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Summary: Russia’s Disaster in the Far East: The Russian-Japanese War 1904/1905

Klaus-Jürgen Bremm

The Russian-Japanese War of 1904/05 marked the first confrontation at sea and on land of two strongly armed forces that were equipped with the most advanced military technology. With the exception of air warfare, the battles in Manchuria and the adjacent littoral areas bore every sign of a modern war.

The fights over the Manchurian railroad junction of Mukden marked the acme of the military operations, during which 300,000 men faced each other in a battle across a front line of roughly 100 kilometers, which lasted for several weeks and went down in history as the biggest battle ever fought until then. Japan had sought the war against Russia, as the Tzarist Empire had massively strengthened its military presence and extended its sphere of influence in the wake of the so-called ”Boxer Rebellion", while Russia was not altogether unhappy about the war either, as it was a means of distracting from interior problems. What Russia had failed to realize, however, was that, within a decade, the backward Japanese army had undergone a drastic change and established a capacity equaling that of the European armies. Due to their sea superiority, the Japanese forces were able to land their troops at Inchon and Pyongyang in Korea and move north from there. Doing so, they succeeded in interrupting the railroad line between Mukden and Port Arthur. In the Battle of Mukden, which caused heavy losses on both sides, the Russian troops were defeated and the effects were worsened still by the devastating Sea Battle of Tsushima.

Both sides were weakened to the extent that they accepted the conditions of America’s peace mediation. Russia had to acknowledge Japan’s supremacy over Korea, withdraw from Manchuria, cede its leasing rights in Port Arthur to Japan and give up the southern part of Sakhalin.European military leaders were so impressed by the fact that Japan had actually defeated a potentially superior enemy by an offensive war, that they internalized the doctrine and developed a regular cult of offensives during WWI.



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Eigentümer und Herausgeber: Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung | Roßauer Lände 1, 1090 Wien
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