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'Minute by His Excellency the Viceroy on Russian Ambitions in Eastern Persia' [‎133r] (3/6)

The record is made up of 1 file (3 folios). It was created in 28 Oct 1901. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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“ port in ice-free waters, and we shall hear no more of Russian rivalry at
relung. ’ I doubt if any one who has passed through the recent Chinese war
will now endorse that theory. The cession of Port Arthur to Russia was the
infallible prelude to the absorption of Manchuria ; and it renders absolutely
inevitable the ultimate Russian control over the northern provinces and the
8. As a student of Russian aspirations and methods for fifteen years, I
assert with confidence—what I do not think that any one of her own
statesmen would deny—that her ultimate ambition is the dominion of Asia.
She conceives herself to be fitted for it by temperament, by history, and by
tradition. It is a proud and a not ignoble aim, and is well worthy of the
supreme moral and material efforts of a vigorous nation. But it is not to be
satisfied by piecemeal concessions, neither is it capable of being gratified save
at our. expense. Acquiescence in the aims of Russia at Tehran and Meshed
will not save Seistan. Acquiescence in Seistan will not turn her eyes from
the Gulf. Acquiescence in the Gulf will not prevent intrigue and trouble
in Baluchistan. Acquiescence at Herat and in Afghan Turkistan will not
secure Kabul. Acquiescence in the Pamirs will not save Kashgar.
Acquiescence at Kashgar will not divert Russian eyes from Tibet. Each
morsel hut whets the appetite for more, and inflames the passion for a
pan-Asiatic dominion. If Russia is entitled to these ambitions, still more is
Great Britain entitled, nay compelled, to defend that which she has won, and
to resist the minor encroachments which are only a part of the larger plan.
Like many other students of the Asian problem, I have often pondered, at
each stage from Korea to the Bosphorus, whether we could not, by a friendLv
agreement with Russia, arrive at such a demarcation of our respective
interests as would enable us to eschew rivalry and to cultivate an amicable
co-operation, if not an actual alliance, in the future. At each stage I have
found that in such an agreement the giving would be all on our side and
the receiving on the other. The satisfaction of Russian interests could not
he attained except by an intolerable sacrifice of our own. Simultaneously
my inclinations towards such an understanding have not been encouraged
by a study of the manner in which similar efforts have been met or
have been observed in the past. The better and the safer policy seems
to be for Great Britain at each point upon the long line of contact
to frame her policy and to declare it - The West Ridgway Convention
and the public statement of Lord Dufferin that its infraction would he
followed by war, has for sixteen years saved the Zulfikar-Bosaga section
of the frontier. Persia will not be saved except by some similar
9. I now proceed to examine the effect that would be produced upon
India, were Russia permitted to gratify her ambitions by contracting a
Russian railway through Persia, and acquiring a Russian port in the Persian
10. It is not open to doubt that these enterprises, and the power for
pressure and control which they would give, would be followed at no distant
interval by the destruction of the Persian monarchy as an independent
kingdom, and its incorporation, on much the same footing as Bokhara or
Khiva, in the dominions of the Czar. The north of Persia is already within
the grasp of Russia, and can be absorbed or annexed by her whenever she
desires. A railway from the north to the south would be the link by which
the same process would be extended southwards until it reached the ocean.
The lateral connections, eastwards and westwards, might for a while be
delayed. Sooner or later they would follow. A Shah might be left upon the
throne, just as there is a Khan at Khiva and an Amir at Bokhara. VYe also
have our Asiatic Princes in India, and we know that they are not incompatible
with a European dominion.
11. But it may be said, why not let Persia be swallowed up, as the Central
Asian Khanates have successively been ? What is Persia to Great Britain
or to India? A sufficient answer might probably be found in the history of

About this item


The file consists of a Minute by George Nathaniel Curzon, Viceroy and Governor-General of India in Council regarding Russian ambitions in Eastern Persia. These include: the absorption of Persia, the connection of Russian territories by railway with the Indian Ocean, and the acquisition of a fortified naval base in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. .

Curzon examines how far Russian ambitions would negatively affect British interests, and how far they should either be acquiesced or opposed.

Extent and format
1 file (3 folios)

This file consists of a single document.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence for this description commences at f 132, and terminates at f 134, as it is part of a larger physical volume; these numbers are written in pencil, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio.

Pagination: the file also contains an original printed pagination sequence.

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English in Latin script
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'Minute by His Excellency the Viceroy on Russian Ambitions in Eastern Persia' [‎133r] (3/6), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/C105, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 7 December 2019]

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