There can be no doubt that this so-called counter-revolution – a term which everybody interprets in his own sense – was engineered by the Germans to synchronise with their offensive. The news of what was passing in Petrograd was circulated among the troops at the front by German aeroplanes and by Bolshevik agitators, and the collapse of the Russian Army would never have been so complete but for this. See more
On the other hand, the Russian reverse – serious as it is, more especially from the point of view of the abandonment of heavy artillery, guns and military supplies – has secured for the Government the full support of the Soviet and of the Socialists, who have now given them full powers to put down indiscipline in the army and anarchy at home.
It is always difficult in this country to look far ahead; but in spite of the disastrous news from the front I take a more hopeful view of the situation as a whole than I have for some time past. Though the industrial, economic and financial situations are all serious, there is at last some prospect of orderly Government, even if a little time must elapse before we feel its effects. So long as anarchy reigned supreme one could not expect any real or lasting improvement, but the restoration of order ought to react favourably on all branches of the national life.
On this Tuesday afternoon I really was afraid that the Government would have to capitulate, as they were really at the mercy of the disloyal troops, had the latter had an ounce of courage and been properly led. The Cossacks and a few loyal regiments who came out to protect the Government saved the situation. As it was, Tchernoff, the Socialist Minister of Agriculture, was roughly handled by the disloyal troops and temporarily arrested. See more
While we were at dinner the Cossacks charged the Cronstadt sailors, who had gathered in the square by the Embassy, and sent them flying for their lives. The Cossacks then marched up the quay, but a little later got caught in a cross-fire and suffered heavy losses. We saw several riderless horses returning at full gallop, and a little later two Cossacks who were bringing back a prisoner were attacked by some soldiers under our windows and nearly murdered.
This situation in Petrograd is as bad as ever, which is hardly to be wondered at seeing that there is no proper police force to maintain order; and the uncertain attitude of the troops causes the Government considerable anxiety. There are however, signs of a reaction, not in favour of a monarchy, but of a stable Government capable of maintaining order and putting an end to the existing anarchy that is steadily spreading over the country. See more
The Government, has, I am convinced, only to act with firmness and it will have the mass of the people behind it. From what Terestchenko tells me, they consider that the psychological moment has arrived for action and, if he really represents their views, they are going to get rid of the Petrograd garrison and employ the Cossacks, who can de thoroughly relied on, should the occasion arise. The result of the recent municipal elections shows that the Extremists are but a small minority and their position is likely to be seriously compromised if, as he hopes, Terestchenko is able to prove that many of their leaders are in German pay. The convocation of an all-Russian Conference of Delegates from all the Workmen’s Councils in Russia, which is to meet in a day or two, will be a new and interesting factor in the situation. It will transform the local Council into a national one and invest it with greater authority and influence. It is generally expected that the admission of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies from the provinces will act in a moderating sense, and if this proves to be the case there will be closer co-operation between the Council and the Government.
As regards the Army the outlook is more hopeful, though the pessimists declare that it is quite incapable of taking an offensive. Ministers, on the other hand, speak with considerable confidence and an offensive will, in my opinion, be certainly undertaken as soon as the difficulties of supplies, etc., have been surmounted, but with what measure of success it will be attended is a matter on which I will not venture to prophesy.
Since writing the above I have seen the Chief of the General Staff who told me that the latest information from the front was far more satisfactory, and that the offensive would be taken within the next fortnight.