1813 with the Russo-Persian TreatyThe Great Game is the name given to the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. It began in 1813 with the Russo-Persian Treaty and ended in 1907 with the Anglo-Russian Convention.


Marquess George Nathaniel Curzon

“Without India the British Empire could not exist. The possession of India is the inalienable badge of sovereignty in the eastern hemisphere.”

Source- Curzon, George N. Persia and the Persian Question, London, 1892, vol I, p. 4

February 1902

Russian foreign minister Vladimir Nikolaevich Lamsdorff pointed out that-

“In Russia, Great Britain had for a century, at least, been regarded by the mass of the people as the one Power always to the fore in baulking at every conjuncture the national aspirations and barring the natural development and expansion of Russia.”

Source- Public Records Office /FO65/1640/56- ‘Anglo-Japanese agreements’. Sir Charles Scott to the Marquess of Lansdowne, St Petersburg, February 17, 1902


Captain Lebedev of the Imperial Russian Grenadier Guards published a detailed ‘project of a future campaign’ entitled To India. He advocates for a Russian offensive through Central Asia against the British colony-

“We must indeed come into contact with India… We shall compel Great Britain to place a proper value on our friendship and to relinquish her aggressive policy in regard to Russia. The might of India will be sapped, seeing that it will become necessary to increase the armed forces of the Indian Empire; this, in its turn, would increase the taxation under which the native populations now groan, and result in an increasing feeling of discontent. Independently of all this, a connection of the Trans-Caspian Railway with the railway system of India will give us a command of the route which the overland trade between Europe and Asia will pursue; and, finally, Russia will have found a way to emerge on an open sea.”

Source- Abstract and Extracts of translation by Robert Mitchell of ‘To India, A military statistical and strategical sketch. A project of a future campaign.’ By Captain W. Lebedeff, Grenadier Guards, St Petersburg, 1898

September 2, 1899

General MacGregor’s assessment that the Russians just need to approach the Indian border for British rule to collapse-

“The Russian Army will but serve as the point of the spear with which the Russians will pierce the heart of India. The handle will be those robbers from the Caspian to the Indus, whose tough hides will permit them to join themselves to the Russians.”

Source- Public Records Office/FO65/1593/September 2, 2899- ‘To India’ p. 26

November 6, 1902

Lee-Warner’s grim assessment of the British position in Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan the situation is almost as bad as it can be… Professing to Russia to direct the foreign policy of the Afghans, we are unable to direct or control it… The Amir…is a factor in the balance of power, who can play us off against Russia and Russia against us, and the whole position is most unsatisfactory. If Russia presses us to secure satisfaction for a just demand we cannot enforce it.”

Source- India Office, London/L/P&S/18/C106- Lee-Warner, ‘Russia and the Indian Empire.’ November 6, 1902.