On October 13, 1954 Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, surrendered the oldest and most important Soviet military base in the Pacific without a fight. It is common knowledge that at the end of the XIX century, in order to counteract the rapidly militarizing Japan, Russia leased Port Arthur, the deep-water port at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula in Manchuria, from China for 25 years.
However, in 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War, due to the betrayal of some Russian politicians and generals, Russia lost this naval base.
In August 1945, members of the 117th Air Regiment of the Pacific Fleet Air Force, the 6th Guards Tank Army, and the 39th Army liberated the entire Liaodong Peninsula with its cities of Dalian and Port Arthur from the Japanese. Port Arthur, the most important base for the Pacific Fleet was again handed over by Beijing to the Soviet Union, for 30 years this time. By that time, it became clear what country was our main enemy in the Pacific Ocean. It was the United States that fought in the Korean Civil War. Once again, Moscow spent huge funds for the development of Port Arthur. Its powerful garrison allowed the USSR to effectively counter the U.S. Navy which had occupied the bases in Japan, on the USSR’s far-flung Pacific frontiers.
However, in the autumn of 1954, the garrison of Port Arthur was once again betrayed by top Soviet leadership. The government delegation headed by Nikita Khrushchev arrived there. Nikolai Bulganin, Anastas Mikoyan, Nikolay Shvernik, Nikolai Kuznetsov, First Deputy Minister of Defense of the USSR and the commander-in-chief of the Navy, Rodion Malinovsky, the commander of the Far Eastern military district, and others came along with him.
On October, 13 Khrushchev made a statement about the forthcoming surrender of Port Arthur.
Here is a quote from the memoirs of General M. Belousov, the military counterintelligence agent: “...Only three minutes have passed from the beginning of the report by Vasily Shvetsov, the commander of the 39th Army of the Far Eastern Military District, when Khrushchev brought down his hand with a bang on the table literally shouting: “Stop talking! You’d better tell me, why are you standing here?”... Shvetsov calmly said: “To protect the Far Eastern borders of our Motherland.” Khrushchev cut him short: “This is a tsarist and imperialist policy. Who are you going to defend here and from whom? You'd better tell me how long it will take to clear out all your soldiers from here, and even your spirit.
...Shvetsov replied: “Three or four months.” General Penionozhko who was also there, said: “It is not enough!” Khrushchev said: “I give you five months. At the end of this period, none of you must be here. And now let's move to the next issue – what will we sell to the Chinese, and what will give away for free” ... Then Khrushchev continued: “Everything that was built here [on Kwantung] by the tsar, by us and by the Japanese is to be given to the Chinese for free. I mean barracks, warehouses, houses, reservoirs and so on. What we brought here from the Soviet Union is to be sold.” A.M. Penionozhko asked for permission to put in a question. “As I understood,” he said, “shall we give away the expensive things and sell all minor items?” Bulganin started answering his question: “Yes, you understood it correctly.” Khrushchev continued: “All weapons, equipment and ammunition are to be sold!”
So why did Khrushchev do it? The fact is that when Stalin was still in power, the leaders of Western countries were actively discussing how to change the world after Stalin’s death. In January 1953, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Harry Truman held talks on this issue in Washington. It was decided to draw a rosy picture to the post-Stalinist leadership of the Soviet Union. In doing so, it would have to withdraw all the troops from Austria, Finland and China. In return, the economic sanctions from the war-weakened USSR would be removed and the assistance to accelerate the socio-economic development of the USSR would be rendered. In May 1953, as a confirmation of sincerity of intentions, the Western leaders indeed eased the sanctions. In order to make the “carrot” more attractive, after Stalin's death, new commercial credit lines became available for the USSR in member countries of NATO, Australia and New Zealand. In return, the Western countries asked for a mere trifle. Namely, to demonstrate at least a small shift away from Stalin's policy and to reduce the Soviet military presence in China and in the Baltic Sea area. Alas, Khrushchev lapped it up. Since 1954, the publication of Stalin's works was stopped. At the end of 1955, Zhdanov and Molotov Information Bureau of Communist and Workers' Parties that had been created on the initiative of Stalin, was disbanded. The self-defeating action was completed by the anti-Stalinist XX Congress. Khrushchev easily and thoughtlessly sacrificed Port Arthur for the benefit of the United States. Certainly, he got a big fat nothing in return.
Meanwhile, the subversive activities against the USSR carried out by the Western countries intensified notably. In 1958 and 1959, the U.S. Congress adopted a resolution “On Enslaved Peoples.” According to this document, the development of a plan to dismember the USSR into several puppet states in the near future began. The U.S. troops did not even think about leaving their military bases in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. According to the Western military, the absence of the Soviet Union in Port Arthur was one of the factors that enticed the aggression from the side of the U.S. in Indo-Сhina from 1966 through 1974. Moreover, the events on Damansky Island in 1969 that left a deep imprint on the Russians’ memory, would hardly have taken place if the Soviet planes had been parked on the airdromes a couple of hours’ flight from Beijing.
By the way, General Anatoly Stessel, who surrendered Port Arthur to the Japanese in 1904, was sentenced to death in Russia. The court found that during the entire period of defense, he did not lead the garrison to defend the fortress, but, on the contrary, deliberately prepared it for surrender. Khrushchev got a more drastic punishment. In people's memory he remained a short-sighted strategist who surrendered the country. Chances are it will be a strong reminder to those who would like to sell off Russia’s interests.