Armeno-Georgian War of 1918

and Armeno-Georgian Territorial Issue in the 20th Century



By  Andrew Andersen and Georg Egge





Restoration of Armenian and Georgian Statehood



On October 9, 1918, an independent Transcaucasian Federal Democratic Republic was proclaimed in Tiflis (Tbilisi) facing the collapse of Russian Empire, revolutionary anarchy and devastating Turkish invasion. The new state that virtually embraced all South Caucasian possessions of the former Russian Empire (five provinces and one territory to the south of Main Caucasus range), failed to survive much longer than a month. Insurmountable contradictions between the nationalist parties dominant in the government and parliament of Transcaucasian Federation that claimed to represent incompatible interests of various ethnic groups of the region, led to total collapse, and at the end of May 1918, the independence of the three new republics: Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani, was proclaimed almost simultaneously (at intervals of two days) in the same city of Tiflis.


The fragmentation of federations into the independent states is usually followed by the problems of territorial demarcation. In this case, however, the situation evolved differently. The troops of Ottoman Turkey, whose leadership was planning to take over the entire Caucasus, having overcome the weak resistance of Georgian and Armenian units of the former Russian army, occupied a significant part of the region and forced Armenia and Georgia to sign the Treaty of Batum (June 4, 1918). Under the terms of that “peace treaty”, as well as several subsequent agreements imposed by Turkey, the considerable part of the South Caucasus was assigned to Turkey while the two newly formed republics were curtailed to such an extent that they did not even share a common border. The Armenian Republic was cut down to a tiny enclave around the cities of Yerevan and Vagarshapat (Echmiadzin) that included the county of New-Bayazet as well as the eastern parts of Alexandropol,Yerevan, Echmiadzin and Sharur-Daralaghez counties of the province of Yerevan[1], whereas Georgia that had entered into a separate agreement with Germany, managed to keep the province of Kutais and most of the province of Tiflis, excluding. The Ottoman-annexed counties of Akhalrtsikhe and Akhalkalaki[2].  Turkey was also given carte blanche to act in Azerbaijan. As for the county of Alexandropol lying between the truncated republics of Armenia and Georgia, it was partially annexed by the Ottoman Empire in accordance with the Treaty of Batum. The remaining part of that county was also occupied by the Turkish troops that were gradually penetrating into Azerbaijan, the country that was just at the beginning of the process of its territorial formation. (See Map 2).






Click on the map for better resolution




Shortly after the Treaty of Batum was signed, the ottoman command insisted on a "temporary transfer under Ottoman administration" of an additional stripe of land in the Lori sector of the county of Borchalo (Tiflis province). That part of Lori sector was lying close to the strategic highway through which the Turkish troops were marching in a continuous stream into Azerbaijan, where the armed struggle between Ottoman-protected Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and the Bolsheviks that had seized power in parts of the province of Baku was escalating. A segment of the said highway between Karaklis and Delijan was lying in such a close proximity to the border of Georgian-controlled province of Tiflis, that according to the Turkish commanders it was extremely important to slightly move the border northwards in order to to secure the highway from possible of some Armenian guerrillas that desided to fight the Turks to the end. That “border adjustment”, however, was not considered permanent, and the Turkish occupation of a small part of Lori sector was initially intended to be of temporary character


The following excerpt is from a Georgian government document, published one year after the events described:


“Meanwhile, on behalf of Turkey, got the Georgian government a requirement to allow a temporary derogation from the provisions of Article II of the Treaty of June 4, 1918, and permit Turkish troops occupy temporarily a part of Borchalo county up to the river Kamenka and the railway segment south of the bridge between the railway stations of Kober and Kalageran (117th mile). This measure was necessary for the Turkish command in view of the movement of their troops up the Karaklis-Delizhan-Kazakh road, in order to ensure that maneuver to be performed unhindered and safe. The demands of Turkish commanders was supported by the representative of the German military mission in Tiflis, and the government of Georgia had no other choice but to satisfy the above demands and sacrifice their claims for the whole province of Tiflis and the railway line to the middle of the tunnel behind the Shagali station. It had to agree to a temporal de-facto possession by Turkey of the above territory.


As a result of a number of military actions that have arisen in connection with that demand as well as negotiations with the Turkish command, the Turkish troops were given the right to take over the territory up until the line along the right bank of Kamenka - namely: the villages of Novo-Pokrovka, Jalal-Oglu, Nikolaevka Gergery, Vartanlur, Kurtan, Dar-Kendo - and further until the line starting from the bridge on the 117th  mile of the Aleksandropol  segment of the former Transcaucasian railway lying at the midway between the stations and Kober and Kalageran, and ending at the villages of Marts and Lorut. The area north of this line was thus secured from the Turkish occupation and in order to protect it from possible Turkish invasion, it was occupied by Georgian military units being located the villages of Vorontsovka, Alexandrovka, Aidarbek, Mgart, the railway station of Kober and the villages and Korinj and Tsater[3].


By "a number of military action" the author of the above quote most definitely means the series of clashes that occurred in June 1918  between Georgian forces supported by a few German units and Turkish troops that attempted in breach of the Treaty of Batum, to continue their offensive from Karaklis in the direction of Tiflis. As a result of these clashes Turks were stopped at the river Kamenka and near the Red Bridge. The clashes led to a dramatic, albeit short-lived conflict between the already weakening Central power allies: the German and Ottoman empires.


The demarcation line mentioned in the above-quoted document, became de-facto border of Georgia for the period between the signing of the treaty of Batumi and surrender the Ottoman Empire at the end of 1918. Thus, as we already mentioned above, there was no common border between Armenia in Georgia up until the late autumn of 1918, as the stripe of territory lying to the south of the demarcation line, was controlled by the Turks.





German and Georgian troops on their way to Kamenka




Figure 1: Dislocation of Turkish, Georgian and German troops along the demarcation line (June-September, 1918.)



  • Double red-orange line along the river Kamenka is the demarcation line established at the insistence of Turkey in June 1918.
  • The green line is the border of the province of Tiflis that was supposed to become the national border of Georgia as per the Treaty of Batum.
  • The thin red line denotes modern national border between Armenia and Georgia that  corresponds to the border between the “Soviet republics” of the USSR up until its disintegration in 1991.
  • Light green color marks the territory of de-facto Turkish control, as of the summer of 1918; the territory under control of Georgian government during the same period of time, is marked with light yellow color.
  • The strategically important Kars-Aqstapha road which connected Turkey with Azerbaijan, is marked with broad green stripe.
  • Red flags with the crescent denote Turkish positions; dark red flags with black and white cantons denote Georgian positions; German positions are denoted with red, white and black flags with black “iron crosses”.













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[2] Kadishev, A.B., Interventsia i grazhdanskaja vojna v Zakavkazji (Moscow, 1960), p. 95

[3] Из истории армяно-грузинских взаимоотноошений. 1918 гд: пограничный конфликт; переговоры; война; соглашение.  (Тифлис, 1919), стр.12-13