|Part of World War I and Russian Civil War|
|Abkhazians within Georgia||Kuban-Black Sea Soviet Republic|
Sochi conflict was a three-party border conflict which involved the counterrevolutionary White Russian forces, Bolshevik Red Army and the Democratic Republic of Georgia each of which sought the control over the Black Sea town Sochi and the adjacent region. The conflict was fought as a part of the Russian civil war and lasted with varying success from July 1918 to May 1919, and ended through the British mediation effectively establishing the current official border between Russia and Georgia.
The disputed area had been inhabited by Megrelians, subethnic Georgians, an Abkhaz-Adyghe tribe, Zygs, since ancient times.
Georgian claims came from the fact that the area was politically dominated by the medieval kingdom of Georgia at the height of its prestige and strength, and then came under the rule of a successor, the Kingdom of Imereti and, eventually, the Principality of Abkhazia. The area of increasing tourist interest, part of this region was detached by the Tsar’s decree of December 25, 1904, from the Sukhumi district (Kutaisi guberniya) to become part of the Black Sea guberniya. The Black Sea district was only thinly inhabited since the Russian Empire took control of the area forcing thousands of locals to become Muhajirs. The region was also inhabited by a significant number of Armenians and Georgians. The Russian general Denikin and his colleagues insisted, however, that the border between Georgia (though not yet recognized by either White or Soviet leadership) and the White-controlled Kuban Republic should be that between the former Russian guberniyas of Kutais and Black Sea, i.e. slightly in the north to the Bzyb River.
The conflict was preceded by a pro-Bolshevik revolt in Abkhazia that made the local post-revolution government, Abkhazian People’s Council, to request aid from the Democratic Republic of Georgia and to join it as an autonomous entity (June 8, 1918). A Georgian force under Major General Giorgi Mazniashvili was deployed in the region and joined by an Abkhaz cavalry provided by local nobility. Mazniashvili repulsed a Bolshevik offensive from Sochi direction late in June and, following to the instructions from Abkhazian and Georgian authorities, advanced northward in order to liquidate a Bolshevik base which provided help to the Communist soldiers. The Georgian military operation, encouraged also by a German military mission, resulted in the occupation of Adler (3 July), Sochi (6 July), and Tuapse (27 July) along the Black Sea coastline. Mazniashvili was soon ordered to take control of the Tuapse-Maikop railway line and coordinate his actions with the White Russian Kuban government and Denikin’s Volunteer Army waging an all-out war against the Red armies in South Russia. Initially, Georgia regarded the White forces as allies against the common threats from the Bolshevist Moscow. This cooperation was, however, soon clouded by Denikin’s calls for the reunited “Great Russia” with the Caucasus as its integral part. Early in September, the Georgians were forced out from Tuapse by the retreating Taman Red Army pursued by Denikin’s forces. Soon the White units took control of the town on September 8 forcing the Bolsheviks to retreat further toward Armavir. On September 18, a Council for Sochi (a legislature formed by the local Mensheviks and SRs in August) declared the unification of the city and its district to the Democratic Republic of Georgia as a “temporary measure” against the threats from both Lenin and Denikin. The annexation by Georgia followed immediately and caused an acute protest from the leaders of the White forces. On September 25, 1918, the White leaders and representatives of the DRG met in Ekaterinodar to find a peaceful solution to the dispute. Denikin demanded that the Georgians withdraw back to the Bzyb river. An agreement was not achieved and the Whites halted the negotiations next day. The same day Denikin captured Lazarevskaya at the northern outskirts of Sochi but he was unable to take full control over the region until the Red Army was defeated in North Caucasus. On February 6, 1919 the Georgian troops were forced back to the Bzyb river with their commander General Konyev (Koniashvili), and his staff captured by the Russians at Gagra. Georgia sent reinforcements, but the British representatives intervened establishing a demarcation line along the Bzyb. The captured Georgian officers were released.
On March 14, 1919 a Georgian delegation presented at Paris peace conference a project of the borders of the country in which it demanded a part of the former Black Sea province up to the small river Makopse 14 km southeast to the town Tuapse. The negotiations, however, yielded no results. On April 12, 1919, a Sukhumi-based Georgian People’s Guard and army units under General Mazniashvili launched a counteroffensive. Avoiding the British peacekeeping posts at the Bzyb river, they retook Gagra after a bloody clash and, in cooperation with the “Green” Russian guerillas, moved to the Makhadyr river. The British intervention however halted the Georgian advance. A new demarcation line was established south to Adler, on the Psou River. Along the border, a British expeditionary force took positions to prevent further outbreak of the war. On May 23–24, Georgian, Russian Volunteers’ and British representatives met in Tbilisi to find a peace resolution. Actually, this was the end of the conflict. Occasional skirmishes occurred, however, until the late 1919. The establishment of the current official Russian-Georgian border along the Psou was perhaps the main outcome of the Sochi conflict. The new border was de jure recognized by the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (May 1920) and the Allies (January 1921).
- R. H. Ullman, Britain and the Russian Civil War (Princeton, 1968), pp. 219–20
- Georgian-Abkhaz relations in 1918-1921, article by A. Menteshashvili
- (In Russian)
- (In Russian)
- (In Russian)
- Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911, Black Sea District
Sochi conflict in literature
- Alexander Serafimovich "The Iron Flood" (1924)
- Alexandre Bondar, Victoria Rozhkova "Three Days in Tuapse" (2009)
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