November 21, 1918
Accomplishing an instruction having as its final objective our occupation of Revel* and Valka critically endangers all the rear of operating forces due to a strong menace that could emerge suddenly and at any moment from the Karelian Isthmus side. I believe my duty to express an opinion that not only future, but also present 7th Army situation, which has not yet started its attack westward is wrought with danger; as well the operation with a goal to occupy Narva and Pskov is not secured from Karelian Isthmus side, because White Finns forces are just several day marches away from Petrograd. In the future, in case of a westbound advance developing, this menace to operating forces rear will go imminently increasing.
Taking those considerations into account I propose, as Narva and Pskov occupation progresses, principal forces would not be transferred, even temporary, before situation becomes clear, beyond the line formed by Narova and Velikaya Rivers, but limit ourselves by sending forward advanced detachments in order to occupy more important points in directions of Revel and Valka.
By means of strenghtening forces at the Karelian Isthmus, of strenghtening ingineering defence of the late and, particularly, of strengthening of the corresponding group of the army and front reserves, as well as by way of possible fleet coöperation, all measures are taken or are being taken to diminish the above mentioned menace, but those measures could however turn out to be insufficient. Finnish troops, whose number in the area of Vyborg and that of the Karelian Isthmus amounts to 15 or 20 thousand, are able quickly and unnoticed by us, concentrate at the border at about one and a half or two day marches from Petrograd and they can as well attack promptly. In case of a successful advance of the Finns be it just one day march, our forces, well advanced to the west, especially towards Revel, will be, just because of this circumstance, put into danger of being cut from their rear, and the 7th Army Direction and all military and organisational apparatus of the Petrograd Center will be forced to urgently relocate. This menacing situation will become even more dangerous in case of the British descent to support the Finns somewhere in the area of Hanko or Porkkala-Udd, or maybe even directly at Trångsund raid near Vyborg or near Björkö, which is quite possible and well backed in view of miserable state of our fleet. Imminent freezing of every waterways will only simplify enemy action from the Karelian Isthmus as well as, possibly, from Revel.
I would propose the following measures that could rectify our strategic situation in a more radical way as far as the 7th Army and all the Northern Fleet are concerned.
Whether we concentrate right now a considerable amount of our best forces in Petrograd region and they will amount in number up to about three divisions and we promptly attack Vyborg and Kexholm in order to, after we fortify ourselves on the very advantageous defense line on Vuoksa Lake and on other lakes as well we would secure Petrograd. At the same time it would really endanger Vyborg itself as well as connection between this city and Serdobol. In this case there will not be any moves in the west except maybe occupying Narva and Narova line.
Or, in case the above is deemed impossible for some reason, we leave forces on the Karelian Isthmus at their present state and, after having taken all the necessary defence measures the 7th Army headquarter moves to Malaya Vishera and the center of Petrograd military organization is in advance moved in some other more secure location, thus liberating Petrograd from everything precious and superficial from a combat point of view. On the west, instead, after Narva and Pskov are occupied, we do not move our main forces, and even if we do, only in direction from Pskov to Valka, in connection with more southern move of the whole western area forces advancement.
As the second measure among those mentioned above does not fully provide to us, I deem the first one more decisive and more prone to achieve the objective. It would seem obvious that we should not be shy about jeopardizing Belofinns rights with our advancement; if we are shy with them now, they will certainly not be as shy towards us in the future, when they deem it to their advantage and they may greatly embarrass us by their attack. Advancement towards Vyborg and Kexholm, except what was pointed out here above, will critically endanger also Serdobol area where Finnish troops are and it will make extremely difficult the advancement of the late towards Olonets. The same might substantially influence the matter in case if the English move towards Mourmansk direction to Petrozavodsk. Finally, if we gather in the Olonets area even a small group of our forces, we will strongly menace at the same time Serdobol from that side as well. In general, the first measure out of the proposed ones is decisive and have a chance to succeed, it will be possibly come as a surprise for the enemy, it is capable to break its plans and it leads to an objective; however, this measure should be taken the sooner the better, before it is too long. In this case our advancement towards Narva and Pskov could play the role of beautiful demonstration. It goes without saying that I am not well oriented as far as general political situation and calculations are concerned, although from this point of view as well, while advancing towards Vyborg, Kexholm and Serdobol we should count on Red Finns support. It is not evidently known precisely what local population and Germans attitude we will be confronted with while we move westward.
The above considerations, in addition to the Nothern Front Revolutionary Military Counsel Notes NN 077, 078 and 0180 I forward to your goodwill consideration and that of the Revolutionary Military Counsel of the Republic.
Nothern Front Commander-in-Chief
Member of Revolutionary Military Counsel
The Central State Archives of the Soviet Army, fund 105, list 1, file 20, pp. 105-106. Copy.
Translated by Alexandre Nikolaev