America's General Eisenhower referred to it as "cross-ruffing." Coincidentally or otherwise, the timing of Operation Torch came close to the Russian counterattack at Stalingrad, and Operation Husky preceded the Battle of Kursk by a few days. And the Western leaders met with Stalin at Teheran, Yalta, and elsewhere to coordinate the various countries' activities? Late in the war, the western Allies and the Soviets met at Torgau, Germany.

Was a similar level of cooperation undertaken by the Western Allies and Russia in World War I? The logical place for this was Turkey. During most of 1915 (and into early 1916, Britain and France attacked the Turks at {Gallipoli]2 in Northwest Turkey. Late in 1915, the Russians attacked northeast Turkey with over 300,000 men, capturing Erzurum (Turkish Armenia). In early 1916, they advanced to Trabizon, on the Black Sea, just as the Allies were leaving Gallipoli.

Also of note is the fact that early in 1916, the British and Russians both invaded Iran in the Persian campaign, but could never seem to get to the same place at the same time.

Were these actions part of an intended, if unsuccessful attempt at coordinating, or meeting the British by the Russians? I am puzzled by the fact that the Russians sent "only" tens of thousands of men toward the British forces moving north from southern Iran (and later southern Iraq), while the bulk of Russian Caucasus forces were in northern Turkey. Given that the Gallipoli campaign was unable to open up a transport route to Russia, would it have made sense to try for a connection through Iraq or Iran (the latter was the case in World War II)? Or was the hypothetical Iraq/Iran route so inferior that the Russians felt the need to stake their fortunes on a slim chance of a linkup with the British in northern Turkey?

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    How are these agents identical? Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 10:03

2 Answers 2


The Entente allies did cooperate and coordinate. But on a much smaller scale than in a later war and even much much less so with Russia. Among the Western powers a Supreme War Council (SWC) emerged over time. But it was only founded in 1917, after the Russian Revolution. With Russia the exchanges were minute in comparison. Diplomatic channels were used early on but more on topics like exchanging war aims. For example, Russia wanted to exclude Italy from joining the war as to not give them any stake in claiming any territory later in case of winning.

The Triple Entente had been forged among adversaries. This was especially true of Russia and Britain, whose agreement in 1907 was intended to de-escalate tensions between the two. Their uneasy relationship was dramatically transformed as a consequence of the war. As Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith said at a dinner on 9 May 1916:

One of the most gratifying results of our Alliance is the complete agreement which has been established between the British and Russian Governments in regard to Eastern affairs … The days of misunderstanding are happily over, and whether it be in Turkey or in Persia or wherever British and Russian interests come into contact with one another, we have arrived at a common policy which we are both determined loyally and in concert to pursue.

The successes of 1916 led France and Britain to agree in mid-November of that year to apply the same strategy of coordination and simultaneous offensives in 1917. At that time, the question of a conference with Russia regarding strategy arose. The Petrograd Conference, though significant for the cohesion of the alliance, was rendered irrelevant by the Russian revolution that broke out only a couple of weeks after its end.


As David Lloyd George recounted after the war:

The real weakness of Allied strategy was that it never existed. Instead of one great war with a united front, there were at least six separate and distinct wars with a separate, distinct and independent strategy for each. There was some pretence at timing the desperate blows with a rough approach to simultaneity. The calendar was the sole foundation of inter-Allied strategy … There was no real unity of conception, co-ordination of effort or pooling of resources in such a way as to deal the enemy the hardest knocks at his weakest point. There were so many national armies, each with its own strategy and its own resources to carry it through …

The failure of the French and British to coordinate their strategy and the resulting defeat in the first joint operation of the war resulted in anger and recriminations that strained Anglo-French relations. Still more problematic was the fact that there were no plans for Anglo-Russian cooperation. (Weitsman)

The Lloyd George quote is of course a bit of idealistic hyperbole. But the level of coordination did improve mainly between French and British after 1915, between East and West it was more like "We're a bit stressed, please attack from your side as well, big time, please!"
How much any supplies and financial aid would count towards "coordination" seems debatable.

— Jehuda Lothar Wallach: "Uneasy Coalition: The Entente Experience in World War I", Greenwood, 1993.

— Meighen McCrae: "Coalition Strategy and the End of the First World War. The Supreme War Council and War Planning, 1917–1918", Cambridge Universiyt Press: Cambridge, New York, 2019.

— Patricia A. Weitsman: "Alliance Cohesion and Coalition Warfare: The Central Powers and Triple Entente", Security Studies, 12:3, pp79–113, 2003


In WW1 Russia was formally a member of the Entente, while during WW2 the Soviet Union was cooperating with the Allies more because of a common enemy. A good example of the coordination between the members of the Entente is the year 1916: as the battle of Verdun unfolded and proved to be very costly to the French army, the British launched the Somme offensive (not so successful) in the west, while the Russian army had the Brusilov offensive (more successful). One of the goals of these attacks was indeed to relieve the pressure on the French Army.

As for equipment, I do know that some Russian rifles (Mosin-Nagant) were actually produced under license in France, in the town of Chatellerault.

There was also a corps of Russian troops fighting on the Western front, they were interned and deported following the February revolution.

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    Also, the entire point of Gallipoli was to force the Dardanelles and open a maritime supply route to Russia through the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 13:28

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