The Afghan Question in Russian Conservative Opinion Journalism in the Mid-1880s

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameNovaia i noveishaia istoriia
EditionIssue 4

In the first half of the reign of Alexander III (1881–1894), Russia took several important steps to strengthen its position in Central Asia. The annexation of the city of Merv, the Iolatan and Panjdekh oases in 1884–1885 led to territorial disputes with Afghanistan over the southern Turkmen lands and to a clash with an Afghan detachment on the Kushka River. The latter event nearly brought the political confrontation between St Petersburg and London over influence in the region to the brink of a full-scale military conflict. The peace settlement resulted in the work of a mixed British-Russian commission to determine the western part of the Russian-Afghan border, which culminated in the signing of an agreement in 1888. These events did not elude the attention of the Russian public. Leading national periodicals reported on the situation on the southern borders of the empire. In this article, the author attempts to characterise the views of influential Russian conservative authors of those years on Russian policy in Afghanistan in the mid-1880s and to analyse the extent to which their foreign policy proposals coincided with the actions of the Russian government. The study draws on the publications of the most influential representatives of the conservative press, as well as official press articles on events on the Russian-Afghan border, published during the period when the Russian-British confrontation in the region (1884–1886) was at its peak. The author concludes that, despite Alexander III's sympathy for conservative views and those who expressed them, the government did not accept a single proposal from conservative publicists regarding Russian policy at the borders of Afghanistan.

KeywordsAfghanistan, Alexander III, Great Game, Mikhail Katkov, Ivan Aksakov, Vladimir Meshchersky
Publication date01.09.2022
Number of characters29546
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