14 April 2014
Second Crimean War 1918 to 1919
In the decade after the Baltic Event the Russian Empire attempted to rebuild and recover what lost territory it could. Tsar Cyril finally turned his attention on Ukraine in 1918. The Russian Navy had never recovered from the losses of the Russo-Japanese War and the Baltic Event, however a bulk of the surviving ships were in the Black Sea Fleet. That fleet was stationed in Sevastopol, an Imperial enclave in Ukraine. With the diminished strength of the Ukrainian military after the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1912-1914 and continued tension between those two countries Russia struck.
On 12 June 1918 three-hundred thousand Russian troops invaded Ukraine with the stated purpose of annexing Crimea to the Russian Empire. The Black Sea Fleet departed to bombard Odessa, attacking that city on 18 June. The tiny Ukrainian Navy was destroyed.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire, wary of Russian expansion back into Europe, intervened on 7 August 1918 with a declaration of war on Russia. The Habsburg contribution to the war was only a naval battle group built around the SMS Viribus Unitis. That squadron under Rear Admiral Miklós Horthy hunted down and wiped out the Black Sea Fleet on 20 October 1918 at the Battle of Karkinit Bay. Austria-Hungary kept its involvement in the war limited to keeping the Russians from staging further naval attacks on Ukraine, only a volunteer army unit took place in land operations.
By the arrival of winter Russian troops occupied most of Crimea. The Ukrainian military was continuing to mobilize and set up a series of trenches across the north end of the peninsula.
By spring 1919 full-scale hostilities resumed. The initial Russian assaults on the Ukrainian trenches failed with the loss of many Russian soldiers. On 14 May 1919 Russia ignored the Crimean front and launched a three-pronged assault across their common border with Ukraine. The Ukrainian military was overwhelmed and the Russians broke through. On 20 May the Russians had the Crimean trenches surrounded. That, along with Polish troops massing on Ukraine's other border led to their surrender on 24 May.
Russia annexed Crimea, but had suffered some heavy casualties against the machine guns Austria provided to the Ukrainians. Further Russian plans to expand into Ukraine were abandoned as a result. Tsar Cyril decided further recoveries of territory should be made in central Asia where the cost and interference of other European powers would be less.
I've decided to expand a few existing timelines this spring/summer. One of them will be the Baltic Event timeline where the Tunguska blast occurred instead in the Baltic Sea and crippled the Russian Empire.
Tsar Cyril is Cyril Vladimirovich, the closest to the throne after the deaths of the Imperial family during the event.
I created the logo for this post using the Russian and Ukrainian flags, the Ukrainian coat of arms, and an image of flame.