UKRAINIANS IN THE SYSTEM OF MANNING THE ARMED FORCES OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE BEFORE THE FIRST WORLD WAR: MILITARY AND POLITICAL ASPECT
Keywords:military obligation, manning of military forces, «Russian Imperial Nation», Naddniprianschina (Dnieper Ukraine)
The author is focused on how changes in the military and political sphere of the late Russian empire have affected the number, character and significance of the military service of Ukrainians in the Imperial Army.
The manning of the Armed Forces of the Russian Empire from the reform of 1874 to the First World War was balancing between the two poles: the creation of conditions for rapid deployment of the army and the consideration of the Empires state-building priorities. Eventually, the second pole turned out to be dominant and became the main for the manning of troops. The Empire Army turned into an instrument and at the same time a mirror of domestic policy. The place of a nation in the structure of the Armed Forces was a projection of its status in the Empire and showed probable prospects for its future.
In the last decades of the XIX century the practice of restrictions and exclusion from the military service was finally established to those nations who the Empire wanted to colonize or keep under the rule. Keeping under the rule was guaranteed by placing on the territories of their residence not the multinational contingent of troops (Grand Duchy of Finland, former Kingdom of Poland, Caucasus, the nations of Siberia, etc.). These troops, as everywhere in the Empire, were 75 percent consisted of so-called «Russian Nation». The «Russian Nation» as an intellectual and ideological construction included Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians. The idea of the «three-part Russian Nation» centrality as the «Russian Imperial Nation» became predominant for the rule of Alexander III and Nicholas II. This meant that Ukrainians completely became hostages of the Empire in the military and political sense. At the beginning of XX century Ukraine was intensively used as a conscription pool district. In 1907, 22,5% of new recruits were Ukrainians.
It should be noted that the qualification of Ukrainians as part of the «Russian Nation» and military practices with them have provided potential opportunities for the deployment of processes that were in total opposition to the strategic ideas of the Russian Empire. Significant part of Ukrainians in military units, reduced terms of military service, and involvement compatriots in teaching of new recruits gave a good chance to keep local identity among soldiers. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian Imperial army still had poor chances to become a «school of the nation» according to the German model, first of all because of the undeveloped system of school education – the basis for the education of the citizens. In the army soldiers were memorizing titles, drill and combat commands, responsibilities in Russian, seared the oath of loyalty to the Emperor. This was not enough for radical changes in their identity. With the change of circumstances in 1917, many Ukrainian soldiers of the Imperial Army had already wanted to create separate Ukrainian military units and quickly joined the Ukrainian revolutionary movement, becoming actors of the collapse of the Russian Empire.