The Russian Civil War was the Red Army's first major conflict. Its ill-equipped, starving troops fought fellow countrymen and an invasion force of 10,000 American, British and French soldiers in the freezing wastelands of Siberia and the Ukraine. A brutal and fast moving war, sieges were broken by fiercely armoured trains immortalised in Dr Zhivago. Great land battles in the frozen east of Europe such as Kazan and Kakhovka proved very different from those fought in the west (something the Nazis would also learn to their cost twenty years later). However, the Allied armies together with the forces of Cossack warlords penetrated deep into Russia from Vladivostok towards Moscow conquoring an area the size of Britain before being retreating in the face of a decisive counter-offensive. Likewise the Red Army did not fight alone. Its victory was achieved in alliance with peasant partisans. Unwilling to share his victory, Lenin began a struggle for the soul of the Russian peasantry; this bloody stalemate was only ended by Stalin a decade later through a terror in which millions Russians perished.
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