Russia History Romanov War Russo-Japanese War (1904–05)

Russo-Japanese War (1904–05)

In 1904, Russia and Japan came to blows in the Far East over their failure to agree on spheres of influence in Korea and China. Japan was much better prepared for war, and the Russian army and navy suffered several heavy defeats.

The main event of the war was the siege of the Russian naval base of Port Arthur. The Japanese army invaded Korea and crossed into Manchuria, pushing the Russian forces back towards Port Arthur. After the defeat of the Russian navy at the Battle of Tsushima, the commander of the garrison believed that further resistance was pointless and surrendered.

On 14 May 1905, the Baltic Fleet encountered the Japanese navy in the Strait of Tsushima between Japan and Korea. The Russian squadron was commanded by Admiral Rozhdestvensky and consisted of 30 warships with 228 guns. The Japanese fleet was commanded by Admiral Togo and consisted of 121 warships with 910 guns. Besides numerical superiority, the Japanese navy also had more powerful guns, thicker armour and faster ships.

The loss of the Baltic Fleet at the Battle of Tsushima became a byword for a military debacle and effectively meant defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. As popular discontent turned into revolution at home, Nicholas II instructed Sergei Witte to commence peace negotiations with the Japanese.

In August 1905, Russia and Japan signed the Treaty of Portsmouth in the United States. Under the peace terms, Japan was awarded South Sakhalin, several islands and the lease on Port Arthur and surrounding waters.

When the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1925, the Communists recognised the Treaty of Portsmouth, while refusing to bear political responsibility. After the Japanese capitulation in the Second World War, South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands were returned to Russia.

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