Central-Asian Cotton as a Missed Strategic Resource for the Production of Smokeless Gunpowder in Russia in the Late 19th – Early 20th Centuries
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Central-Asian Cotton as a Missed Strategic Resource for the Production of Smokeless Gunpowder in Russia in the Late 19th – Early 20th Centuries
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Илья Сергиевский 
Military Academy of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russian Federation
Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

The most important military-strategic resource to this day is gunpowder, the basis for the production of which is cotton. Due to the difficult geopolitical situation, as well as global climate change, attempts to replace it with other types of raw materials of domestic origin do not stop. In this publication, we would like to refer to the experience of the past, because in the late 19th — early 20th centuries the Russian Empire was forced to face similar problems. The country faced a similar dilemma — to use foreign-made cotton or to develop its own raw material base in Central Asia. The realization of this goal was achieved through the use of previously unpublished archival materials from the Russian State Historical Archive, the Russian State Military Historical Archive, the Russian State Military Archive, the State Archive of the Tambov Region, the scientific archive of the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering and Communications Troops. Historical-genetic and systemic methods were used to prepare the publication. Mathematical and statistical methods were used as auxiliary research methods. Thanks to this, it was possible to fully recreate the picture of various origins cotton use for the production of gunpowder in Russia in the late 19th — early 20th centuries. The historiography of the problem under consideration is characterized. The key factors influencing the use of foreign raw materials in the production of gunpowder in the Russian Empire have been identified. Repeated attempts have been made to use Central-Asian cotton for these purposes. The results of the work of the domestic powder industry during the First World War (1914—1918), as well as the main difficulties associated with providing it with cotton of both foreign and Russian origin are considered. Thanks to the appeal to historical experience, it was established that Russian bureaucracy and inertia were negatively manifested when trying to use domestic cotton for the production of smokeless gunpowder; it was revealed that at a critical moment foreign supplies may stop, which emphasizes the need to develop their own raw materials and production base; it is proved that the "cotton problem" has become one of those delay mines which led to failures at the front and the subsequent collapse of the Russian Empire.

gunpowder, cotton, pyroxylin, nitrocellulose, smokeless powder, cotton ends, Middle Asia, Central Asia, artillery, Main Artillery Department, powder factories, Kazan Powder Factory, Okhta Powder Factory, Tambov Powder Factory, Tashkent Cotton Gin Factory, shell famine
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