Anglo-Russian Agreements

Anglo-Russian Agreements

 

The Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1873 regarding a buffer zone in Middle Asia was concluded as a result of negotiations between the Russian and British governments from October 1872 to January 1873. It defined the Russian and British spheres of influence in Middle Asia and established the northern frontiers of the Afghan Emirate.

Signed in London on August 29 (September 10), the Agreement of 1885 on the Delimitation of Afghan Possessions settled the Russo-Afghan conflict of 1885, which had been caused by the incorporation of Turkmenia into Russia and had been directly triggered by the clash of Russian and Afghan troops at Tashkepri, north of Kushka. The agreement established the Afghan frontier, essentially in conformity with Russian demands, and defined the membership of the Anglo-Russian Delimitation Commission, which was responsible for adjusting and enforcing the frontier.

The Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907 was signed in St. Petersburg on August 18 (31) by the minister of foreign affairs A. P. Izvol’skii and the British ambassador A. Nicolson. At the turn of the 20th century the desire for rapprochement with Russia grew stronger in British ruling circles. The inclusion of Russia in the Entente became one of the most important aims of British diplomacy. Weakened by the Russo-Japanese War and the Revolution of 1905–07, tsarism was compelled to be more accommodating toward British imperialism in the Middle East.

Agreement was reached on Tibet, Afghanistan, and Persia (Iran). The territorial integrity of Tibet was recognized. The British agreed to the Russian government’s demand for the evacuation from the Chumbi Valley of British troops, who had been brought in under the Treaty of Lhasa (1904). In addition, the British recognized the right of the Buriats (Russian subjects) to make pilgrimages to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Under the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907, Persia was divided into three zones: a Russian zone, with the southern boundary along the line Qasr-e-Shirin-Isfahan-Yazd-Zulfikar; a British zone, southeast of the line Bandar Abbas-Kerman-Birjand-Gazik; and a neutral zone between them.

Each side promised not to seek concessions in the other’s sphere of influence and not to intervene in economic and political measures taken by the other side. If Persia failed to meet its debt obligations to Russia and Great Britain, each of the powers would receive the right to exercise financial control within its sphere of influence over the income of the Persian government. The neutral zone was to be open to competition between the Russian and British capitalists. Russia recognized that Afghanistan was outside its sphere of interest, and Great Britain promised to refrain from annexing Afghanistan.

The Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907 was an important stage in the creation of the imperialist bloc opposed by the Triple Alliance of 1882, which was headed by Germany. The agreement, however, was also aimed against the national liberation movement in the East. In his Notebooks on Imperialism, V. I. Lenin stated the purpose of the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907: “Britain and Russia divide Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet (preparing for war against Germany)” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 28, p. 669).

PUBLICATION

Sb. dogovorov Rossii s drugimi gosudarstvami, 1856–1917. Moscow, 1952. Pages 386–94.