chapter
3 Pages

Introduction

The aim of this book is to describe and analyse the relationship between Britain and Russia in Central Asia during the years 1865 to 1895, with a particular focus on the efforts that were made to establish a firm and sustainable dividing line between their respective spheres of influence. These efforts were ultimately successful in producing a frontier which has lasted to the present day. The three decades in question were significant because they were bounded by two decisive events; in 1865 by General Cherniaev’s high profile storming of Tashkent, which overturned Russia’s ‘stationary’ policy; and, at the conclusion, by the Pamir Agreement of 1895, in which the two powers put the finishing touches to their frontier negotiations. Central Asia was significant because it was the sole region in the world where Russia, with her preponderant military strength, could bring effective pressure to bear on British territory. Elsewhere, British naval power gave her a decisive invulnerability, and her Indian empire was immune to attack from the sea. From the direction of Central Asia, however, there was a perceived threat, if not of actual invasion, then at least of an advance sufficient to generate unrest, or open up opportunities for subversion, in this ‘jewel of the British Crown’.