Military Review

The border of the empire in world politics: 1885

The border of the empire in world politics: 1885

The British Admiralty was still watching with fear the increase in the number of Russian cruisers. In March 1885, the British numbered 29 cruisers: 1 armored, 5 armored, 23 light, not counting the 6 commercial ships of the Voluntary fleetthat could be used as raiders, 2 first-class cruisers were in the completion, one of which was to be launched in the near future. There were 3 armored deck and 12 light cruisers in the Baltic, 2 light cruisers and Dobroflot steamers in the Black Sea, 12 were outside Russian waters. They then caused the greatest fears, since the exit from the Baltic could easily be blocked by the forces of the British squadron, which was based in the metropolis. On March 14, 1885, the Admiralty expressed a wish to the government to begin confidentially working with neutral states: Japan, China, France, the United States and South American countries with the aim of recommending to them in the event of an Anglo-Russian war to refrain from supplying Russian cruisers with coal and water. At the same time, Admiralty experts recognized the complexity of the task, due to the lack of international legal acts regulating this issue and the presence of unpleasant precedents for London (for example, the supply of southerners by the British during the American Civil War).

It is interesting that, for their part, the leaders of the imperial Russian fleet were very skeptical about the prospects for a cruising war, considering their own cruising forces to be absolutely insufficient for them, and the possibilities of their supply in the ocean were scanty. The Russian ships that were in foreign waters received orders to leave for the ports of the states, which will clearly remain neutral in the event of an Anglo-Russian conflict. Already in April, 1885, the British established surveillance of these ships - one or two British followed each Russian military flag at sea. Under these conditions, the Maritime Ministry set about arming part of commercial ships, but the main focus was on defensive measures - accelerated preparation and arming of the torpedo-ness fleet, construction of new coastal batteries (and above all in Vladivostok, which was poorly protected until that time). for the cover of approaches to the main military and commercial ports - for the last in Kronstadt 1230 mines were prepared, in Sveaborg - 523, Vyborg - 180, Dinamünde - 141, and Sevastopol, Kerch, Odessa, N Ovorossiysk, Poti and Batum - over 2000 min.

14 March 1885. Queen Victoria in a letter to Gladstone expressed her wish not to leave General Gordon without retaliation. In his letter of reply from 15 in March of the same year, i.e., 2 weeks before the clash at Kushka, the Prime Minister considered the Afghan direction to be much more important, and as a result the expedition against the Mahdists was postponed indefinitely. The British authorities in India, whose viceroy — Lord Dufferin, was rather skeptical about the possibility of the Russian threat — were ordered to prepare a corps, which could, if necessary, defend Herat. To give confidence in their abilities, as well as in the readiness of the British authorities in India to support Kabul, 20 million rupees, 20 thousand rifles, 4 heavy guns, 2 howitzers, a mountain battery, and appropriate military equipment and ammunition to this arms. The British authorities, in anticipation of the war with Russia, even postponed the conquest of Burma (it took place in 1886).

Active preparation of the squadron of 16 battleships was going on in England right up to June 1885. But it didn’t come to a Russian-English clash this time - the United Kingdom could not count on an ally’s help in Europe, moreover, it was burdened with problems in Africa. Outside the system of alliances built by Bismarck, only France remained, which, after the seizure of Egypt by England, remained hostile to London, where they looked with caution at the growth of French naval armaments and at rivalry with the French in the colonies and especially in Africa. However, the spring of 1885 was far from the time when anyone could count on France at all. In March 1882, the French began hostilities in Tonkin (north Vietnam). Their actions, in spite of the support of the native allies and superiority in armament, were not particularly successful from the very beginning.

Technical superiority gained tremendous importance - from the sea and on the rivers of the French supported the fleet - 2 battleship and 1 2 class cruiser, 2 gunboats. The Chinese and Vietnamese had nothing to oppose with their artillery. 25 August 1883, after the blockade and the shelling of the coastal fortifications, the ruler of Annamus (central and southern Vietnam) recognized the French protectorate over Annam and Tonkin. The world never came. The French continued to blockade the coast in order to stop the transport of troops and weapons, soon followed by new clashes.

The French squadron was increased to 4 battleships, 5 cruisers of the 1 class and 2 class, 16 gunboats and 6 transports. By December 1883, the number of French troops (European units, African arrows, local police) in Tonkine increased from 4 to 15 thousand people. with 88 tools. With the help of the fleet, they quickly achieved success on the coast and in areas where the rivers were navigable. 11 in May 1884 in Tianjin signed a preliminary Franco-Chinese treaty - China pledged to withdraw its troops from Tonkin (Art.2), and France, in response, refused to pay military expenses (Art.3) and ensured the security of China’s borders from North Vietnam (Art.1). In fact, Paris received the right to control Tonkin and Annam.

After that, the French withdrew from the new colony to 5 thousand people, leaving there around 6 thousand European and 6 thousand native auxiliary troops, 26 military ships, 18 river gunboats, 10 transports. As often happens in such circumstances, there are problems with demarcation. The French wanted to include in the composition of their colony of mountains. Lang son The Chinese, considering it a part of their territory, did not withdraw the troops from there and resisted the French. In June 1884, hostilities resumed, and the war was not formally declared. Attempts by the Chinese squadron to resist failed due to the apparent inequality of forces. Against the 4 French battleships, the 7 2 cruisers and the 3 3 class cruisers, 10 seagoing canlodos, the Chinese had 9 wooden steam corvettes (built with the help of French specialists), 2 iron canloks and 12 military junks. 23 August 1884, the Chinese squadron was destroyed.

By October 1884, the Chinese were driven out of most of the disputed territories, in November the French squadron began the blockade of Formosa (now Taiwan). Since the end of 1884, there has been a small break in hostilities. The French increased their military presence, collecting a significant squadron. The French began to land landings on Formosa. On February 15 they attacked and sank a Chinese frigate and a corvette with a pole mine. Successful actions on Formosa weakened the French expeditionary force in Tonkin. 27 − 28 March 1885. It was defeated by the Chinese at Lang Son, who brought their most efficient units here. The defeat seriously affected the military prestige of France and led to the March 30 government crisis.

As for Germany, she preferred the agreement with Russia to the perspective of conflict with her in alliance with England. In his letter of 4 in May, 1885 to Alexander III, Prince William of Prussia - the future Emperor Wilhelm II - reported on the visit of Prince Wellsky to Berlin and about the reluctance of the British government to start a war, following the jingo moods of the public. “For my part,” added the prince, “I wholeheartedly congratulate you on the victory of Komarov, who caused a lively satisfaction here and in our whole army. I can assure you that the sympathies of all my comrades are on the side of the troops fighting for you, and I, as a Russian officer, wish that the banners of the king always accompany the victory; I regret that I cannot serve them personally and with my blood! "There was no need for the latter.

Bismarck was categorically opposed to London’s calls to mediate in the Afghan issue. The slightest interference, he said, could "... save the English from the hostility of the Russians by turning it against us." Such a prospect could not arrange the “Iron Chancellor”. 27 May 1885, referring to Wilhelm I, he wrote: “To cause this, just the slightest direct or indirect pressure on Russia, even friendly advice to keep the peace. Undoubtedly, Russia will not go to war with England if it is afraid of threats from Germany or Austria during the war. The slightest hint of such an opportunity would be enough to set Russia up peacefully in relation to England, but this would also be enough to re-energize and strengthen the eliminated distrust against us with such difficulty and force Russian policy to direct its edge exclusively against the West. On this basis, we carefully refrained from bringing to the attention of St. Petersburg at least the smallest statement, which could be viewed as pressure or at least a hint that Your Majesty wishes Russia not to violate peace. ”

Meanwhile, Russia was not at all eager for war. Already on April 19 (May 1) at a meeting with Emperor Alexander III, it was decided to engage in dialogue with England on the Afghan issue. 30 April (12 May) 1885 was discussed proposals received from London, which was supposed to exit, "meets the dignity of both countries." On the other hand, in 1885, it was quite difficult to break the world. The occupation of Cyprus in 1878 and the occupation of Egypt in 1882 led to a sharp deterioration in not only Anglo-French, but also Anglo-Turkish relations, which did not allow London to hope for the opening of the Black Sea straits in the event of war with Russia. Constantinople immediately linked its consensus to concessions in Egypt, which was unacceptable for Great Britain. In addition, all the Great Powers — Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and France — warned the Turks that the opening of the Straits would be a violation of their obligations. Turkey itself did not want to become the scene of the Anglo-Russian conflict that began in Central Asia.

16 April 1885. The Admiralty considered the question of forceful crossing of the Straits and came to the conclusion that it was desirable to occupy them with significant troops and involve Turkey in the war, otherwise operations against Russia on the Black Sea were not considered possible. The Russian Black Sea Fleet (2 battleship, 4 light cruisers, 4 small steamer, 12 mineboats, 2 transport) and strengthening the most important targets of a possible attack - Sevastopol and Batum - were not considered a dangerous obstacle. As a result, it confined itself to setting the Mediterranean squadron the task of observing the Dardanelles. As for the Baltic, the fortifications of Kronstadt and Sveaborg were recognized as impregnable against a direct attack, British experts highly appreciated the work done in these fortresses with 1878. According to their assumptions, the fleet could count on success only in the event of a bombing or an attack of poorly protected and not completely protected commercial or partially commercial ports, such as Abo, Riga, Revel, Vyborg, Vindava and Libava.

The visits of William II and Alexander III to Austria were of great importance for calming emotions in Europe. The German emperor met with Franz-Joseph in Gastein 6 in August, the Russian in Kremzir 25 – 27 in August 1885. Such a demonstration of unity could not be overlooked. In this situation, the clash between the “whale and the elephant,” as the European press called it after Bismarck, became impossible. It is necessary to pay tribute to the German Chancellor - he was against the “whale” getting access to the waters of the Black Sea. In the Russian press, the Afghan question sometimes caused visions of an imminent war. “The whole world, European and Asiatic,” L.N. Sobolev, has long been awaiting the war between England and Russia, and has long considered it inevitable. She will. Whether today, tomorrow or even later, because of Pende, because of Korea, because of the Bosphorus, or because of diplomatic scruples, but it will be - everyone knows and feels it, although not everyone expresses and not everyone acknowledges. "

In fact, the war was not needed and Russia, the negotiations resumed. 29 August (10 September) 1885 they ended with the signing of the London Protocol, under which the disputed oasis of Pende passed to Russia, and the Zulfagar Pass, which opened the road to Herat - to the Afghans. 10 (22) July 1887 signed the St. Petersburg Protocol on the further delimitation of the Amur-Darya Russian-Afghan border. It was completed in 1888, and in 1890, the Kushkinsky post appeared on the disputed territory in the past. Petersburg and London were convinced of the possibility of a peaceful solution to this kind of problems, which was important in the recent Russian-Afghan delineation in 1895, as a result of which most of the Pamirs passed to Russia, and to Afghanistan - the so-called “Wakhan corridor”, which was supposed to become a buffer between Russian Turkestan and British India. Following the settlement of the Kushkinsky crisis, a new one appeared - in the Balkans.
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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 1 November 2015 07: 35
    Alexander III the Peacemaker ... that's the truth
  2. Hitrovan07
    Hitrovan07 1 November 2015 10: 31
    The Peacemaker had allies - do not forget - the army and navy.
  3. chunga-changa
    chunga-changa 1 November 2015 12: 21
    Since then, almost nothing has changed. Is it that Turkey by our own efforts to zero and now the issue of access to the Straits for the British has been removed, for us it is the other way around. Although the British are now trying not to go ahead, they have specially raised the Americans for this.