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Occupation of Kharkiv (1917)
DateDecember 19, 1917 - January 10, 1918
LocationKiev, Ukraine
Result Bolshevik victory
Red Army flag.svg Red Army Roundel of Ukraine.svg Ukrainian Army
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Russian SFSR (1918-1937).svg Antonov-Ovseyenko
Flag of Russian SFSR (1918-1937).svg M.A. Muravyov
10,000 2,700
Casualties and losses
3,200+ killed and wounded 400+ killed and wounded
Ukrainian troops disarmed
300 join the Reds

The Occupation of Kharkiv was the first episode of the Ukrainian-Soviet War, during which on December 23, 1917, the Russian Bolsheviks seized the Ukrainian city Kharkiv and installed Soviet power there. The Ukrainian authorities failed to expell the Bolsheviks and the last Ukrainian regiments in the city were disarmed on January 10, 1918.


Initially, it was stated that the arrival of the Red troops in Ukraine was due only to the need for the advancement of Soviet troops on the Ukrainian railroad that were heading against the rebellious Russian Whites under Alexey Kaledin,which had occupied Rostov-on-Don on 15 December 15. In December 1917 the Leninist government was not yet ready for a full-scale war against the UPR.

A complete anarchy was established in Kharkiv, and even the local Bolsheviks and the Kharkiv City Duma urged the withdrawal of violent red detachments from the city.

On the night of January 10 local Red Guard units unexpectedly disarmed the two regiments of the UNR (2700 bayonets), which had been trying to preserve dual power (UPR and Bolsheviks) in the city for 20 days. Some 300 disarmed UPR soldiers wished to join the socialist revolution and were enlisted in the Soviet Army as an independent unit, the regiment of the Red Cossacks. Kharkiv became the capital of the Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets until 19 April 1918, when German units and the UNR Zaporozhian Division under Petro Bolbochan's command took Kharkiv from the Bolsheviks.

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