10. To Kiev
Reorganization of our high command to take charge of both Armies the UNR and UHA, and operational centralization and direction under battle conditions required much of the time and efforts of the Commander in Chief and his Staff. There was now doubt, however, among the soldiers, that by the common effort of both Armies, which were nearly 150,000 strong, we would finally conquer the Bolsheviks. The enthusiasm, however, did not extend beyond a few weeks. It did not occur to anyone, for example, to think of what would happen in the fall, but the Command and the Government did think about it.
Reasons of policy probably demanded centering of all our efforts on Kiev, but strategy looked for contact with the world through the port of Odessa. Politics won, and the bulk of our operations were directed toward Kiev, with safety measures undertaken both to the north and south. The direct attack on Kiev was led by the 3rd UHA Corps and the Zaporozhian Corps as the General A. Kraus Group. On August 30, Kiev was in our hands. Several days later we learned that our forces had again withdrawn from Kiev, and this was a terrible blow to the morale of our soldiers.
We knew from the communiques of the General Staff that our strategic position was deteriorating in connection with the movements of the "White" Russian army of General Denikin who did not conceal his aggressive plans toward Ukraine and other nations that had proclaimed their separation from Russia. Denikin knew, of course, that his success over the Bolsheviks was not so much due to the aid of the Western Allies, as to the Ukrainian Army which had dispersed the Reds. Renewed efforts of our Government and Commander to reach an understanding with Denikin by sending two delegations to him were unsuccessful: Denikin proclaimed that his aim was to restore "Russia, one and indivisible" and in the areas of Ukraine which came under his occupation all manifestations of Ukrainian political activities were summarily dealt with. It should be noted that he displayed the same hostility toward other non-Russian people who proclaimed their independence after the fall of tsarist Russia: the Don, Kuban, Georgia, and others. He ordered the execution of noted patriots of these countries, for example, he ordered the hanging of the Kuban patriot V. Kalabukhov. Denikin refused to talk to the Ukrainian delegates and even threatened them with arrest. Renewed appeals of our Government to the Allies were also futile, both to Allied representatives attached to our Command, as well as through our diplomatic representatives in Paris and London. One word from Clemenceau or from Lloyd George could have put an end to Denikin's military adventure, and could also have decided the fate of the Bolsheviks by directing all forces opposed to them in one unified action. But they were still dreaming of restoring great Russia with her profitable and insatiable market. It is hard to understand the working of the mind of Denikin and of the "great" statesmen of that time; they would not look at history, tactics or experience. We can well seek the causes of the decline of England and France in the events of that time.
When the troops of the General Kraus Group were marching into Kiev in parade order on August 31, General Bredov's group of Denikin's "White" Russians attacked our vanguard patrols guarding the bridges across the Dnipro, and broke into Kiev. General Kraus obeyed prior orders of our Staff and ordered his troops to withdraw to the western part of Kiev and waited for a political solution to the problem of our relations with Denikin. Gen. Bredov, however, took advantage of the situation and pressed the attack against our troops. The General Staff of the Commander ordered a halt to operations both against the Red and White Russians, and to permit the Reds marching from the south to engage the Whites – a very wise strategic move.