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The Caucasus During the World Wars: Caught Between Independence and Foreign Interventions

The Caucasus During the World Wars: Caught Between Independence and Foreign Interventions

Christoph Baumer, 15 November 2023 14.00 GMT
At the Royal Astronomical Society and online

When the Russian-Tsarist army collapsed during World War I, the larger peoples of the South Caucasus regained their long-lost independence, forcing their own ethnic minorities to join them which led the ground for the present conflicts in Nagorno Karabakh, Ossetia and Abkhazia. In the North Caucasus, the extremely fractured geography and ethnic diversity prevented the formation of national state structures. Having failed to win the support of the victorious allies at the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference, the three south Caucasian republics soon succumbed to the Tsars’ successors, Soviet Russia, and fell out of sight of the Western powers.


The Caucasus again came into the focus of history in 1942 with the failed attempt of the German Wehrmacht to seize its oilfields whereupon Stalin deported major parts of the North Caucasian population to Siberia and Kazakhstan. When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, a new opportunity opened up for the Caucasian peoples to take their fate into their own hands. The talk will end with an assessment of the present political situation and the unresolved issues.

Dr Christoph Baumer is an explorer and historian of Central Asia, Tibet and the Caucasus. He is President of the Society for the Exploration of EurAsia, Senior Research Fellow of the Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, the Royal Asiatic Society, the Royal Geographic Society and the Explorers Club. In 2015, he received the RSAA’s Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal.

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