The Russo-Japanese War (8 February 1904 – 5 September 1905) was “the first great war of the 20th century.” It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were Southern Manchuria, specifically the area around the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden; and the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow Sea.
The Russians sought a warm water port on the Pacific Ocean, for their navy as well as for maritime trade. Vladivostok was only operational during the summer season, but Port Arthur would be operational all year. From the end of the First Sino-Japanese War and 1903, negotiations between Russia and Japan had proved impractical. Japan chose war to gain dominance in Korea. After discussions broke down in 1904, the Japanese Navy attacked the Russian eastern fleet at Port Arthur, a naval base in the Liaotung province leased to Russia by China, which led to war. The Russians were hardly organized and the Japanese defeated them in a series of battles on land and at sea.
The resulting campaigns, in which the Japanese military attained victory over the Russian forces arrayed against them, were unexpected by world observers. As time transpired, these victories would transform the balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japan’s recent entry onto the world stage.