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100 Years ago: End of the Great Game

27 September 2007

.September 27th, 1907.

THE text of the Anglo-Russian Convention has been prematurely divulged in Russia, so that we are able to read it two days in advance of its formal publication by our own Foreign Office. The first thing that can be said about it is that it keeps quite clear of European international politics, and restricts its purview to questions which affect the relations between England and Russia in Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. Those questions might, at any time, have developed into difficult crises, and it is obviously a great relief to have them removed from the category of immediate dangers. By this instrument the signatory Powers undertake to acknowledge and respect the integrity and independence of Persia, and delimit their spheres of influence in that country, Russia taking the Northern, and England the Southern part. Of even greater importance to us is Russia’s acknowledgement of our sole influence in Afghanistan, and her promise to negociate with the Afghan authorities only through the British Government. What Russia gains is the sphere of influence in Northern Persia, which means on our part a very substantial concession. We think Sir Edward Grey and the Government are to be congratulated on having formulated an agreement which seems to promise us a period of security in our position as an Asiatic Power, but this approval is not given by the whole of the Radical Press. Certain journals insist that Russia must be treated as a pariah by reason of her autocratic régime.

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