chapter  6
10 Pages

/Anglo-Russian Relations and the Pacification of the Turkomans

Afghanistan, 1875-1880 In the late 1870’s and early 1880’s Bukhara was of greatest interest to Russia as an instrument in the traditional Anglo-Russian rivalry in Central Asia. That rivalry, which the 1873 understanding had attempted to settle, became intensified after Disraeli replaced Gladstone as prime minister in February 1874. Gladstone’s Liberal government had considered an independent Afghanistan under British influence as the best guarantee of India’s security against Russia. In the early seventies, consequently, Afghanistan was far less dependent on Britain than Bukhara was on Russia. The Liberals had also readily accepted Kaufman’s settlement of the Khivan question, on condition that Russia scrupulously honor her promises in regard to Afghanistan.1 Disraeli was both more hostile to Russia and more favorable to imperial expansion than Gladstone. The conquest and partial annexation of Khiva was thus taken as evidence that the Russian danger in Central Asia was growing and that a stronger response on Britain’s part was needed.