With the armistice of Luhansk signed on the 1st of February, 1918, conflict in the Eastern Front was over. However, Russia was still embroiled in conflict.
In February of 1917, the situation in Russia had reached a boiling point. The Tsarist regime had an abysmal popularity, and all kinds of radicals were protesting and fighting against the government. In mid-February, protests in Petrograd would be organized, and would only keep growing. Thousands of people gathered in the streets, and the army was ordered to crack down on the protesters. This simply backfired, as even some of the soldiers joined the revolutionary cause. Tsar Nicholas II would later be forced to abdicate in favor of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, who would refuse to be crowned Tsar until this was ratified by a Constituent Assembly.
Georgy Lvov became Prime Minister of the “Russian Provisional Government”, and an uneasy alliance between the democrats of the Provisional Government and the Soviets was formed. Of course, this alliance wouldn’t last for long, as the two factions had very different ideas. In October 1917, soon before the elections for the Constituent Assembly were held, Soviet militias made a move, launching a revolution and occupying many key locations, including the seat of the government. The Revolution had begun.
Immediately, cities were stormed and swept by Red guards, as the democratic government collapsed in record time. However, a key for the Soviets was the Constituent Assembly. While many including Lenin were opposed to such an assembly that, in their minds, was a bourgeois legislature, they understood it represented the will of the people and that the people supported it. Therefore, elections for the Assembly were allowed: the result was a big victory for the Socialist Revolutionaries, with the Kadets and Bolsheviks behind. However, the SRs would soon split between the pro-Bolsheviks and the anti-Bolsheviks, meaning many anti-Bolsheviks were now in the Assembly.
Following tensions between the different factions, Lenin reached a compromise: the Constituent Assembly would continue functioning as long as it agreed to carry out new elections to truly represent the people quite soon. After three weeks of convening, the second democratic elections in Russia’s history were held: the Bolsheviks and Left-SRs won a comfortable victory. Of course, some unconventional campaigning and ballot stuffing was involved, but at least democracy was respected to an extent. The Constituent Assembly would go on to pass many socialist laws, including the 1918 Russian Constitution, but possibly its most important duty would be to orchestrate a meeting between Russia and Germany to discuss peace terms.
The Armistice of Luhansk was signed on the 1st of February. The terms were particularly harsh for the Russians: Finland would be granted independence, while Poland, Ukraine and Crimea would become German satellites. Additionally, a loose confederation of 3 duchies named the United Baltic Duchy would be formed and ruled by Baltic German nobility. Finally, concessions were also made to the Ottomans. This was technically a victory for both sides, as both would have peace and could focus elsewhere, yet in reality both were not too fond of each other. However, a new threat would soon appear for the Russians as resistance to the radical regime grew.
The first hot-spot of resistance was in South Russia. Local cossack groups were not happy with the new regime, and so during the early spring launched uprisings to kick out the Bolsheviks, which they did. Soon, a united front mainly led by the Cossacks of the Don would take control of the region. Additionally, in Siberia, which was more difficult to administer, former Imperial soldiers as well as supporters of the republic (supporters of the monarchy were very few) also seized many cities, forcing the Bolsheviks east of the Urals to either retreat in large pockets or to withdraw to a line just east of Kazan and Samara.
It would take time for these groups to fall. Additionally, the Germans began supporting enemies of the Bolsheviks: the Principality of Belarus was founded in Ruthenian territories, the Don Cossacks received large amount of support in funds and weapons and so did the Northwest Russian Army, a force cornered in the Pskov area. These groups would also receive German “volunteer troops”, although often they were actual Heer units. Throughout 1918, the conflict between the Bolsheviks and the resistance groups was limited, although some advances were made in the east. However, in 1919, following a proper reorganization of the Revolutionary Army, new offensives began. The southern Russian resistance was pushed further and further into the mountains of the Caucasus, where they would eventually collaborate with local separatist forces or escape to the pro-Central Powers nations of the Caucasus.
Germany wished to take pressure off the anti-Bolsheviks, and so supported the so called “March on Petrograd”. With heavy support from Berlin, the Northwest Russian Army led by Rodzyanko and Yudenich began attacking northwards with the aim of taking Petrograd, a key city. The army would eventually approach the capital of the nation, but a coordinated Bolshevik counter-offensive sent them into retreat. Soon, Rodzyanko was forced back into his original territories, only being held up by the Central Powers. During 1919 and 1920, the Bolsheviks would make advances in Siberia and mostly crush the resistance there. This cemented their position as the dominant Russian government. Additionally, a new agreement with Germany was signed, recognizing the independence of the Principality of Belarus while getting permission to invade the rump Northwest Army, as they did not want to come into conflict with the Kaiserreich again.
The Belarus agreement marked the effective end of conflict in Eastern Europe and Russia. Now, Germany began long-term planning about the future of its sphere of influence in the east as outlined by the Armistice of Luhansk. Firstly, stable governments would need to be formed, although they were already in place for the most part. In Poland, a kingdom had been established, but a regency was in control until a king could be elected. This decision was made in 1919, with the expected candidate being chosen: Archduke Charles Stephen, member of the House of Habsburg, mostly due to his fluency in Polish and knowledge of Polish culture in general. With a king having been decided, the Regency Council was disbanded. Still, its members dominated Polish politics in the future.
In the United Baltic Duchy, Adolf Pilar von Pilchau had assumed the role of temporary leader on behalf of the German Kaiser. This position was maintained, with von Pilchau reigning as the representative of Wilhelm II. Lithuania also saw the installment of Prince Joachim, son of Wilhelm, as its King. Belarus would remain under a regency, until a proper prince could be found. The only country to be spared of a foreign monarch was Ukraine, which maintained a semi-democratic government heavily influenced by Germany and Austria. Additionally, the German High Command formed a plan for a proper military defense and “occupation” of all these territories. As long as the country remained at peace, a garrison composed of approximately 20% German troops and 80% local ones would be formed and stationed across these satellite states. (Of course, even the local troops would be commanded by Germans) This was considered by the Ludendorff junta a good balance that would not keep too many Heer troops in the east, but still maintain a large force to fight foreign enemies or uprisings that would be inevitable.
With the stabilization of the eastern lands through military and political effort, the German government turned towards integrating the economies and exploiting the resources of their satellites. For this reason, on the 2nd of August, 1922, representatives from the governments of Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania met to negotiate the creation of Mitteleuropa, a strong economic union designed for Germany to dominate it. While these satellites would get the short straw, later on in its history Mitteleuropa would allow a “limited cooperation” to encourage other European nations to participate without suffering from these harsh terms.