The Makhnovshchina came under massive attack from the Whites. The south, near and including parts of Ukraine, was a strong hold of the White counter-revolution. General Denikin commanded the Whites in the south for most of this period, until 1920 when General Wrangel took over. Despite this, the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of the Ukraine was able to successfully drive out multiple white invasions from Denikin and then Wrangel.
The RIAU was outgunned and outnumbered in many battles, yet managed to win anyway. One example was on September 25th 1919 at the village of Peregonovka when some militias, after retreating 400 miles, found themselves surrounded by Denikin’s White army. They succeeded in turning Denikin flank with a tiny force of cavalry and in the ensuing panic Denikin’s army was routed. This action was one of the most massive defeats inflicted on them. Denikin came the closest of any white General to victory. In October of that same year he came within 120 miles of Moscow. The Red army was eventually able to beat him and save their dictatorship, but had the Anarchists not done significant damage to his army in Ukraine Denikin may well have taken Moscow. (111) The Bolshevik Victor Serge admitted that the Makhnovists “inflicted a defeat on General Denikin from which the later was never to recover.”