Having ignited the Caucasus, Britain thereby set fire to the southern borders of Russia
The tenacity and tenacity of the British elite in defending their interests is a well-known thing.
She begins active actions when the enemy, or those whom the British consider as such, do not even think to threaten Britain.
There are many examples on this score, but we will focus on an issue that is directly related to our country, and, perhaps, has not lost its relevance to this day, although we are talking about the events of the first half of the 19th century.
In 1829, Russia and Turkey signed the Adrianople Peace Treaty. Among other things, we obtained from the enemy the concession of the eastern coast of the Black Sea, including the fortresses of Anapa and Poti. In addition to its geopolitical significance, Russia's victory made it possible to end the slave trade, which was engaged in by the armed groups of the Circassians. They raided Russian settlements with the aim of capturing prisoners and selling them to Turkey.
Oddly enough, but in London it was regarded as a threat to their colonial possessions in … India! It would seem that this is absurd: where is Anapa, and where is India, but the British think strategically, for many years to come. And they reasoned that the strengthening of Russia in the Caucasus would inevitably lead to attempts by St. Petersburg to firmly establish itself in Persia. In turn, having entrenched themselves there, the Russians will not stop and move to Afghanistan, and this is the gateway to India.
The British had worked in the Caucasus before, but after the Adrianople Peace, their activity sharply intensified. London decided to stake on the creation of an independent Circassian state.
It is clear that no one was going to provide the Circassians with real independence. According to London's plans, a Turkish vassal was to appear in the Caucasus, and Turkey itself was already under the political influence of Britain. Remaining as if on the sidelines, England would be able to manipulate the new "state", using it for anti-Russian purposes. Having ignited the Caucasus, Britain thereby set fire to the southern borders of Russia, fettering our army there and adding a headache to St. Petersburg.
In addition to the strategic defense of India, London also had a tactical goal. At the beginning of the 19th century, English merchants had already mastered the trade route through Trebizond. Goods were transported along it to Turkey and Persia. When Russia annexed Poti, the British worried that "their" new commercial artery might be cut by the Russians.
As usual, under the guise of propaganda about the free market, the British state actually stood guard over the interests of its merchants, providing them with not market support, but purely protectionist support. So for this reason, England decided to give battle to Russia in the Caucasus.
As they say, the ink on the paper of the Treaty of Adrianople did not have time to dry, and the British ships loaded with weapons and gunpowder reached the eastern coast of the Black Sea. At the same time, the British Embassy in Turkey is turning into a center coordinating subversive actions against Russia in the Caucasus.
Our diplomacy also did not sit idly by, and in 1833 achieved a major victory. It was possible to conclude, no less, a real defense alliance with Turkey. This agreement can be called unique without exaggeration. Old enemies, who have repeatedly fought among themselves, pledged to help each other if a third country starts a war against Russia or Turkey.
In Constantinople, they realized that the West posed a much more terrible threat to the Ottoman Empire than Russia. Indeed, France in 1830 took a huge Algeria from Turkey, and when the Egyptian Pasha Muhammad Ali also declared independence, the empire was on the verge of collapse.
Help came, from where it was not expected, Tsar Nicholas I instantly orientated himself in the situation, realized that "independent" Egypt would become a toy in the hands of England and France. Moreover, Paris cherished a plan to turn Syria into its colony. Therefore, Nikolai sent the Russian fleet to help the Sultan. The landing force under the command of General Muravyov landed on the Bosphorus.
Turkey was saved, and Russia received a number of major concessions from Constantinople. From now on, the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, at the request of St. Petersburg, were closed to all warships, except for the Russians. It is clear that the Turks turned to the Russians out of complete hopelessness. In Constantinople it was said then that a drowning man would grab hold of a snake. But whatever one may say, the deed was done.
When London learned of this, the British elite went berserk and officially announced that they would not recognize Russia's right to the east coast of the Black Sea. It is interesting that at this moment the British decided to play the Polish card against Russia.
Foreign Minister Palmerston personally supervised the representation of Polish emigrants (Jond Narodovy) in Europe. Through this organization, propaganda was conducted directed at Polish officers of the Russian army in the Caucasus. The Polish mission also existed in Constantinople. From there, her emissaries were sent to South Russia and the Caucasus.
The leader of the Polish emigration Czartoryski developed a plan for a large-scale war. It was supposed to put together a broad coalition, which would include the southern Slavs, Cossacks and mountaineers.
The Caucasians were supposed to go along the Volga to Moscow, the Cossacks were supposed to move along the Don, through Voronezh, Tula there, and the Polish corps was supposed to strike at Little Russia. The ultimate goal was the restoration of an independent Polish state within the borders of 1772, depending on which the Don and Black Sea Cossacks would be. And in the Caucasus, three states were supposed to appear: Georgia, Armenia and the Federation of Muslim Peoples, under the protectorate of Ports.
This could be seen as the fantasies of emigrants cut off from life, but the plan was approved by Paris and London. This means that the threat was real, and the subsequent events of the Crimean War fully confirmed this. In addition, the Polish uprising of 1830-31 showed that the intentions of the Poles were more than serious.
And what about Russia? Nicholas I, having considered a number of proposals, agreed to build fortifications on the Circassian coast, and in addition, the Black Sea Fleet established cruising along the coast. In general, it must be said that in the Russian politics of those times, two currents fought, relatively speaking, “hawks” and “doves”. The first relied on drastic measures, up to a food blockade. The latter believed that the Caucasians should be attracted by commercial and cultural benefits. Among other things, it was proposed to "soften" the mountaineers, instilling luxury in their midst.
They pointed out that the long-term practice of hard strikes against Chechnya has not been crowned with success, and subtle diplomacy is a more reliable means. The tsar used both approaches, and Colonel Khan-Girey was sent to the Caucasus. He was supposed to negotiate with the Circassian leaders. Alas, the mission of Khan-Girey was not crowned with success, and it was not possible to achieve reconciliation with the Circassians. And here Russian diplomacy had to face fierce resistance from British emissaries.
London sent to Circassia a young, but already seasoned special agent Daud Bey - he is also David Urquhart (Urquhart). Before his trip to the Caucasus, Urquart met the Circassian leaders in Constantinople and made the necessary connections. He quickly got into the confidence of the mountaineers and made such a stunning impression on them with his speeches that they even offered Urquart to lead their struggle with Russia.
Instead of feats of arms, the Briton decided to launch an ideological war. Returning to England, he flooded the press with reports and articles of Russophobic content, convincing public opinion that Russia posed a mortal danger to Britain.
He painted a grim picture of the Russian invasion not only of Turkey and Persia, but also of India. Urquhart predicted that Russia, having made Persia its protectorate, would soon incite the Persians against India, promising them huge booty.
Psychologically, the calculation was correct, the commercial benefits from the exploitation of Indian wealth interested the English elite more than anything else. The fear of a Russian campaign in India took on a pathological character in Britain, and, by the way, Urquart's words fell on the ground prepared by Kinneir, a British adviser to the Persian shah during the Russo-Persian war of 1804-13.
Kinneir was one of the first, if not the first military expert to conduct a thorough analytical study of India's vulnerability to external invasion.
He knew very well the geography of Turkey and Persia, he came to the conclusion that for the Russians a campaign in India would be a very difficult task. Nevertheless, in principle, Russia is capable of this, because its army is strong and disciplined. Those wishing to seize India will meet mountains and deep rivers on their way.
Kinneir paid particular attention to the harsh climate and icy frost, which are not uncommon in those parts, but should Russians be afraid of winter? And you can wade the rivers. According to Kinneir, the Russian armies will have to pass Afghanistan, starting their journey from the Caucasian bases or from Orenburg. Moreover, in the first case, the enemy will use the Caspian Sea, and he will not need to march throughout Persia.
Be that as it may, when Urquart began to frighten the British with the "Russian threat", they also recalled Kinneir's reasoning. And then Russia began to build up its fleet, which only increased London's suspicions. Moreover, Urquart prepared a provocation.
With his submission in 1836, the British ship "Vixen" headed for the Circassian coast. The press was tasked to widely inform the population of Britain about this. Soon the ship was arrested by our brig, and this caused a storm of indignation in the British public. Petersburg, in turn, accused London of sending agents to the Circassians in order to rouse them to an uprising.
Relations between the two capitals escalated to the limit, and the British decided to defuse the situation, finding a scapegoat in the person of Urquart. He was dismissed and switched to other affairs, but this did not mean at all that Britain decided to leave the Caucasus alone. The main struggle was ahead.