What is the context?

Western intervention during the Russian Civil War

Russian Civil War White Propaganda

Almost immediately after the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, civil war broke out. The Russian Civil War lasted from February 1918 until November 1920 and was fought between the Bolshevik Red Army and the White Army, which was a loose alliance of anti-Bolshevik forces. Many foreign armies fought on the side of the White Army.

By 1920, there were around 250,000 foreign troops on Russian soil, including significant numbers of British and Commonwealth forces, Czech legions, French, Greek, Japanese, Polish and US troops and smaller units of Estonian, Serbian, Romanian, Italian and Chinese forces. There is no doubt that the Western powers were concerned about the potential spread of Communism. Indeed, Churchill had declared that Bolshevism must be “strangled in its cradle.” This intensified Russian mistrust of the motives of the West.

However, there were practical concerns as well. From the moment that Russia had begun peace negotiations with the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk, Britain, France and the USA became increasingly concerned about the large amounts of military equipment and supplies that had been provided to their former ally, Imperial Russia, which might now fall into the hands of either the Bolsheviks or the Central Powers, particularly Germany.

With the outbreak of the Russian Civil War the Western powers sent in troops to secure the equipment and supplies being held in Russian ports, especially Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. The British navy was also sent into the Baltic to support anti-Bolshevik activity, particularly in Estonia and Latvia.