The Russians Shall Not Have Constantinople
Roman Golicz looks at English attitudes to Russia during the Eastern Crisis of 1870-78.
In the late eighteenth century English politicians began to question what would happen to the Balkans if and when the Ottoman empire disappeared. For as long as the declining Ottoman empire remained in control of the eastern Mediterranean and the Russian empire restricted itself to expansion into Siberia, Britain’s naval pre-eminence was unthreatened. However, in the Russo-Turkish war of 1787-92, Russia increased her Black Sea possessions, established a route to the Caspian Sea and expanded into Central Asia. Britain now feared that further Russo-Turkish conflicts might result in the collapse of the Ottoman empire: control of the Black Sea, the Dardanelles, and the Aegean Sea would then fall to Russia who could block Britain’s Mediterranean trade and even threaten British waters.