1918

Main events of 1918 in Europe:

    • By the beginning of 1918, Russia is in a vortex of change in domestic and foreign policy. After the revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in the major cities of the Russian Empire and were forming the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army.
    • On 18 January 1918, an Estonian foreign delegation is formed with a view to informing the world about the situation in Estonia and obtaining foreign support.
    • On 24 February 1918, the Estonian Provisional Government declares the independent and democratic Republic of Estonia.
    • On 25 February 1918, the troops of the German 68th Army Corps occupy Tallinn, which is followed by the occupation of the rest of the country’s territory. Initially, there had been promises to retain Estonian national troops at least in Northern Estonia.
    • Due to the German Army’s successful offensive on the Eastern Front, Soviet Russia is forced to sign the Brest-Litovsk treaty on 3 March 1918. This effectively stops military action on the Eastern Front, after which Germany transfers its available forces to the Western Front to fight the Entente Powers. Russia agrees to surrender the territories of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine or, in other words, one third of the empire’s population, 45% of its heavy industry and 90% of coal mines.
    • On 6 March 1918, British troops seize the port of Murmansk where large quantities of armaments were previously sent for Russia. This is the beginning of the implementation of the unofficial intervention policy in the territory of Russia. At the same time, the British do not want to send larger forces to Northern Russia. However, more military equipment donated by the allies remains at the ports of Arkhangelsk and Vladivostok, where it might fall into the Bolsheviks’ hands. In March 1918, Royal Navy performs regular patrols in the North Sea, the Arctic Ocean, the English Channel, the Mediterranean Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Black Sea and near the Bosphorus.
    • On 21 March 1918, Germany launches a major offensive on the Western front.
      Ants Piip
    • On 9 April 1918, a member of the Estonian foreign delegation, Ants Piip, arrives in London. Piip criticises the unlawful German occupation in Estonia; the UK is focused on defeating the Germans on the Western Front.
    • On 23 April 1918, Ants Piip meets Arthur Balfour, the Foreign Secretary of the UK, which results in UK’s de facto recognition of the Estonian Provisional Government and the Estonian Provincial Assembly on 3 May 1918.
    • On 27 April 1918, the German military leadership bans the activity and further formation of the national troops in Northern Estonia.
    • In May and June 1918, German and White Finnish forces advance towards Murmansk, which results in the Supreme War Council deciding during a meeting on 3 June to enhance the British force already in action in Northern Russia.
    • 18 July 1918: the Allied counter-offensive begins on the Western Front, allowing them to seize the initiative.
    • On 2 August 1918, French and British troops take Arkhangelsk. US forces arrive in September.
    • On 3 August 1918, a 12,000 strong Japanese military force seizes Vladivostok.
    • On 31 August 1918, tension between the UK and Soviet Russia increases. The Bolsheviks attack the British Embassy in Petrograd, killing the naval attaché Captain Francis Cromie among other casualties.
    • On 4 October 1918, Germany asks the Allies for an armistice.
    • During the government session on 18 October 1918, Lord Robert Cecil, Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, recommends that a plan of action pertaining to the Baltic States be formulated.
    • On 11 November 1918, the Compiègne Armistice is signed, which ends World War I. The Estonian Provisional Government resumes operation. The Estonian Provincial Assembly asks Ants Piip to convince the British government to send food and ammunition to Estonia.
    • On 13 November 1918, Soviet Russia declares the Brest-Litovsk treaty invalid. Raising the threat of military invasion of the Baltic States. Chief of the Imperial General Staff Henry Wilson recommends creating the so-called buffer zone along the western border of Soviet Russia.
    • On 14 November 1918, the British government formulates the principles of its military actions towards Soviet Russia: to continue the occupation of ports in Northern Russia; to provide weapons to support the Russian White Army and the Baltic States in their fight against Soviet Russia’s aggression. Jaan Tõnisson asks Ants Piip to convince the British government to send war ships and weapons to Estonia as soon as possible.
    • On 19 November 1918, Ants Piip presents an official appeal to the UK government, requesting it to send land and maritime forces to help at the earliest opportunity, to transport weapons and food to Estonia and to persuade Germany to evacuate its forces from the Baltic States.
      Konstantin Päts
    • On 20 November 1918, the UK decides to aid the Baltic States’ struggle for independence with armaments. A flotilla of British warships is dispatched to Estonia.
    • On 21 November, the Provisional Government takes over the state administration of Estonia from the German government’s authorised representative August Winnig (the treaty signed on 19 November in Riga).
    • On 22 November, German troops rebuff a Red Army attack on Narva.
    • On 26 November 1918, the Red Army seizes Pskov, after which the Northern Corps of the Russian White Army retreats to the territory of Estonia.
    • On 27 November 1918, the Provincial Assembly appoints the Estonian Provisional Government (with Konstantin Päts as Prime Minister).
    • On 28 November 1918, the Red Army attacks Narva, starting the Estonian War of Independence.