30.03.

1885: The Panjdeh Incident: Russian Empire and Britain Brought to Brink of War

1885: The Panjdeh Incident: Russian Empire and Britain Brought to Brink of War
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 30 March 1885
  • The incident occurred at a place where the Russians had penetrated far south in Asia, in the direction of British India. Russian General Alexander Komarov aggressively protected Russian interests in that region.

On this day in 1885 there was an incident in the area of contact of two great empires – the Russian Empire and the British colonial empire. This so-called Panjdeh Incident occurred at a place where the Russians had invaded far south in Asia, in the direction of British India. 

It was an area of northern Afghanistan, between the border with Turkmenistan and the Afghan city of Herat. Namely, the Russians occupied the Panjdeh oasis, suppressing the Afghans further south.

Russian General Alexander Komarov aggressively protected Russian interests in the region. Indeed, all of the Afghans were allegedly killed in the battle.

Russian penetration so far south clashed with British interests. The British Viceroy of India – Lord Dufferin – was assured by the Afghan Emir that it was only a border skirmish. But in London, the former Viceroy of India – the Marquess of Ripon – urged caution.

Finally, the war was avoided by diplomatic means. Viceroy Lord Dufferin obtained from the Russians an agreement by which the Pandjeh oasis remains part of the Russian Empire, but that Russia will commit to respecting the territorial integrity of Afghanistan in future.

In a way, Afghanistan became a buffer state between the Russian and British empires. Later, the Pandjeh oasis remained the southernmost settlement of  first the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union for over a hundred years.

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