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From The National Review. a country with hardly any metalled RUSSIA'S STRENGTH.
roads and few railways, the collection “Is there any ground for this un- into one district of contingents SO wholesome and abject terror that Rus- widely scattered was so slow a process sia appears to inspire in other powers ?” as to be impracticable; wars This question, put to me in these words ended before all the forces that should by a friend who is deeply interested in have been employed had been brought matters of European policy, leads so on to the scene of action. In 1860, directly to the root of the present situa- Moltke, discussing the chance of Rustion that it may be worth while at sian intervention in a war in Germany, tempting an answer for the benefit of wrote: “Moscow, which we may regard the readers of the National Review. as the centre of gravity of Russia, is It has for some time been the fashion as far from Berlin as Madrid or Naples. when such questions are asked, to seek The Russian army is spread over an the answer in military and naval sta- area of a million square miles. It tistics. Those who consult tables giv- needs a long time to assemble, and has ing the grand total of persons upon
to cover from the Volga to the Vistula, whose military service in
a distance of fourteen hundred miles, pacity the Russian government con
without a railway.
The Russian army siders that in the last resort it can can reach our frontier only after we count, may feel awed by the four or six have been victorious, or have already millions of armed men who will in this suffered defeat." During the reign of way be paraded before the imagina- Alexander III., the Russian governtion. But totals of this kind are of ment became aware that the old. little practical value. The real military fashioned distribution of its troops renforce of a nation is represented by the dered it comparatively impotent either armies that it can put into the field for for attack or defence at any given specific purposes of attack or defence. point. The remedy was found by In recent years, since the death of choosing the region wl:ere it would be Alexander II., Russia has considerably useful to be strong, and by moving into strengthened her military power by that region so much of the army as preparing it for definite campaigns. would make possible its complete conBefore the accession of Alexander Ill., centration there in case of need. The Russia's army was spread over the question which was the proper disgreater part of her European territory. trict for this purpose must evidently There was, and still is, a large force depend upon the object for which it in the provinces south of the Caucasus, was thought most likely the army and a smaller force dispersed over the would be employed, and when we know Fast Asiatic territories under Russian the answer given we shall hardly be rule. Of late the garrisons in the ex- wrong in making inferences as to the treme East have been strengthened, but policy of Russia.
The army a quite recent estimate does not put moved to the Western frontier. the Russian force in Asia, apart from To understand its present distributhe army of the Caucasus, higher than tion it is necessary only to remember seventy-five thousand men. The great one or two leading features of its orchange has been in Europe.
ganization. Four battalions form a From Odessa to St. Petersburg is regiment, and four regiments an inabout a thousand miles, and from War fantry division, to which is attached saw to Kazan about twelve hundred. an artillery brigade of six batteries, So long as the permanent quarters of with forty-eight guns. A cavalry dithe troops were spread over a parallel. vision is comprised of twenty-four ogram of these dimensions,
squadrons. The field army is made up though the western districts contained of infantry divisions and cavalry diviLore than their share, the army was sions, and will be augmented in case doomed to perpetual unreadiness. In of war, not only by bringing the in
fantry divisions up to war strength, On the south of the great marshlands which is about double the peace effec- that stretch eastward from Brest tive, but also by expanding the rifle Litewsk, a third army of one hundred brigades and reserve brigades, which and fifty-four thousand men, when in peace are composed of the cadres of completed to war strength (five cavalry four riile battalions or eight infantry and eight infantry divisions), is dotted battalions. The cavalry division num- by divisions along the railway from bers about three thousand nine hun- Charkow and Pultawa through Kief to dred sabres; the infantry division on Luzk, near the Galician border. A a war footing about sixteen thousand fourth army has its headquarters at bayonets; the reserve brigade half, and Odessa, its four infantry divisions, erthe rifle brigade a quarter of that cept that at Sebastopol, being stationed strength. Beyond these components near the Roumanian frontier, or the of the field army, there are, of course, railways leading towards Bessarabia. fortress garrisons of various arms and Its war force would be about seventy the troops of the several auxiliary ser- thousand men. vices. These are for the most part Be ad these four armies are the quartered in the great fortresses of the great reserves at St. Petersburg and Western frontier. By the present dis- Moscow. At St. Petersburg, in direct tribution the whole European army of railway communication with Wilna Russia is contained in six districts, and Warsaw, are six infantry and two those of Wilna, Warsaw, Kief, and cavalry divisions, with a war strength Odessa, which together form the West- of one hundred and eleven thousand, ern frontier belt, and those of St. and at Moscow, with a direct railway to Petersburg and Moscow, from which Warsaw, and less direct railways to railways run to the frontier,
Kief and Odessa, are one cavalry and The principal military centre is Po- seven infantry divisions, making one land, the great tongue of land that pro- hundred and twenty-one thousand. trudes towards Germany between Prus- These various bodies are the whole field sia and Austrian Silesia. Here there are army of Russia in Europe, nine hunno less than eleven infantry divisions, dred and seventeen thousand men. and eight and a half cavalry divisions, But, as has been noted, the outbreak of which on a war footing would make war will see them strengthened by rifle two hundred and seventeen thousand and reserve brigades, which might, men. The infantry is arranged in a after a time, add two or even three hunhorseshoe line facing the German and dred thousand to the total force. In Austrian borders.1 Seven of the cav- case the government required to use alry divisions are on the outside of the
all or any of these armies, it would be horseshoe, five on the north side facing necessary first to call out the reserve Prussia and two on the south towards
men needed to fill up the cadres to the Galicia.
war complement, and to transport them In the district of Wilna there are from their homes to the present quareight infantry and two cavalry divi- ters of their regiments. This process sions, at war strength one hundred and would hardly be accomplished in less forty-two thousand men. The corner than a month. It would be followed by points of the district are at Riga, the concentration in its district of the Witebsk, Bobruisk, and Grodno, so that army to be employed, which in Poland its area is about two hundred and fifty might be effected in ten marches; in miles square, but the divisions are sta- the district of Wilna, where the railtioned at places in direct railway com- ways are convenient, in about the same munication with Wilna and Kovno, the time; but in the regions of Kief and great frontier fortress on the Njemen. Odessa would probably involve further
delay. The Moscow and St. Petersburg 1 The headquarters of divisions are at Bielos. tok, Lomsha, Ostrolenka, Pultusk, Warsaw (2), contingents might by this time be apRadom, Ljublin (2), Brest Litewsk, and Kobrin. proaching the frontier districts, and the Her army
expansion of the reserve cadres might itary strength of Russia consists in her be beginning.
being ready for a war on her western The forces that would thus be put in frontier. In any other direction she motion are no doubt large. But it must is hardly prepared for a great effort, be observed that the distribution here but in no other direction is she condescribed admits of the full effort be- fronted by any military power that ing made only in one eventuality, that could be dangerous to her. of a war in which Russia is opposed at of the Caucasus is no doubt equal to the same time by Germany, Austria- any emergencies likely to arise in that Hungary, and Roumania, or at least by region, but is not in any reasonable Germany and Austria-Hungary. The time available elsewhere. armies of Kief and Odessa are too far The Russian navy is hardly in itself away to be available within any rea- strong enough to cause much appresonable time against Germany, and hension to any of the great powers. It those of Wilna and St. Petersburg may, perhaps, be described as genercould not without very great difficulty ally about equal to that of Germany or and delay be removed to the Galician of Italy, with the qualification that the or Roumanian frontiers. The arrange- special effort of the present time to inment is evidently based upon the as- crease the number of modern battlesumption of a common policy uniting ships tends to make it in that imporGermany and Austria-Hungary. For tant element of force superior to either the contingency of a war in which these of them. But as it is usually divided two powers were arrayed against Rus- between the Black Sea and the Baltic, sia, the Russian force can hardly be and as all its possible enemies have thought extravagant, in view of Bis- their bases at points on the route joinmarck's famous declaration that Ger- ing those two seas, it must be regarded many could place a million men on each as subject to some embarrassment due of her frontiers, and have a third mil- to this strategical situation. lion in reserve, and of the probability The very great iniluence exerted by that the greater part of the Austro- Russia is due, not to her own forces, Hungarian army would be employed which are by no means disproportionagainst the Russians. Further, it may ate to the tasks of defence incumbent reasonably be held that the disposition upon them, but to her alliance with of four armies at points of assembly France. The Russian and French aralong a frontier eight hundred miles mies together are more numerous and long (in a straight line from Odessa to probably as efficient as the German and Memel) is defensive rather than offen- Austro-Hungarian armies combined. sive.
The essence of attack consists The addition of the Italian army gave in concentrating the available force a slight preponderance of force to the against a single enemy; a course which Triple Alliance; but the exhaustion of has been shown to be in this case Italy bas rendered this advantage hardly practicable. No doubt the dis- doubtful, while the combined navies tribution of forces points to a prepon- of France and Russia
more derance in the quarter opposite the than a match for the navies of the German frontier, which is watched by central powers. A war between the two a very large body of cavalry, and upon groups would be an exhausting, ruinwhich the armies of Wilna and War- ous effort to both sides; the balance of saw could be supported both by that of forces promises no decided success to Moscow and that of St. Petersburg. either party, and therefore the great This preponderance, however, is no interest of most of them is to avoid it. more than a well-deserved compliment The temper of the French is, however, to the superiority of the German army still thought to be correctly described in numbers, organization, and readi- by the Bismarckian words, that if there ness, to that of the dual monarchy. were war between Germany and Rus
At the present moment, then, the mil- sia, "the chassepots would go off of
themselves.” In other words, French large army in the region eastward of feeling places French policy at the the Oder, or, indeed, eastward of the disposal of Russia, although the Rus- Weser, living upon the country it sian government will hardly begin a passes through, and the traditional war for any merely French object. weakness in point of exactitude of the This situation makes the Russian em- Russian administrative officials, the peror the arbiter of peace or war, and westward march from Warsaw and for this reason so much deference is Wilna presents to the imagination paid to him.
dreadful possibilities of privation, disThe action of Russia in preparing her ease and starvation. But this by the army for campaigns against possible way. The first effect of the changed European enemies seems to have been distribution of the Russian army was the outcome of a natural and reason- to compel the German government to able policy. In general terms this a large increase of its available force, policy may be described as the effort to produced by extending the age of rebring the power or influence of Russia serve liability so as to make liable in to bear upon the centre of gravity of case of war several annual classes that the political world (or at least of the old had before been exempt. At the same world) which lies in Europe, rather time German policy was brought up than to disseminate that power by em- very sharply. Bismarck's last great ploying it in fragments at points far parliamentary speech, that of Febaway from the centre of gravity. The ruary, 1888, was the announcement effect has been to diminish Russia's mil- that in order to avoid a war with Rusitary activity in Asia without diminish- sia and France at once, from which ing her political influence there.
Germany could have nothing to gain, The movement of troops was carried and everything to lose, the German out in the main in 1887. No thorough government must make every sacrifice local preparations had been made, and short of that of honor to propitiate Ruslarge masses were quartered in dis- sia. Austria was to be defended it tricts where there were neither houses attacked, but not to be supported in her nor huts.
Disease ravaged among the traditional Eastern policy, or at least troops, and a long time passed before not in any attempt either to extend her camps had been replaced by barracks own influence or to stem the extension or other permanent quarters. This of Russian influence in the regions carelessness of life and want of fore- now
or formerly under Turkish dothought is hardly a good omen for the minion. The normal and natural tenfuture operations of these armies. The dencies of Russian and of Austrian principal difficulty attaching to the policy in regard to the Eastern quesmovements of very large forces con- tion have never been better set forth sists in securing that all the men shall than in Moltke's introduction to his be properly fed and shall have such history of the war of 1828-9. "The task rest and shelter as may suffice for which of necessity Austria will sooner health. During the campaign in or later have to perform” is “to prevent France these difficulties were overcome the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, by the exertions of a splendidly pre- or to regulate the course of that, perpared service directed by the perhaps haps, inevitable event.” On the other unique talent of the late General von hand, “Russia is absolutely driven, by Stosch. Stosch was far from sanguine her geographical and commercial posias to the possibility of properly supply- tion, to exercise at Constantinople a ing in the field the greatly increased predominant influence, without which numbers of more recent times. He she can insure neither the internal once said that he neither knew how it prosperity of her southern provinces, could be done nor who could do it. In the development of her maritime enview of the inefficiency of Russian com- terprise, nor the security of her southmunications, the impossibility of a ern border." The balance of force be
tween the combination of which Austria great effect, for an enterprise of which is a member, and that of which Rus- in present conditions the execution is sia is the head, coupled with the dan, impracticable. An attack upon India gers to all parties attending a conflict ought to be preceded by a considerable between the two sides, has necessitated weakening of the general position and a compromise in regard to Turkey, status of the British Empire, and this based upon the status quo, interpreted, must be effected by means of Russia's so far as the minor states, Bulgaria European policy. and Servia are concerned, in the sense In the far East, however, a delicate favorable to Russia, expounded by Bis- situation was created by the Japanese marck in the speech to which reference conquest of Korea, and of the great has been made, and so far as the Otto- naval bases on the Gulf of Pechili. If man Empire is concerned, in the sense the Japanese were allowed to establish that its territorial integrity is to be themselves here, the path of Russian maintained, but that Russia is to exert extension would be barred, and Japan the influence which she desires. Thus in possession could, with naval help the first result of the new Russian pol- from England, prevent Russia from icy, and of the new distribution of her erer developing her aval ambition in army, has been a great success in Eu- the Northern Pacific. Prompt, direct, rope. Austria and her allies
isolated action was not practicable. A cowed by the prospect of a conflict Russian army could not be marched which to avert they have given Russian across Asia. The Japanese forces were influence full scope in Turkey and its too strong for the Russian forces on the former dependencies, the only reserva- spot, and naval help from European tion being apparently that Russia is Russia could not be rendered if England not to conquer or annex territory. The should determine to help the Javanese. collapse of the Ottoman Empire is to be The danger was that England might postponed, and the delay is to be for see her advantage; might mediate bethe benefit of Russia. This being the tween Japan and China, and guaranconstrained attitude of the German and tee to Japan against Russia the posiAustrian governments, the public dis- tions she had conquered. A fairly cussion of the nature of the Turkish do- strong British government would minion, such as it has shown itself in hardly have been deterred by joint Armenia, cannot but be distasteful to declarations from Russia and France them, for it can only lead to the infer- alone, for prompt action would have ence that they are actuated in their given England a great opportunity both conduct by the dread of a conflict with in the far Eastern and in European the Dual Alliance, an inference which waters, and a serious repulse to Russia they cannot wish their subjects to in the far East would have reacted on draw.
her position in other parts of Asia and In Asia, also, the new policy has in Europe. The accession of Germany yielded good results. In Persia Russia's to the combination was, therefore, a influence is already sufficiently strong, great service to Russia, and enabled and in the direction of India no imme- her to recover, without a blow, an imdiate action seems to be contemplated. portant position already lost, to inflict An attack upon India, or even upon upon England a humiliation which in Afghanistan, will hardly be under the far East was palpable, and to retaken until the newly acquired dis- veal to Japan that English governtricts of Central Asia have been fully ments are not to be trusted to assert the Russified, and until becomes practi- evident interests of their own nation. cable to assemble a considerable force That Russia aiming at predominance beyond the Caspian, It would be folly in Asia, and France seeking to make to diminish the force in Europe, which, the Mediterranean a Frencin lak? rationally disposed, produces such a should see their rival in England tho