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Margarita Kononova

Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Social, Political and Economic Problems in the 20th Century, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences, RIAC expert

Column: Longreads

Russian diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – stationed both at the central office and at foreign diplomatic missions, embassies and consulates – were among the first to mount a political challenge against the Bolsheviks after they had seized power in Petrograd. Unlike their Petrograd-based colleagues, who went on strike alongside other ministerial officials and thus brought the work of the entire government to a screeching halt, Russian diplomats abroad remained at their posts. While they refused to follow the foreign policy of the Bolsheviks, they stood up to protect the national interests of Russia and those of their fellow countrymen abroad. They condemned the separate peace concluded with Germany as a betrayal of the interests of the great nation of Russia, undermining its international status. Russian diplomats relieved thereafter of their duties by People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Leon Trotsky thus found themselves in emigration. During the Civil War, they collaborated actively with the governments of Kolchak, Denikin and Wrangel, rendering them any required diplomatic assistance, and after the end of the Civil War, following the first de facto and subsequently de jure recognition of the Soviet Union by most foreign countries, continued to work under the direction of the Council of Ambassadors in the framework of special organizations representing the interests of Russian emigrants.

Project page: russiancouncil.ru/en/russian-diplomacy-1917

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