During the reign of Nicholas I, Petersburg persistently tried to solve the main problem that was set before Russia in Catherine’s times. The eastern question attracted the main attention of Russian diplomacy. Petersburg wanted to control the Bosporus and Dardanelles, eliminating the danger of an enemy fleet in the Black Sea (meaning the British fleet). The Black (Russian) Sea was to become the “Russian Lake”. At the same time, the issue of freedom of economic relations in the Black and Mediterranean Seas, freedom of Russian exports, and all of South Russian maritime trade was resolved. Russia was to take a strong position in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In addition, it was necessary to solve the problem of liberation of the Balkan Christian and Slavic peoples from the Ottoman yoke. There was a sacred meaning to the Eastern question. Russia was the direct heir to the "Second Rome" - the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople-Tsargrad and the temple of St. Sophia needed to be released. Constantinople could become another great city of the empire, one of its capitals, along with the ancient capitals - Kiev and Moscow.
Under Catherine, under Paul, under Alexander, these questions were worked out, projects were being developed for annexation of the Balkan possessions of Turkey, the straits, and Constantinople. This process was especially active under Catherine II, when Russia won over Turkey twice. A “Dacian project” of restoring the Byzantine Empire was created, on the throne of which it was planned to plant a representative of the Romanov dynasty. In the future, activity in this area fell somewhat, since Russia got involved in the fight against the French, although the war with France, which did not have common borders with us and fundamental contradictions, did not meet the national interests of the Russian people. It was more reasonable to move forward and develop already joined territories in the East and the South. All the main forces, resources and attention were directed to the struggle with France, Napoleon. And Napoleon during the Tilsit meeting was ready to support Russia in the issue of the straits. The solution of this task the French emperor considered urgently necessary for Russia. I must say that Napoleon was ready to give Russia and the whole of Scandinavia, and not just Finland. The main thing is that Russia does not climb into Western European affairs. Unfortunately, St. Petersburg did not take advantage of this, in fact, Russia in the wars with France fought for the national interests of England, partly Austria and Prussia. Russian soldiers generously paid for them with their lives.
Nicholas I rather severely changed the policy of Russia, which worried Vienna very much. He supported the uprising of the Greeks, although up to this point Greece was sympathetic, but did not help, since they had raised an uprising against the "legitimate monarch" Sultan Mahmud II. Russia and Austria were the basis of the Holy Alliance, which supported the monarchical system in Europe and suppressed revolutionary tendencies, the Greeks were considered "rebel". Russian fleet sent to the aid of the English and French. The Turks were defeated in the Battle of Navarino. With this, Russia ensured the neutrality of Britain and France in the Russian-Turkish war of the 1828 — 1829. This war was successful for Russia; it received most of the eastern coast of the Black Sea (including the cities of Anapa, Sujuk-Kale, Sukhum) and the Danube Delta. Serbia became autonomous. However, the issue of the straits was not resolved.
The success of Russia greatly alarmed the British, who were building a global empire and poking their nose everywhere. Naturally, they were not going to cede Russia to strategically important straits, to allow the strengthening of Russian positions in the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East. The prospect of a Russian exit to the Persian Gulf and India loomed. Given the strategic location of the Russian Empire ("the heart of the Earth"), it could become the dominant power on the planet. This London has not tripled. British diplomacy began to actively oppose Russia.
After the Peace of Adrianople, St. Petersburg again became interested in European problems, first the July revolution in France in 1830, projects to intervene in French affairs, then the uprising in Poland 1830-1831, then the creation of Belgium. Only the 1832 year was able to tackle the Eastern question closely, here Turkey itself gave a reason. 1831, a vassal of the Turkish Sultan, the governor of Egypt Mohammed Ali Pasha raised an uprising. Khedive Muhammad conducted a series of reforms, reorganized his troops under European standards, turning Egypt into a powerful state, seized Northern Sudan, and decided to gain full independence. During the Russian-Turkish war of 1829 — 1830, the Egyptian Khedive stopped paying tribute to Mahmoud II. The Egyptian army captured the key fortress of Saint-Jean d'Acres, occupying the whole of Turkish Syria. The commander of the Egyptian army adopted son of Mohammed Ali Ibrahim Pasha twice defeated the Turkish army and planned to cross into the European possessions of Turkey. The port was on the verge of a military disaster. Sultan Mahmud II began to seek help from the European powers. But who could really help? France secretly supported the Egyptian Khedive, clearly hoping to strengthen its position in Egypt. London encouraged the Sultan more with words and letters, only Petersburg was ready to immediately render military assistance. Sultan knew that he would have to pay for the help, but there was no other way out.
It is clear that the British looked at the progressive union between the Ottoman Empire and Russia with great concern. The best agent of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Henry Palmerston - Stretford Canning, was sent to Turkey in 1831. He organized a spy network around the Russian embassy. Returning from Istanbul to 1832, Stretford Canning was marked by a high diplomatic mission - he was sent as ambassador to St. Petersburg. But Emperor Nicholas refused to accept him. This caused a diplomatic scandal. The Russian emperor did not want to see in his capital a professional in the “Russian issue” who was conducting active anti-Russian activities in Greece and Turkey.
At this time, the Egyptian fleet drove the Turkish squadron into the Sea of Marmara and stood at the Dardanelles. At any time, Egyptian ships could enter the Sea of Marmara, sink or seize Turkish ships, and land troops from Istanbul. And the Egyptian army under the command of Ibrahim Pasha was a few days away from Constantinople. Turkish ministers rushed to the British ambassador, then to the French, but received nothing but condolences, consolations and vague promises. The Ottoman Sultan fell into complete panic, tearfully begged for help from Nicholas. The Russian emperor responded immediately. He gave the appropriate order to General Nikolai Nikolaevich Muravyov. 8 (20) February 1833, the Russian squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Lazarev, approached the Golden Horn and landed troops consisting of two infantry regiments, Cossack cavalry and several artillery batteries. The squadron consisted of 4 battleships and 5 frigates. The news of the appearance of the Russian squadron in the Bosphorus caused a terrible alarm in the English and French embassies, where they saw in a panic how the Russians occupy Constantinople. The French Ambassador Russen even convinced the Turkish sultan not to give the Russians permission to disembark the troops, promising to convince the Egyptian Khedive to stop military operations. The Sultan conveyed to the Russian Ambassador Butenev a request to go to the shore and convey to Lazarev a proposal not to approach the shore. But Butenev was “late”, but Lazarev did not linger.
British and French diplomacy now really wanted to stop the Egyptian troops, so that the sultan could ask the Russian troops and the fleet to leave. But they were hindered by mutual suspicions and attempts to outwit each other. The British waited as usual, believing that the French would be active. The French suspected the British of being cunning that a trap was being prepared for them. As a result, the Egyptians nobody crammed. Ibrahim Pasha, seeing that no one bothers him, moved on. Smyrna withdrew from the power of the Ottomans and transferred to the Egyptian commander. Sultan Mahmud again had to humiliate himself before the Russians. Praying for help. Emperor Nicholas immediately sent reinforcements to the Bosporus. In early April, the Bosporus had already had a serious Russian grouping - 20 of battleships and frigates, and more than 10 thousand fighters were stationed on the Asian coast of the Bosporus, in the area of Unkiar-Iskelessi.
On April 24 (May 6), Russian Extraordinary Ambassador Alexei Orlov arrived in Constantinople. He had to convince Ibrahim Pasha to withdraw his troops and conclude a new treaty with Porto with Russia that would concern the straits. Both cases Orlov performed brilliantly. The Russian diplomat persuaded Ibrahim to lead the army beyond the Taurus range. The Russian army and navy had sufficient authority to make the Egyptians moderate their ardor. 26 June (8 July) 1833 was signed an agreement on peace, friendship and a defensive alliance between Russia and Turkey in Unkiar-Iskelesi. The treaty provided for a military alliance between the two powers in the event that one of them was attacked. The secret supplementary clause of the treaty generously permitted Porte not to send troops to help Russia, but demanded the closure of the straits for ships of any power (except Russia). As the Russian diplomat noted, F. I. Brunnov: "Never have any negotiations been conducted in Constantinople with more secrecy, nor completed with greater speed." Orlov acted so cleverly, quickly, so skillfully gave bribes, made such an innocent and sincere look in negotiations with the British and French, prepared the matter so secretly that Palmerston and the French king Louis-Philippe found out about the treaty in a very unpleasant surprise. They could not prevent anything. In the British and French diplomatic circles they then said that Orlov had bought everyone except the sultan, and that was only because it seemed to the graph already an unnecessary expense.
It was a brilliant diplomatic victory for Russia. A significant step was taken to ensure the security of the Russian Black Sea region. The Black and Marmara seas were closed to potential opponents of Russia. In England, this treaty was called "shameless," although they themselves always acted in a similar way, defending only their own interests. London expressed a sharp protest. In Paris, they were also very annoyed. From the southern strategic direction, Russia was now invulnerable to the fleets of the Western powers. In addition, there was a threat to the position of England and France in the Mediterranean, the provisions of the treaty allowed the unhindered exit of Russian ships from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Up to this point, Russia, if it wanted to create a maritime group in the Mediterranean, had to lead ships from the Baltic Sea, bypassing all of Europe. In Vienna, they pretended to be pleased with the success of an ally in the Holy Alliance, but were very concerned.
October 28 1833, England and France have jointly protested. They said that if Russia decided to introduce armed forces into the Ottoman Empire, then both powers would act as if the Unkar-Iskelesi Treaty "did not exist." Nicholas replied to France that if the Turks invoked Russian troops on the basis of a treaty, he would act as if the French protest "did not exist." England responded in the same way.
Alexey Fedorovich Orlov (1787 - 1862).
It is clear that Emperor Nicholas was not going to stop there. It was only the first step. The Ottoman Empire was decaying, which confirmed the defeat of Egypt, which almost ended in a military-political catastrophe with the loss of the overwhelming part of the Asian possessions, and then of the European ones. The political elite of Turkey was completely destroyed, today Ottoman ministers took bribes from Orlov, and tomorrow they will take from the British and French. In addition, the Ottoman Empire was in financial and economic dependence on the Western powers. Nikolay knew that the Unkar-Iskelesi treaty was not lasting. Needed was Russia's military control of the straits. However, Nikolay wanted to get support in this matter from one of the Western powers. He believed that an agreement should be reached with England or Austria. But the emperor could not negotiate with Palmerston about the future of Turkey. London had a clearly hostile position on this issue.
It was decided to try to reach an agreement with Austria. It must be said that the Austrian military-diplomatic circles were not only alarmed by the Russian successes, but were afraid of them. The Adrianople Treaty of 1829 gave Russia the mouth of the Danube and allowed Russian troops to control Moldavia and most of Wallachia. In fact, Moldova, Wallachia and Serbia moved into the sphere of influence of Russia. Russia gained control over the strategically important mouth of the Danube, which allowed it to control a significant part of the Austrian economy. According to Austrian diplomats and the military, including the famous Metternich, the independent Ottoman Empire was beneficial to the Austrian power. Turkey restrained Russia's offensive in the Caucasus and the Balkans. The existence of Turkey allowed Austria itself to lead the expansion in the Balkans. Russia did not want to let Vienna to the Balkans. But Russia had strong trumps, as compared with Austria, a single religion and blood with the Balkan peoples (factor of Orthodoxy and Slavic origin). In addition, the success of Russia in the Balkans led to the destruction of the “patchwork” empire itself. The Slavs who were part of the Austrian Empire — the Poles, the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Slovenes, the Rusyns, the Croats — could rise and demand independence. The capture of Russian troops of Constantinople automatically led to the liberation of all the Balkans from the Ottomans.
At the moment when the Russians seize Constantinople, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Chancellor of the Austrian Empire, Metternich, Austria would become a Russian province. When, in 1830, Nicholas refused to take part in the “declaration” conceived by Metternich, which guaranteed the independence of the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Chancellor finally became convinced that the issue of the destruction of Turkey in St. Petersburg was already resolved. The Unkar-Iskelesi Treaty was a convincing confirmation. But what to do? Obviously, the Austrians could not resist Russia. They themselves had serious internal problems, a revolution was advancing, there were contradictions with Prussia, it was necessary to monitor the situation in southern Germany. Austrian diplomacy had to be silent on the Eastern issue, actively intriguing in the “diplomatic underground”. In the event of a serious revolutionary explosion in Austria, only Russia could help.
10 September 1833 of the year Nicholas arrived in Austrian Munich, for a meeting with the emperor Franz and negotiations with Metternich. In Austria, the Metternich Rules are unlimited. The Austrians wanted to get Russia's support against the revolutionary wave that the July revolution opened in France. Russian Emperor Nikolai wanted to get Austria’s support on the Eastern issue. Nikolai told Metternich that, in his opinion, only two powers should, by agreement among themselves, decide Turkish affairs - this is Russia and Austria, since only they border the Ottoman Empire. Metternich agreed with this. Then, according to Metternich, the king asked: “Prince Metternich, what do you think of the Turk?” This is a sick man, isn't it? ”Metternich did not give a direct answer, and Nikolay never returned to this question. It was clear that Austria would not share the "sick person", since it is not strategically advantageous for her.
Nikolai tried to improve relations with England. The emperor established good relations with the new English ambassador - Lord Derem. At the same time, Nikolay acted conciliatory and showed that he was ready to help England in a diplomatic confrontation with France. In the period between 1835-1837. when Derem was Russia's ambassador, relations between Russia and Britain were relatively stable. Palmerston did not put up with the Unkair-Iskelesi Treaty, but tense relations with France interfered actively with Russia. Britain and France could not at this time oppose Russia in a united front.
It was difficult for Palmerston at that time to find allies against Russia. With all their heart, the Austrians wished Russia's failure in the Middle East, but they could not really help. Vienna needed Russian help in case of an internal revolution. It was impossible to chop the branch on which you sit. Only Russian bayonets could save the Austrian empire in the event of a major uprising. In addition, Metternich was a hardened cynic and a very cunning fox, who at one time deceived Alexander I and Napoleon, and he knew the price of English promises. The Austrian Chancellor did not intend to expose Austria for Russian interests for the sake of British interests. The last example of the war of Turkey and Egypt, only confirmed the opinion of Metternich. Palmerston assiduously encouraged and instigated the Turkish Sultan to fight the Egyptian Khedive, but when he reached the war, he did not send a single ship or a soldier to help.
The French king Louis-Philippe was also in no hurry to aggravate relations with Russia. Inside the country, the situation was difficult. Republicans and socialists put pressure on the monarch. After the sharp note of October 28 1833, Paris, no longer rustled. Louis-Philippe himself was not averse to receiving Russia's support in the fight against the revolutionary movement. He even made a gesture of goodwill - on his secret instructions, Countess Saint-Aldegond informed Emperor Nicholas about a new extensive Polish conspiracy, headed by Simon Konarsky. The French surrendered the names of all the leaders of the conspiracy. In Poland, arrested up to 200 people.
The case with the brig "Viksen" showed that England at the moment has no allies. The British held a provocation, sending the brig "Viken" to the coast of "Cherkessia" with a load of "salt" (gunpowder). In London, they believed that Russia had no right to Cherkessia and the British had to trade there without the permission of St. Petersburg. The Russian ship "Ajax" at the end of December 1835, detained a British ship and brought him to Sevastopol. The Russian court found the arrest to be correct and confiscated the brig. London protested, the press made a big stir. Palmerston told the Russian ambassador that England did not recognize Russia's sovereignty over Cherkessia and referred the case to the discussion of English "crown lawyers." The case dragged on for over a year and caused a lot of noise. The Russian ambassador in London, Pozzo di Borgo, even reported to St. Petersburg that Britain could declare war on Russia. But Nikolai did not yield, he only compensated for material losses to the owners of the vessel. Interestingly, the English ambassador to Russia, Derem, sided with Russia. Palmerston called him back. Nikolay, at parting, granted Derema the highest Russian order, Andrew the First-Called, in a token of appreciation. Considering the fact that London had no allies at this moment, Palmerston did not dare to go to war.
It must be said that Emperor Nicholas in this period was greatly mistaken with respect to England. He thought that the policy of London depended on the specific people who headed its foreign affairs agency. Like, if the insidious Lord Palmerston is changed to a calmer person, then things will get better. The emperor did not understand that London at that time was a kind of "command post" of the then masters of the Western project. No matter who the foreign minister is, he will express the interests of powerful financial and economic circles who, with the help of the most advanced industrial power of the planet at that time, are building their global order.
No compromise could be achieved in principle. Palmerston himself in a conversation with the Russian ambassador, which occurred on 30 on April 1837, spoke quite frankly about the Anglo-Russian contradictions. Lord Palmerston lost his temper and declared that he was afraid of the magnitude, strength, and conquering capabilities of Russia, and not only in Turkey, but also in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and everywhere. Palmerston exclaimed: “Yes, Europe has been sleeping for too long. She is finally awakening to put an end to this system of captures, which the emperor wishes to undertake at all the borders of his vast empire. ” According to him, Russia was strengthening in Poland, threatening Austria and Prussia, sowing distemper in the Danube principalities, threatens Sweden from Finland, weakens Persia, wants to appropriate the Cherkessia.
In October 1838, Palmerston told Russian Ambassador Pozzo di Borgo that Nicholas wanted to conquer India. “Reconnaissance” (intelligence) of the Russians by Palmerston called the Persian invasion of Herat, the preparation of the trade agreement of the Russian envoy Vitkevich in Afghanistan, and the expedition of General Perovsky from Orenburg to Central Asia in 1839 year.
To be continued ...