point of view it would be weak. So unnaturally cut off from the sea, Ukraine would have to increase its efforts to capture this sea coast, and at the same time there would be strained relations with the state to which the possession of Crimea would be transferred . ”

But the government of the Ukrainian state was not going to give up. On May 30, a new note was sent to the German ambassador stating: “Crimea is closely connected economically, politically and ethnographically with the life and population of Ukraine. The Ukrainian state, for its part, will never be able to develop normally without a connection with Crimea. However, when the Third Universal of the Ukrainian National Republic was proclaimed, it was stated that only the northern Tauride without the Crimea belonged to the Ukrainian State. But, first of all, the Universal mentioned only the main parts of the Ukrainian territory, bearing in mind that its lands, in which the Ukrainian people do not have an absolute majority, will join later спосіб The Ukrainian Republic was considered only as a federal part of Russia. Similarly, Crimea, if it joined Ukraine voluntarily, would also have to be a federal unit of Russia,and thus the authors of the Third Universal understood that the Ukrainian state did not lose its connection with Crimea, this strategic and economic outpost of Ukraine. Now that Ukraine has finally embarked on the path of complete political independence, ties with Crimea, as a failed federal unit of the All-Russian Federation, may be severed. And so now, when the Ukrainian troops with the help of our friendly German army captured the Crimea in their hands, the question arose about the accession of Crimea to the Ukrainian Statewhen Ukrainian troops with the help of friendly German troops captured Crimea in their hands, the question arose about the accession of Crimea to the Ukrainian Statewhen Ukrainian troops with the help of friendly German troops captured Crimea in their hands, the question arose about the annexation of Crimea to the Ukrainian State». According to the Hetman’s government, Crimea should have joined Ukraine as an autonomous region.

The rights to the Crimean peninsula were also claimed by the government of Soviet Russia. May 8, 1918 the German Ambassador was handed a note to the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs G. Chicherin wrote: ” Capture German troops through Russian Black Sea Fleet military performance across Crimea in Sevastopol is in the sharpest contradiction of Brest-Litovsk treaty. The occupation of Crimea contradicts the statement of the German government itself that Ukraine should include the Tavriya province, but without Crimea . “

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Tetiana Bikova

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Scientist of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

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