Six thousand kilometers west of Mongolia, on the Astrakhan side of the Caspian Sea, there is a small autonomous republic of the Russian Federation called Kalmykia. The Kalmyks are the people who suffered the most from the Mongols. What kind of suffering did the people of Kalmyk endure until now? Let me tell you what I found out from the truth of history. The word Kalmyk or "kalmak" is a Turkic and Tatar word meaning "remained, left behind, cut off". Today's Kalmyks call themselves "We are Kalmyks". If we say "You are not Kalmyk, you are Oirat Mongols” will there be people who will understand? Let's tell the true story.
The era of the great kings. The Kalmyks are people of Mongolian descent, originating from Oirat Mongols, Oirats originate from the Torguud and Durvud. The immediate ancestors of the Kalmyks, the Oirat Mongols, lived in the Sayan and Altai mountains in the 13th century. The word "Oirat" comes from the words "close" and "citizen of the forest". In 1208, Chinggis Khan's eldest son Zuchi first led the Mongols to the border of Sayan Altai with his army. At that time, the Oirat leader Hutagu Beh supported the Mongols, and the Oirat Mongols became part of Chinggis Khaan's Great Mongol Empire. After Toghon Temür Khan of the Great Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia was defeated by the Chinese rebels in 1368 and the fall of the Great Mongol Empire, Mahmud, Taichin, and Batbold, the sons of the Oirat lord Munkhtumur, took an oath in 1393 saying, "We Oirats will not obey the great king of Mongolia again, and we will kill the golden linage of Mongolia." Oirat leaders Mahmud /1415/, Togoon /1439/, Esentaysh /1455/, and Galdan /1687/ wanted to become kings and rule all of Mongolia. In 1456, the Oirat lords rebelled against Esentaysh, and Esentaysh was killed.
The separation of Oirat. The history of the establishment of The Four Oirat /Oirat Confederation/ dates back to the moment when Munkhtumur announced that they had separated the 40,000 people from the 100,000 people of Mongolia into the Dzungar Khanate. Thus, the lords of Oirat betrayed Mongolia and started to wage war against Mongolia ever since they received the title in 1409 from the king of Ming, the enemy of Mongolia. The great army of The Four Oirat defeated the great Mongol army, but then they were defeated by the Ming army, their accomplice, and they plunged both themselves and Mongolia into centuries of crisis and degradation. In the 15th – 17th centuries, the Oirat lords separated from Mongolia and established Dzungar Khanate, which was the most ignorant mistake. In fact, it was a law of Chinggis Khaan to execute lords who betrayed their country. But at that time, the Mongols could not enforce the laws of the Great Khan throughout Mongolia. Soon, the struggle and conflict between the Oirat lords for the throne of the Dzungar Khanate reached its peak, they even killed their brothers for the throne and the Oirat Khalkha conflict and crisis continued until the end of the 18th century. Due to this two-hundred-year crisis of Oirat Khalkha and the killing of 20,000 soldiers of Khalkha by the soldiers of Oirat Galdan, Mongolia deteriorated, and finally had no other way but to rely on Manchuria.
Oirat People who moved to Russia. At the beginning of the 17th century, the people of Oirat, who were tired of the internal crisis and war left Dzungar Khanate. The leader of the Torghut, Khuu Urlug, and the leader of the Durvud, Dalai Baatar, together with their subjects, migrated to Russia's Western Siberia in 1605. In 1607, the Oirats who traveled to the River Volga and the Astrakhan steppe of Russia in large numbers sent an ambassador to the Russian king in 1655 to settle there as an ally of the Russian Empire. This is how the Oirats first settled on the banks of the River Volga. The Oirat people did not flee from Manchuria and Mongolia, they were tired of the conflicts and wars of the Oirat lords, they sought a peaceful life without wars and moved westward through the Kazakh and Russian lands to the River Volga and the Astrakhan Steppe of Russia. Later, at the beginning of the 18th century, the people of Oirat moved to Kalmyk to flee from the large Manchu army that was after the Oirat lords who betrayed the Manchu king.
Kalmyk, a citizen of the Russian Empire. The most influential period of Kalmyks was the period of Ayuka Khan / 1664-1721/. This kingdom of Torguud existed until 1771. At the time of Ayuka Khan, many families migrated from the Dzungar Khanate, and a total of 250,000 Kalmyks lived there. Ayuka Khan established friendly relations with the Dzungar Khanate, helped Peter the Great with Kalmyk troops in the war against Sweden, brought back the Nogai people who had been expelled from their land, and united the Kalmyks to form a powerful kingdom. Ayuka Khan was a very famous and valuable person in Russia. He provided invaluable assistance to the Russian government many times. Ayuka Khan sent thousands of horsemen to the Russian side in the war against Turkey and Sweden and suppressed the Astrakhan Revolt /1705-1706/, Bulavin Rebellion /1708/, and Bashkir Rebellion /1705-1711/ with his cavalry.
In the middle of the 17th century, the Turkish Empire, together with its Crimean Tatars, mobilized a powerful army and invaded Russia, Moscow, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania, sometimes capturing and enslaving 100,000 Russian citizens. Therefore, the Russian emperor signed an agreement with the king of Kalmyk to protect and guard the southern border with Kalmyks, and if necessary, he would send troops to war. In 1661, the Turkish-Tatar army, which invaded Russia, was defeated by Kalmyk's cavalry fighting alongside the Russian military. At that time, the King of Kalmyk won a war against Poland in Ukraine with 17,000 horsemen. In 1672, Turkey was about to conquer Ukraine after defeating the European Polish army. The Sultan of Turkey sent a mighty army of 300,000 soldiers against Russia. Ayuka Khan of Kalmyk sent out 15,000 horsemen and Kalmyk's soldiers fought together with Don Cossacks and Russian soldiers and defeated the Turkish-Tatar soldiers in 1675. In 1677, Turkey declared war on Russia. It`s certain. Russia's aggression gained strength in the Caucasus attacked its Turkic brothers and threatened the Crimean Tatars and the Turkic people on the west coast of the Caspian Sea. In 1677, under the leadership of Ibrahim Pasha, 100,000 Turkish soldiers invaded Russia. The Russian king asked Ayuka Khan of Kalmyk for military help again. In 1677, the Kalmyk troops of Ayuka Khan together with the Russian army defeated 100,000 Turkish soldiers. In 1678, Turkey sent out 110,000 soldiers under the leadership of Kara Mustafa. The Crimean Tatar king gave Mustafa an additional 30,000 horsemen. The battle between these two superpowers became fierce and, in the end, the Russian-Ukrainian-Kalmyk joint army defeated 140,000 Turkish soldiers.
In 1678-1679, the Crimean Tatar king attacked the Ukrainian city of Kyiv again but was defeated by the Russian-Kalmyk army. In recognition of the merits of Ayuka Khan of Kalmyk, the Russian government awarded the king, princes, and taishi (grand preceptor) of Kalmyk with a full year's salary, flour, wine, gunpowder, ammunition, and weapons for the year's needs. The Kalmyks played a major role in liberating Bashkir from Turkey and annexing it to Russia in 1681. In 1700-1721, Russia's war against the European power Sweden around the Baltic Sea, the Kalmyk cavalry played a key role in victory. In a decisive battle with the Swedish army near Poltava, Peter the Great won the victory, where the Kalmyk cavalry played a key role. In 1722-1723, when Peter the Great of Russia conducted a military operation against Persia, he was victorious with the participation of 7,000 horsemen of Kalmyk. As a result of this military operation, Russia pushed Persia further, occupied the cities of Derbent and Baku in the Caucasus, took control of Gilan, Mazandaran, Sirvan, and Gorgan, occupied the western and southern shores of the Caspian Sea, and reduced the influence of Turkey and Persia in this region. After the death of Ayuka Khan, the Russian government began to put a lot of pressure on the Kalmyks.
This pressure intensified during the reign of Empress Catherine of Russia. The Russian government banned Kalmyks from living on the east bank of the River Volga and demanded that they live only on the west bank. Russian landowners and peasants began to seize the lands and pastures of the Kalmyks and squeeze them. Kalmyk's prince was taken hostage by the Russian emperor, and the next king of Kalmyk was appointed by the Russian emperor. Many of Kalmyk`s sons were conscripted into the Russian army. Russian farmers restricted the sale of bread to the Kalmyks. When many livestock died in the winter, the Russian government did not provide any help. Ayuka Khan's nephew and niece were forcibly converted to Orthodoxy by the Russians. The Russians built a Christian church in Kalmyk, alienated the youth of Kalmyk from the religion of God, and converted them to the Orthodox religion. The Russian government cut off the traditional foreign relations of the Kalmyks and made it impossible for them to communicate with Dzungar Khanate, Mongolia, Manchuria, and Tibet. The lives of the Kalmyk people turned upside down like the animals of hell.
Publicist: Sukhbaatar Dorj, lawyer, journalist, publicist, historian, and theologian
Translated by T. Narandelger