In 1920, on this day a representative of the US Government, Washington D. Vanderlip signed a sixty-year lease of the Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula with the Russian Soviet regime. Officially, Vanderlip had been dispatched to Moscow by the State Department with instructions to secure important oil and mining concessions. But at the time, the decision was a matter of little significance for the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), who only occupied but a small fraction of the dissolved Russian Empire, and because the territory was nominally controlled by a a bourgeois-democratic state, the Far Eastern Republic.
A Dagger pointed at our throat by Andrew Beane, Ed. & David AtwellThe capitalist impressario Vanderlip had exceeded his authority, intending to gift the peninsula to President Harding in the manner of an Oriental Monarch. Even when the Moscow authorities insisted on a lease, rather than a purchase, he exclaimed gleeful "I have joined the frontiers of Russia and America!". And yet from a military perspective, it was a smart move for Bolshevist Premier Lenin (pictured) who wanted to stave off war with Japan. America also saw a cut-price opportunity for building a deep-water port at Petropavlovsk. This geopolitical reality was openly acknowledged at the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets on December 7th, when Lenin declared that the United States required a base in Asia "in view of an eventual war with Japan".
"I have joined the frontiers of Russia and America!" ~ Washington D. VanderlipIn fact, Imperialists had recognised the military value of the peninsula for over seventy years. In 1854, the French and British, who were battling Russian forces on the Crimean Peninsula, attacked Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. During the Siege of Petropavlovsk, 988 men with a mere 68 guns managed to defend the outpost against 6 ships with 206 guns and 2,540 French and British soldiers.
Trouble was, the lease did spark a four-year long Pacific War between Japan and America. Because in 1937, Admiral Isoroku Yamomoto designed a pre-emptive strike on Petropavlovsk, which the Imperial Japanese Government considered to be an unacceptable strategic threat, "a dagger to our throat". With the blessings of the Prime Minster Tojo, Yamomoto put the plan to attack Petropavlovsk into motion. Yamomoto selected Vice Admiral Chuich Nagumo to lead the fleet. The fleet consisted at its core of six aircraft carriers: Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, Shokaku, Soryu and Zuikaku. The six carriers had 420 planes between them. Escorting the six carriers were eleven destroyers, two battleships, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, three submarines and eight tankers. Twenty other submarines joined the group before they arrived at their destination at Petropavlovsk.
Whilst America was fully engaged in the Far East, Nazi Germany was expanding unchecked. Having hardly advanced in twenty turbulent years, by 1941, the RSFSR was still a malformed state, not much bigger than one of its predecessor states, the Principality of Muscovy. Unable to resist the Wehrmacht, the RSFSR collapsed, and Western Russia was annexed by Hitler.