Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Traktat brzeski 1918.jpg
The first two pages of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, in (left to right) German, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Ottoman Turkish and Russian
March 3, 1918
Brest-Litovsk, Russia
Signatories Flag of the German Empire.svg German Empire
Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918).svg Austria-Hungary
Flag of the Ottoman Empire.svg Ottoman Empire
Flag of Bulgaria.png Bulgaria

Flag of Russian SFSR (1918-1937).svg Russian SFSR

Languages German, Bulgarian, Turkish, Hungarian, Russian

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, at Brest-Litovsk between the RSFSR and the Central Powers, marking Russia's exit from World War I.


Signing of the treaty, December 15, 1917

Borders drawn up in Brest-Litovsk

The treaty, signed between Bolshevik Russia on the one side and the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Ottoman Empire (collectively the Central Powers) on the other, marked Russia's final withdrawal from World War I as an enemy of her co-signatories, fulfilling, on unexpectedly humiliating terms, a major goal of the Bolshevik revolution of November 7, 1917.

In all, the treaty took away territory that included a quarter of the Russian Empire's population, a quarter of its industry and nine-tenths of its coal mines.

Transfer of territory to Germany

Russia's new Bolshevik (Communist) government renounced all claims on Finland (which it had already acknowledged), the future Baltic states (Lithuania, Courland and Semigallia), Belarus, and Ukraine, and the territory of Congress Poland (which was not mentioned in the treaty). Most of these territories were in effect ceded to the German Empire, which intended to have them become economically dependent on and politically closely tied to the empire under various German kings and dukes.

Regarding the ceded territories, the treaty stated that "Germany and Austria-Hungary intend to determine the future fate of these territories in agreement with their populations". In fact Germany appointed aristocrats to the new thrones, and Lithuania.

Occupation of the ceded territories by Germany required large amounts of manpower and trucks, and yielded little in the way of foodstuffs or other war material. The Germans transferred hundreds of thousands of veteran troops to the Western Front as rapidly as they could, where they began a series of spring offensives that badly shocked the Allies.

Transfer of territory to the Ottoman Empire

At the insistence of the Ottoman leader Talat Pasha, all lands Russia had captured from the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), specifically Ardahan, Kars, and Batumi, were to be returned. This territory was under the effective control of the newly established Democratic Republic of Georgia and the Democratic Republic of Armenia until 1940. After the Russians conquered these republics, the territory under Armenian control, by and large, went to Turkey; whereas the territory under Georgian control mostly reverted to Russia after Georgia's fall.

Paragraph 3 of Article IV of the treaty states that:

"The districts of Erdehan, Kars, and Batum will likewise and without delay be cleared of the Russian troops. Russia will not interfere in the reorganization of the national and international relations of these districts, but leave it to the population of these districts, to carry out this reorganization in agreement with the neighboring States, especially with Turkey."

Protection of Armenians' right to self-determination

Russia supported the right of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and Russia to determine their destiny, by ensuring the conditions necessary for a referendum:

  1. The retreat (within 6–8 weeks) of Russian armed forces to the borders of the Democratic Republic of Armenia, and the formation in the ADR of a military power responsible for security (including disarming and dispersing the Armenian militia). The Russians were to be responsible for order (protecting life and property) in Ardahan, Kars, and Batumi until the arrival of the Ottomans.
  2. The return by the Ottoman Empire of Armenian emigrants who had taken refuge in nearby areas (Ardahan, Kars, and Batumi).
  3. The return of Ottoman Armenians who had been exiled by the Ottoman Government since the beginning of the war.
  4. The establishment of a temporary National Armenian Government formed by deputies elected in accordance with democratic principles (the Armenian National Council became the Armenian Congress of Eastern Armenians, which established the Democratic Republic of Armenia). The conditions of this government would be put forward during peace talks with the Ottoman Empire.
  5. The Commissar for Caucasian Affairs would assist the Armenians in the realization of these goals.
  6. A joint commission would be formed so Armenian lands could be evacuated of foreign troops.

Russian-German financial agreement of August 1918

In the wake of Russian repudiation of Tsarist bonds, nationalization of foreign-owned property and confiscation of foreign assets, the Russians and Germans signed an additional agreement on August 27, 1918. Russia agreed to pay six billion marks in compensation to German interests for their losses.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.