Today in Caucasian history: the Battle of Sarikamish ends (1915)

The Battle of Sarikamish was one of the more overwhelming Russian victories of World War I. It was so overwhelming, in fact, that it put the Russians on the offensive in the Caucasus for good–or, well, until Russia quit the war following its 1917 revolution. And so its long term military impact has to do with blunting an early Ottoman offensive through the Caucasus that, had it been successful, might have turned the war in a much different direction. Whatever military gains the Russians made as a result of the battle were short-term, as the Ottomans were able to regain everything they’d lost. Outside of the military realm, the battle’s biggest impact was felt by the Armenian people. The Armenian Genocide was a long time coming and had multiple causes, but Sarikamish was one of its most immediate. And that has to do with one powerful man’s ego, and his desperate need to dodge the blame for his multiple, catastrophic failures on the battlefield.

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